A cappella choral work constructed in the computer from fragments.
Composer: Mike Olson
Noopiming is a single movement a cappella choral piece. The title of the work is also the text. Noopiming is an Ojibwe word, which translates as “in the North, inland, in the woods”. All of the vocalizations in the piece are created using various elements of this single word.
The piece has as it’s primary aesthetic underpinning, some of my own personal impressions of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. I have been doing canoe trips in the BWCA my entire life and have often felt a sense of connection with the natural world there. It’s a feeling of being connected to something ancient and primordial – something darkly beautiful that seems to draw me in, while at the same time, if I’m not mindful, could swallow me whole, leaving no trace.
Noopiming was created using my fragment-based compositional process. I started by recording a group of eight singers performing various musical gestures and textures. The recording was done at the St. Paul Seminary Chapel. This material was then edited down into a palette of hundreds of short audio recordings, which I then layered, combined and endlessly manipulated to create the finished work. There was no actual score for the piece. Instead, I created two lists of verbal instructions for the singers. One was for inspecifically pitched material and the other for specifically pitched material, using only three chords, which could interlock in ways that I liked.
Adding the visual component came after the music was completed. I searched for a photographer who had a significant body of work focusing on the BWCA, and who’s work had the right aesthetic to match the music. I came upon the work of Dale Robert Klous and felt it had the right kind of primordial nature vibe about it. I approached Dale about allowing me to use some of his images, and not only did he agree, but he even went out and shot some additional material for the project. I think his work is a great fit for my piece and I can’t thank him enough for his collaboration on the project. Once I had the images, I synchronized them with the music in a way that reinforces the overall emotional/aesthetic impact of the work.