Nanook is a collaborative work by Tanya Tagaq Gillis, Jean Martin, and Jesse Zubot with a pre-recorded track by Derek Charke, based on the 1922 silent documentary film, ʻNanook of the Northʼ.
This background pre-recorded soundscape (that accompanies the live performers) was commissioned for Tanya Tagaq Gillis with funding provided by the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage
When Tanya Tagaq asked me to join this project I was thrilled! I've spent time in the Arctic. It’s a fascinating place for me. I've recorded sounds in Pond Inlet and Iqaluit, Nunavut, and I’ve lived in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. I’ve also created a substantial body of work using the North as inspiration. This includes 'Tundra Songs', a piece commissioned for the world renowned Kronos Quartet and Tanya Tagaq.
Tanya’s voice forms a substantial part of the background soundscape. To do this Tanya recorded two tracks of improvisations to the film. I used this recording, in conjunction with the film, to begin the soundtrack. Many of Tanya’s recorded improvisations have been left as is to provide pre-recorded vocal tracks to assist in her live improvisation. I’ve altered her voice in various ways. Granular techniques stretch her voice creating pads of sound, like a backup choir. I’ve edited short segments of her singing, speaking and imitating northern sounds so that ultimately Tanya’s voice integrates seamlessly with the sound of the dogs, the wind, and the scraping of sleds. I’ve included field recordings of dogs, sledding, ring seals, narwhals, ice floes, ravens, people, water, wind, kayaks, running and walking on ice and snow, and many more. Abstract and electronically created sounds are also included like the sound of rubbing styrofoam, air, plastic, metal, shattered glass, and the phonograph. My artistic goal has been to create a highly captivating, and interesting sonic vocabulary that captures the spirit of the time and place in ‘Nanook’. The soundscape consists of sounds collected in the Arctic, as well as synthesized sounds. And Tanya’s voice has been highlighted as an integral component to the sonic geography of the work.