Bead[s] (by bead[s]) (2015)

Chie Tsang Lee

string quartet, and piano

Program Notes

Until this century, no one is able to know and define what actually the bead is. The fundamental principle of its design has not been changed since 100,000 years ago, a small stringed object which can be found almost in every part of place, people, and culture. What so interested me is that the bead is not just only an object nor an accessory of ornament but it can be seen as a [time] capsule carried along with rich, massive hiddenness of human information. It is the way in which people transfer and transform their experiences, knowledge, and memories from time to time, from one generation to another. To me, when I hold a bead I hold, I experience, and I travel to another part/state of world.

The structure and setting of this piece are inspired by two distinct periods of poems written by Eleanor Goroh, a Borneon bead maker/designer and Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, a Persian poet/jurist/Islamic scholar.

Thousands of them were buried with beads,
The secret passage the beads will give,
They may be small now, small thoughts, small things, In time they grow old like any human being, Thousands of beads on many untied strings, Pick them up, put them on feel the presence it brings, A present a gift a tradition than sings,
Old songs forgotten but never ending.

Eleanor Goroh

The clear bead at the center changes everything. There are no edges to my loving now.
I’ve heard it said there’s a window that opens from one mind to another,
but if there’s no wall, there’s no need for fitting the window, or the latch.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, Tr. C. Barks & J. Moyne, ‘Open Secret’