The Last Circle of Hell - Ptolomea

Through friends I learned of “Cities and Memory” and a project they announced for the 700th anniversary of Dante’s Inferno to create a soundtrack for it. I decided to participate.

There was a “map of Hell” and you could mark your interest in two spots, being given one of them. At the time I learned about the project, few places were left undibbed, so I signed up for either “Hypocrites” or “Ptolomea”. I received confirmation that I got the latter.

Ultimately, out of over 80 artists participating in the project, I was selected as one of the 19 for a highlights album on Bandcamp:

What’s “Ptolomea” anyway?

The Ninth Circle, Ptolomea - those who betrayed friends or guests. Their souls descend immediately to hell and their living bodies are possessed by demons when they commit these acts. The sinners cannot weep because the tears freeze in their eyes. Their grief has no outlet and turns inward. This increases their agony.

My Interpretation

Ptolomea is a section of a frozen river in the underworld. My soundtrack illustrates this cold and damp. I used synthesizers instead of going for natural sounds to deepen the sense of desolation. There’s a feel of dread but there are no audible screams or cries as the grief and agony of the sinners frozen in the river is internal. Occasionally the viewer’s attention is turned to a particular detail in sight but ultimately there is no end to the anguish. The song ends abruptly as the viewers notice the banners of Lucifer and move onto the last section of Hell.

Easter Eggs

My first thought when thinking about “Ptolomea” was Aphex Twin’s “Ptolemy” from his early cult album “Selected Ambient Works 85-92”.

“Ptolomea” lifts the harmony of that song, although it puts it in a less familiar 5/4 meter and slower tempo. The key is preserved, however I suspect the original recording was made in A-minor and a faster tempo, and then slowed down a notch in post-production.

My song also uses “Ptolemy’s” arguably most notorious element, the 808 cowbell, in a distorted form though, which gave it a somewhat sonar-like timbre.


Piano by Pianoteq 6, Steinway D with strings elongated to 6.66m.
Eerie chords by a pair of Moog Mother-32s.
Rhythmic bass by Moog Subharmonicon.
Melodic bass by Novation Circuit Mono Station.
Drums by Polyplex, bit crushed to 4 bits.
Reverbs by Raum.
Recorded and produced in Ableton Live.

Music Attributes

Duration: 3:33
Key: Ab minor
Tempo: 92 BPM
Meter: 5/4