In the summer of 2007 I came across a recording of music that was unlike anything I had heard before. Multiple voices sang repeating patterns on top of each other, creating an intricate weave of sound. This music was of the Baka Pygmies, an African culture found in Cameroon, Gabon and Congo. The melodies I had heard are yelli, songs that the Baka women sing for good luck in the men’s hunting. The music is improvised polyphony, in which each singer repeats melodic patterns and varies them with each repetition. A fascinating, lush texture is created when these melodies are layered, and I have tried to recreate some of those textures in this piece.
was written for Grant Okamura and the University of Hawai‘i Wind Ensemble, who premiered the piece in February 2008.