The Dying Pillow
THE DYING PILLOW (aka SMOOTHING THE PILLOW OF DYING RACE)
For 12 cymbals (four - twelve players), composed 2015.
Commissioned by Synergy Percussion as part of the 40 x 40 project.
To quell the violence on the frontiers of early Australia, to reduce devastation by disease and to provide Aborigines with a ‘humane’ environment while their race died out, colonial governments introduced systems of ‘protective’ legislation. The first was in 1860 in South Australia, where a Chief Protector was appointed to watch over the interests of Aboriginal people and to ‘smooth the pillow of dying race’. Similar legislation was passed in Victoria (1869), Queensland (1897), Western Australia (1905) and New South Wales (1909). These laws were a way of ‘protecting’ Aborigines from violence on the frontier. By designating territory for Aborigines, it was hoped that the conflict between settlers and Aborigines over land would stop and that Aborigines would use the settlement land to farm and become self-sufficient, thus improving their ‘destitute’ state and reducing their reliance on the government for rations. This piece was inspired by a recent evidencing of increasing racism in Australia, and features text in the background which has been taken from documents in the National Library of Australia. The title is a play on the original news article headline above, pointing to a more positive future where the 'pillow' is not required. A digital or hard copy of the score is available from Material Press.
This score should be read in the Decibel Scoreplayer (see below). You have the option in the Application to change the speed, Performer instructions for the piece are in the score file when you open it on the iPad.
Each player is assigned a colour. A smooth flat line indicates a soft dynamic, and the widening of the line means getting louder. Use a bow to play the cymbal and try as where possible to make the bow change inaudible. A ‘dot’ at the end or start of a line means to articulate the start or end in some strong way, if there is no dot you should ease in at the start and let the cymbal ring out at the end.
Floating ‘dots’ are soft cymbal strikes that can ring out (i.e.do not require dampening). These can be on the cymbals being bowed, or on others - which could be crotales or any other type of ‘cymbal like’ instrument.
NOTE TO PERFORMERS
The majority of my compositions use scores that are read on an iPad tablet computer, using the Decibel ScorePlayer, an application available on the App Store . Any fixed media is embedded in the score, and some feature automated functions. In the case of ensemble works, multiple iPads can be networked on a LAN or over the Internet so parts can be read in a synchronised way. You should upload the score file (ending with.dsz) to your iPad from your computer via AirDrop on an Apple, or cable from a PC. Instructions on how to do this and using the Decibel ScorePlayer, more generally are included in the Application, which ships with five other scores.
Thus my works have different versions of the score, as you may see above. A PDF/PNG file of the score ‘image’, a DSZ file to upload onto the iPad for performance, and for some less complex scores, a video version. Hardcopies are also available from my publisher. You can find out more about the Decibel ScorePlayer, and how to make your own scores for it, here.
Synergy Percussion, online project with video by Sam James, 2016, 1'20" version.
Yarnwire, StonyBrook University, 2019, 8'30" version.
Enseble Offstring, Sizzle, 2022.
DecibelScorePlayer file, score image, instructions. Below are three video resources: the score as video, a live performance, and the original video for the Synergy Percussion project.