In the lead-up to the 2019 state election, the department's website and other channels will operate in line with the caretaker conventions. This means there will be limited updates from 1 March 2019 until the election is finalised.
Keep up to date with all of the latest digital learning releases from The Arts Unit
Back to Top
Print this page

About 'Pearl'

Composed by Ian Cleworth

Pearl was originally composed in 2004 to celebrate Synergy Percussion's 30th anniversary, using a sextet of odaiko. The visual image of six grand drums lined up in a row evokes the horizon, which is a foundation concept of The Beauty Of 8. Playing the large odaiko is both musically and physically challenging, and the sense of struggle and transformation through performing the work is a perfect metaphor for the second part of The Beauty Of 8.

View Attachment 1: 'Pearl' composer notes for more information.

To print out the following activities and attachments, please select the 'Print this page' button at the bottom of this page.

Syllabus outcomes

Outcomes
Description
4.4

demonstrates an understanding of musical concepts through exploring, experimenting, improvising, organising, arranging and composing

5.4

demonstrates an understanding of the musical concepts through improvising, arranging and composing in the styles or genres of music selected for study

4.7

demonstrates an understanding of musical concepts through listening, observing, responding, discriminating, analysing, discussing and recording musical ideas

5.7

demonstrates an understanding of musical concepts through the analysis, comparison, and critical discussion of music from different stylistic, social, cultural and historical contexts

4.8

demonstrates an understanding of musical concepts through aural identification and discussion of the features of a range of repertoire

5.8

demonstrates an understanding of musical concepts through aural identification, discrimination, memorisation and notation in the music selected for study

4.12

demonstrates a developing confidence and willingness to engage in performing, composing and listening experiences

5.12

demonstrates a developing confidence and willingness to engage in performing, composing and listening experiences

Music 1 P4

recognises and identifies the concepts of music and discusses their use in a variety of musical styles

Music 1 P6

observes and discusses concepts of music in works representative of the topics studied

Music 1 P10

demonstrates a willingness to participate in performance, composition, musicology and aural activities

Music 1 H10

demonstrates a willingness to participate in performance, composition, musicology and aural activities

Music 2 P3

composes, improvises and analyses melodies and accompaniments for familiar sound sources in solo and/or small ensembles

Music 2 P5

analyses and discusses compositional processes with stylistic, historical, cultural and musical considerations

Music 2 P11

demonstrates a willingness to participate in performance, composition, musicology and aural activities

Music 2 H5

analyses, discusses, evaluates and clearly articulates compositional processes with stylistic, historical, cultural, social and musical considerations

Music 2 H11

demonstrates a willingness to participate in performance, composition, musicology and aural activities

Activities

Activity 1

Learning intention

Students observe the addition of instruments to the texture.

Success criteria

Students make an action when hear a new instrument added.

Syllabus outcomes

  • 4.7, 4.8, 4.12
  • 5.7, 5.8, 5.12
  • Music 1: P4, P6, P10, H10
  • Music 2: P3, P5, H5

Resources

Listening activity

Watch the performance of 'Pear'l (54:00 – 1:12:00)

  • Students make an action when they hear each odaiko enter at the beginning (Hint: there are 5 entries in all)

Activity 2

Learning intention

Students learn three challenging rhythms and overlay them.

Success criteria

Students demonstrate all three rhythms; students participate in the Pearl Rhythm Game, attempting to play one of three parts within the texture.

Syllabus outcomes

  • 4.4
  • 5.4
  • Music 1: P10, H10
  • Music 2: P11, H11

Resources

Playing activity

Students perform Pearl Rhythm Game

Ian has composed a rhythm piece based on the basic 7-beat permutations of Pearl. It involves three groups of players clapping several rhythmic patterns that overlay each other.

Each group of rhythms (7/4, 7/8, 7/16) follows a pattern of augmentation, followed by diminution.

The rhythmic patterns vary in difficulty: the 7/16 pattern is the most challenging, the 7/8 of medium difficulty and the 7/4 the least difficult. Students can be grouped according to ability levels.

The series of patterns should be learned and practiced before playing the piece as an ensemble.

Attachments

Attachment 1: 'Pearl' composer notes

How and why I composed 'Pearl'

Composed by Ian Cleworth

I first arrived in Tokyo on Japan’s National Cultural Day late in 1981 and immediately made my way to Yoyogi Park where, with wide-eyed wonder, I experienced a number of culturally significant demonstrations such as judo, odori (traditional dance), and a spectacular exhibition of archery on horse-back called yabusama. However, having not yet heard the taiko played live – at this point I had only experienced the sound on LPs – one can imagine my excitement when, from some distance, the immense boom of the odaiko (grand drum) that lives in the park’s Meiji Shrine reached my ears. Although I ran as fast as I could to try and catch this imposing instrument being struck with such force, I managed to miss it by seconds!

I did eventually see the odaiko played by one of the shrine priests – it was some years later! – but the visceral experience of that first distant encounter remains unmatched, and the power of its resonance continues to reverberate within me to this day.

Emperor Meiji’s taiko resounds far and wide and I thought this an appropriate aural image to draw upon when composing 'Pearl' for the occasion of Synergy Percussion’s 30th Anniversary in 2004. Taikoz grew out of Synergy’s early explorations into taiko territory and the resonance of these first concerts continues to be felt today.

As to the title? Well, what gift does one give for a 30th anniversary? Pearls, of course!

A note about the 2015 revision of 'Pearl' for The Beauty Of 8 production

When conceiving The Beauty Of 8 and thinking about the overall structure of the program, my mind went back to an older work called Shinju, or in English, Pearl. I changed the title from the Japanese word ‘shinju’ to the English equivalent ‘pearl’ to reflect a growing sense of my compositions being ‘my music’ and not ‘Japanese music’ (as ambiguous as that description is). While my taiko music is undoubtedly influenced by Japanese taiko music, technique, form and cultural associations, it still stems from my own personal and musical experiences, musical training and cultural background as an Australian, Caucasian male living and working in Sydney.

As described, the 2004 piece was composed to celebrate Synergy Percussion’s 30th anniversary and my chosen instrumentation was a sextet of odaiko. The visual image of six grand drums lined up in a row is that of the horizon, which is a foundation concept of The Beauty Of 8. The physical, almost immovable presence of six beautiful drums placed somewhat imposingly across the back of the stage sparked my interest in revising the 11-year old work for this very different context.

Furthermore, playing the large odaiko is not only a musically challenging one, but an extremely physical one, too. Simply holding your arms up above your head for 16 minutes is taxing – let alone moving them continuously at speed! The nexus between musicality and physicality, and the sense of struggle and transformation (after 16 minutes of playing 'Pearl'), was a perfect metaphor for the second part of The Beauty Of 8. In my attempt to musically realise the sentiment of Emily Dickinson’s affecting poem, the underlying meaning and concept of Pearl was perfectly suited to form the apex of the overall production.

Attachment 2: 'Pearl' introduction score

Pearl uses many combinations of 7 beats – not exclusively, but very often throughout the course of the work. Here are the basic motifs used in the introductory passages, followed by the opening pages of the score to Pearl. Notice how Ian has utilised various combinations of 7 beats: 7/4, 7/8, 7/16.

Attachment 3: 7-beat rhythm game preliminary exercise score

Attachment 4: 7-beat rhythm game score

Find out more about The Arts Unit Digital Engagement

Back to Home