Pearl City takes its name (though not its character) from a town on the island of Oahu. The image of a city of pearls struck me as a glittering fantasy, one that suggested a somewhat humorous walk through a jeweled Nirvana. Taking its cue from the idea of a pearl, the piece incorporates characteristics of its mollusk-produced namesake. Just as a pearl is created when a small irritant, such as a grain of sand, is introduced into an oyster, Pearl City is built on a simple two-note motive (a rising minor third), which acts as an irritant, with two contrasting themes built around it. These two themes alternate, continually recurring in various forms throughout the work, and finally coalescing into a single idea at the climax of the piece. The word "pearl" also means a pale gray color with bluish overtones, another idea that is incorporated into Pearl City. Harmonically and rhythmically, the piece has "bluish overtones", in the sense that it uses blues scales and chords, along with much syncopation. The final "pearly" reference is that of form. Just as a pearl eventually takes on a rounded shape, the shape of Pearl City is rounded off when the opening material returns to end the piece.