composer

Raasakka, Ville

Ville Raasakka (b. 1977) works with environmental composition, focusing on ecology, materiality and acoustic environments. His orchestral work gained a recommendation at the prestigious International Rostrum of Composers in 2019 ...

related works

Black Cloud, Under Ground : for orchestra / Ville Raasakka

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composition

Black Cloud, Under Ground : for orchestra / Ville Raasakka

Publisher's number: 16935
Genre: Orchestra
Subgenre: Orchestra
Instruments: fl fl-a ob eh 2cl(cl-b) fg cfg 4h 2tpt 3trb tb 2perc str
Remarks: Commissioned by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Dedicated to Hannu Lintu. First performance 27th February 2019, Helsinki Music Centre, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hannu Lintu, conductor.
Duration: 10'00"
Year of composition: 2018
Status: fully digitized (real-time delivery)

Description:
Centralia is a town in Pennsylvania that is known for its coal mines and anthracite coal production. The city is situated on top of old abandoned coal mines and between many operating coal mines. In 1962 a fire broke out in a mine nearby. Little by little, the fire spread through to the labyrinth of mines just underneath the city. Toxic smoke began seeping through holes in the ground.
People began feeling ill because of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide seeping to their homes. Monitors were installed to prevent people from suffocating in their sleep. A total of 41.7 million dollars of federal and state funds were spent to extinguish the fire and repair the situation, with no results but relocating all residents 22 years later in 1984. The fire continues to burn an estimated 200-250 years.
Since the burning mine cannot be entered (the coal burning as high as 720°C) I could not get footage from inside. However, I managed to get field recordings from inside four coal mines just next to Centralia: Water droplets echoing in the mine, standing waves (a kind of humming sound), sounds from a machine called The Breaker (abrading coal to various sizes), footsteps in the mine, and excavator hydraulics (up and down bending sounds). I also obtained footage of local coal burning in a stove (snapping and making hissing sounds). The recordings were from the Blashak Coal Mine, Black Diamond Mine, Pioneer Tunnel Mine and the Reading Coal Mine, that all surround Centralia (on a 40km radius).
I examined the sounds carefully with sound analysis software and started making musical material out of them. Reflecting the idea of underground, I wrote a piece where the drama is always happening underneath the ground level, never breaking out to daylight. Like an ominous cloud, hovering just between the orchestral players.
Ville Raasakka

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