Composition Department

Red Plumes

Craig Hultgren, cello

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Score excerpt

Deep beneath the surface of the Pacific lie hydrothermal vents that spew scalding water, laced with toxic minerals and gases, onto the near-freezing ocean floor. In the pitch-black depths, giant tube worms grow to a length of eight feet, protected from the harsh conditions by a tough outer shell. Having no mouth and no digestive tract, they host bacteria that convert minerals into food. The bacteria in turn receive food from the worm's blood-filled plumes, which exchange carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and other compounds with the seawater. A worm has no eyes, but somehow it can sense vibrations, which cause it to retract the plume into its shell. Imagine that you are hearing these vibrations.

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