Posted By : Jeff Moore
Piece Title : Fabian Theory
No. of times Viewed (September 2019) :20
Total No. of times Viewed :4357
No. of Media Uploads :0(Videos -0, MP3 - 0, Photos - 0)
Dificulty Rating :
Level : Senior / Graduate
Composer / Arranger : Westlake, Nigel (1958-)
Composer / Arranger Details:



For more than 3 decades, Nigel Westlake has been a prominent figure in the field of music. Born to parents having professional music careers, Nigel Westlake expressed interest in the same craft.  He left school at the age of 16 to study music. His father, Donald Westlake is a famous Australian musician & principal clarinetist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra from 1961 to 1979, to whom he studied clarinet with. At the age of 17 (1975), Nigel Westlake made his first professional recording with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra as the group`s bass clariner player in Stravinsky`s Rite of Spring. He also toured around Australia and other parts of the world to play with ballet companies, circus troupes, chamber music groups, fusion bands and orchestras. Music became his passport to key cities such as London, New York, Rome, Washington, Tokyo, Beijing, Paris, Amsterdam, Vancouver, Moscow, Hong Kong, Berlin, New Delhi and Singapore. 



Westlake`s interest in composition started in the late 1970`s. It was then when he started to form a classical/jazz/world-music fusion band, Magic Puddin` Band, to play original music. Most of his compositions were premiered in his band. It was also then when he started getting composition offers from radio and the Flying Fruit Fly Circus. Offers for TV and film eventually followed. In 1983, he decided to pursue advanced studies in contemporary music in the Netherlands. He became a clarinetist of the Australia Ensemble at the University of New South Wales from 1987 to 1992. In 1992, he became a performer and composer for John Williams`s group, Attacca as they toured United Kingdom and Australia. These opportunities made him decide to focus on composition. Generally, his music encompasses a wide range of genres, including theatre. However, major part of his composing output has been concert hall works for soloist, chamber ensembles and orchestra.


Westlake gained a lot of credits as he entered film and television. His music became an important part of movies such as MISS POTTER, BABE, BABE - PIG IN THE CITY, CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION, A LITTLE BIT OF SOUL, THE NUGGET and the Imax films ANTARCTICA, IMAGINE, THE EDGE & SOLARMAX. For television, he worked on the music of famous documentaries, telemovies, news programs and station ID`s. Also, some of his compositions were able to penetrate the Sydney Olympics 2000 as these were used in feature international T.V. broadcasts.


Westlake`s music also wowed the entertainment critiques as his creations gain recognition around the world. Most of his creations were used in hit movies such as Babe and Miss Potter. In fact, the world-renowned Beatrix Potter biopic Miss Potter won the "Feature Film Score of the Year" & "Best Soundtrack Album" at the 2007 APRA / AGSC Screen Music Awards. He also won the Gold Medal at the New York International Radio Festival and numerous APRA and Screen Composer Guild Awards. Babe, which became an international hit, won the `Best Feature Musical/Comedy` at the Golden Globe Award in 1996. In 2004, he was awarded the HC Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship at the Australian National University.


Westlake did not miss the chance to do conducting. It was in 1997 when he started conducting and it was with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.


Westlake has gotten a long way in his craft. His works, in fact have been performed by:

John Williams, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, The Takacs Quartet, The Australia Ensemble, Michael Kieran Harvey, Synergy Percussion, Amsterdam Percussion Ensemble, Trilok Gurtu, New York Percussion Quartet, Craig Ogden, Slava Grigoryan, Leonard Grigoryan, Timothy Kain, Karin Schaupp, , Goldner String Quartet, Elektra String Quartet, Macquarie Trio, Sydney Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony, The Queensland Orchestra, West Australia Symphony, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Saffire, Guitartrek, Ogden Tanner, The Seymour Group, Australian Virtuosi, The Academy of Melbourne, Simon Tedeschi, Ensemble Aark, Percadu, Rebecca Lagos, & Catherine McCorkill, Schoenberg Ensemble, Berlin Philharmonie, 4-Maility Percussion quartet.


and conducted by :


Kent Nagano, Paul Daniel, Richard Hickox, Markus Stenz, Ola Rudner, David Porcelijn, Yaron Traub, Jean Louis Forestier, Richard Gill, Brett Kelly, Benjamin Wallfisch, David Stanhope, Vladimir Verbitsky, Andrew Litton, Michael Christie & John Demain, Reinbert de Leeuw

Omphalo Centric Lecture (1984), his opus one for percussion quartet has become one of the most frequently performed and recorded works in the percussion repertoire by groups in the USA, Japan, Europe and Australia.

Recently in 2008, he formed the Smugglers of Light Foundation in memory of his son Eli, which promotes storytelling through film and music in youth and Indigenous communities.

Total Number of Percussionists Required :1 Percussionist(s)
Categories : Tuned Percussion
Instrument / Discipline : Marimba
Instrumentation : 4 1/3 Octave Marimba (Low A) / Tom (x3)
Range of Instruments / Number of Drums : 4 1/3
Written for / Commissioned by : Synergy Percussion-Australia Council Music Bo
Permission given for Youtube video by Copyright holder
and Youtube Channel Owner. Recorded / Provided by:
 Permission Granted by Nigel Westlake. Thank you for your support.
Accompanied :N/A
Publisher :Rimshot Music
Publishers Website :http://www.rimshot.com.au/
Publisher Details :

Rimshot Music. Publishing and distributing music by Nigel Westlake

Year Composed / Copyright Date :1987 /  1987
Duration :6Minutes
No. of Mallets/Sticks Required :Various
Special Needs :5 and 4 mallets version available / Delay required. Toms or Octobans required.
Sheet Music Available From :www.southernpercussion.co.uk/product.php/fabian_theory      Check to see if in stock
Programme Notes / Performance Details :

Fabian Theory was originally written for 5 mallets but has since been revised for 4.

Reference: Fabian Technical Performance Notes



It should be noted that in some of the earlier editions of Fabian Theory, there is a missing tempo marking. Measure 193 should be marked with "Tempo Primo / quarter note = 106". This tempo is maintained until the next tempo marking at measure 211.

Here are a bunch of hints ,suggestions ,questions, answers & ideas from other percussionists concerning the performance of the piece:

Working with the delay on stage

In order to perform the piece accurately, it is important to be able to clearly monitor the signal from the delay unit, so as to synchronize your playing with this signal.
One of the main problems encountered with Fabian Theory performances is feedback generated from monitoring this signal.
If you are using a foldback wedge on stage to monitor the delay signal, chances are it will set up a feedback loop within the delay (the microphone above the marimba picks up the signal from the foldback monitor & begins to feedback.)
You can get around this problem by monitoring your delay signal through headphones (mini earphones are sufficient - & less obtrusive visually).
Make sure you leave plenty of time to set yourself up on stage before the performance - it can often take a while to obtain the right balance through the P.A. system.
Also.....make sure you are able to practice the piece with the delay unit itself, as this is quite difficult & can take a while to get the hang of.

With some delays, upon the depression of a footswitch connected to the unit, the material that has just been "recorded" into the delay is "held" & repeated. The delay time = 1 quarter note & the idea of the loop is simply to catch a "quarter notes" worth of the stuff being recorded into the delay at this point, which repeats until measure 87.
If the figure in measures 49-50 is fed into the delay with the right feedback, this should result in an effect similar to that of 4 or 5 marimbas all playing that sequence of notes - but each part being delayed by a quarter note.
By "capturing" (with the footswitch) the material in the delay at the end of measure 50 - you should end up with 1 quarter notes worth of this pulsating, multiple marimba effect.
One problem that has been encountered by various players is that some delay lines produce a nasty sounding "click" at the moment the footswitch is depressed (which keeps repeating until the loop is turned off!). The `click` can be minimized with practice, but some players have constructed the "loop" as a pre-recorded sample & triggered it (in sync) by some form of midi mallet device (i.e. KAT) . Percussionists the world over seem to be particularly resourceful with regard to these kinds of issues.

Here`s one particularly inventive solution to the "Loop issue" from a percussionist in West Virginia :

"I recorded a few bars of the ostinato pattern at bars 49-50 into my laptop, then added the delay effect in an audio editing program. Then, I counted the total number of beats the ostinato should last (157 1/4-notes, plus an additional 1/8th-note), and looped it that many times. (This avoids having to worry about turning off the sampled pattern---instead, it just ends at the correct time.) Finally, I used a DrumKat MIDI percussion controller to trigger the sampled pattern via MIDI (the sample plays back from the laptop). I have the DrumKat positioned right next to the bottom of the marimba, so I can easily trigger the sample with my left mallet.

To turn off the delay effect in bar 49 (and back on again in bar 87) I use a simple footswitch connected to the delay units bypass jack.

I dont know how others are doing it, but I perform the opening section of the piece (through bar 50) with 2 mallets, switching to 4 mallets when I trigger the recorded sample.

One final note: listening to Michael Askills recording was crucial in figuring out the relationships between the delay and the notes played. Im not sure I would have been able to get it right if I couldnt hear how it should sound. No criticism intended, but Im not sure metronome markings alone are adequate. It might be helpful to add some additional notes on what the "composite rhythm" with the delay should be. For example, you might add a small note at bar 215 stating that the delay---in conjunction with performed notes---should create a composite rhythm of 16th-note sextuplets. Or at bar 211, the composite rhythm should be 16th notes. Just an idea!"

Various Questions

Q. - `does the delay remain "on" (sounding) at measure 51, or is the delay bypassed (not sounding)?`

A - With the "loop" now active, the delay effect is bypassed until measure 87, when it starts up again (& the loop is turned off @ measure 87).

Q. - `In measure 87 it says "delay hold off" does this mean turn the delay back on (sounding once again)....if it has been off since measure 51?`

A. - Yes. The "loop" is de-activated & the delay is re-activated.

Q. - I noticed a discrepancy between the score I purchased from you a while ago and a recording of the piece I have by an Australian percussionist (whose name is Michael Askill, I believe?). My question regards bar 110, where the time signature changes from 6/16 to 2/4. In the recording, Askill performs this as if the dotted-eighth-note in 6/16 = the quarter note in 2/4 time. However, the score does not indicate this (therefore the assumption is that the 16th-note remains at a constant tempo throughout, which at this point in the piece should still be at mm=106). If the 1/4-note in bar 110 *should* equal the dotted-eighth-note in the previous bar, then what happens in bar 195? (Where the meter changes from 6/16 to 3/4.) On the recording, Askill considerably slows the tempo at this point (back close to the original tempo of 106). Im happy to play it either way, and just want to be true to the composers original intent. If you could clarify this for me, Id appreciate it!

A. - The tempi do in fact change just as Michael Askill played on the recording. Changing the tempo has the effect of "virtually" changing the note-value of the digital delay.

Q. The "metric modulation" at measure 110 is marked as quarter note =134. If the dotted eighth from measure 109 equals the quarter in measure 110, shouldnt the tempo be closer to quarter note =141? More importantly, what is the intended composite rhythm? Very slight changes in tempo (134 vs 141) have drastic effects on the composite through the delay. It seems the Askill recording settles around 134, but that wouldnt be the "correct" metric modulation mathematically.

A. I see where you are coming from - but its not intended as an actual metric modulation - simply a strict tempo shift.
If you take a metronome pulse of 134 & put it through the delay, you should be able to hear something like this..............

Now play the marimba pattern at measure 110 through the delay at precisely the tempo of quarter note = 134.
It should sound something like this.........

Q. Im really curious about the transition between measure 214 and measure 215. The quater note =90 tempo makes sense with the previous marked tempo of quarter note=134 in terms of metric modulation, but if quarter note =134 is incorrect based on the fact that the dotted eighth at 106 becomes the new quarter note in the next section, is the quarter note =90 also incorrect?
Most importantly, what should the composite rhythm through the delay be at measure 215? One person on the FAQ suggested that the composite at measure 211 should be sixteenth notes (which doesnt make sense if a metric modulation truly occurs) and that the resulting rhythm at measure 215 should be sixtuplets (which doesnt quite seem to work based on the relationship between the digital delays 566 miliseconds and the rhythmic material being played at 90 bpm).

A. Again - there is no actual metric modulation intended here - just another strict tempo shift.
The effect of playing the triplet patterns through the delay at measure 215 at a tempo of quarter note = 90 should result in a constant flow of triplet sixteenths.

Member Rating :  1Vote(s)
Rate This Piece :      
Scheduled Performances : Update
Who Venue Date Time
Member Reviews / Comments
Posted By : Tim Palmer    Date Posted: 12 January 2010 02:50:00 PM
Great Marimba and Multiple setup piece. Ideal for University recitals, exams, competitions and electronic programmes. Requires PA and delay.
Posted By : Jeff Moore    Date Posted: 02 February 2009 08:16:00 AM
Digital loop, amplification, and other electronic sources are needed to perform this piece.
   Add to Favourite Add to Favourite
    Invite a friend to join PMO
     Print this page      Tell a friend
  Spot an error
  Know something about this piece? Tell Us
  Know a piece not on PMO? Post It Now!