Classical Piano Solo – Tear of Ambiguity

November 14th, 2012

This is an extremely challenging classical piano solo that requires the pianist to have complete right and left hand independence in order to perform it with the passion and freedom that it calls for. The rapid independent lines coupled with the sustain pedal being employed throughout entire sections of the piece creates an enormous sound wall that peaks in volume at the climax of the solo and dies away naturally without dampening the strings. This of course has the danger of any wrong notes being very obvious for several seconds during these sections. Taking all of these things into account, this classical piano solo is clearly written for a very accomplish pianist.

Download Score (pdf) – $8.49
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Sample Score

Watch a player piano make the recording

Additional information

Duration: 6:30

Instrumentation: Solo piano

As I was writing this piece I could never quite decide which emotion I was attempting to capture. Whatever I had in mind, it was an emotion that would bring a person to tears. My goal has ended up being for me to convince the listener to empathize with another person’s suffering and unspeakable joy simultaneously. Some may view this concept as silly and far from practical, but this is the emotion that I think of when I see something incredible to come in the midst of a difficult situation. The adversity must take place in order for joy to result, but terrific end or not it still hurts in the meantime. The journey is beautiful because of its result.

Special thanks to Cornerstone University for allowing me to use their 6 foot yamaha grand player piano.


"Tear of Ambiguity" on a Real Piano

November 8th, 2012

The real recording of Tear of Ambiguity is being released on an event page of the Facebook site on Thursday, November 15. Invite some friends to the event and come listen to this special release of one of my first compositions.

Along with this new recording, I will be releasing the revised score to Tear of Ambiguity as well. I’ve been meaning to do this for a very long time and have finally gotten around to it. It will also be available on the 15th.

Special thanks to Cornerstone University for allowing me to use their 6 foot Yamaha grand player piano. The recording (while being a real piano) was actually still made by a machine. A few years ago I was at Cornerstone, and I had an opportunity to program some of my work into the player function of a grand piano. Using 5 carefully place microphones to capture the sound, I let the piano execute the programming and I had a recording. Technology really is amazing…and this is old technology too!

A big thank you as well to my teachers and peers who helped me to polish and revise the score to this work. The people surrounding me at that point in my life were the ones who helped get this whole thing started.


“Tear of Ambiguity” on a Real Piano

November 8th, 2012

The real recording of Tear of Ambiguity is being released on an event page of the Facebook site on Thursday, November 15. Invite some friends to the event and come listen to this special release of one of my first compositions.

Along with this new recording, I will be releasing the revised score to Tear of Ambiguity as well. I’ve been meaning to do this for a very long time and have finally gotten around to it. It will also be available on the 15th.

Special thanks to Cornerstone University for allowing me to use their 6 foot Yamaha grand player piano. The recording (while being a real piano) was actually still made by a machine. A few years ago I was at Cornerstone, and I had an opportunity to program some of my work into the player function of a grand piano. Using 5 carefully place microphones to capture the sound, I let the piano execute the programming and I had a recording. Technology really is amazing…and this is old technology too!

A big thank you as well to my teachers and peers who helped me to polish and revise the score to this work. The people surrounding me at that point in my life were the ones who helped get this whole thing started.


Bass Clarinet and Marimba – Underneath the Spreading Tree

November 8th, 2011

This bass clarinet and marimba duet, while being very difficult, is full of wonderfully rich sounds and textures that you can not produce with any other combination of instruments. I partly regret my choice of instrumentation and may rewrite it for something more practical someday, but my reason for the choice is because of a phrase in Isaiah 55:12, “…all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” This personification stirred my creative curiosity on the brink of obsession, and I could not get the combination of bass clarinet and marimba out of my head. They are the perfect two instruments to depict the sound of living trees rejoicing over redeemed Israel and I couldn’t rest until I’d used them together for the purpose. However, a story is pointless if you only share the ending without saying how it came about. Using the perspective of the trees in the land I’ve written this work to tell the story of Israel’s fall into paganism, God’s judgement on them, and then finally their redemption. To listen to this work correctly, you must understand that you’re listening to a tree tell a story.

This video is only a sample of the work.

Download score and parts (PDF) ($14.49)
 Foreign Currency? Click Here.

Sample score

Additional information

Duration: 11:00

Throughout the major prophets in the Old Testament, the term “spreading tree” is used repeatedly in reference to the location in which the nation of Israel conducted their sinful pagan rituals. If one applies the personification of the trees in Isaiah 55 to these texts, it’s not hard to imagine what sorts of sounds God’s trees would make in response to detestable practices being performed underneath them. These practices included various ceremonies to honor false gods, ritualistic sexuality (mass orgies), and child sacrifice; clearly detestable practices in the eyes of God. The beginning of this tree’s story portrays these pagan ceremonies through primitive sounding harmonies and intricate rhythmic dancelike textures. At first these sounds seem innocent, but as the work progresses the harmonies are twisted to depict the darker components of pagan Israel’s worship.

The following are the texts I had in mind while writing this beginning section:

Jeremiah 2:20 (NIV), “Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, ‘I will not serve you!’ Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute.”

Isaiah 57:5, “You burn with lust among the oaks and under every spreading tree; you sacrifice your children in the ravines and under the overhanging crags.”

The second section is the tree’s telling of God’s response to Israel’s disobedience. This is depicted by energetic and ominous sounds followed by sounds of intense sorrow. It is the tree’s version of these texts:

Jeremiah 4:13-15, “Our enemy rushes down on us like storm clouds! His chariots are like whirlwinds. His horses are swifter than eagles. How terrible it will be, for we are doomed! O Jerusalem, cleanse your heart that you may be saved. How long will you harbor your evil thoughts? Your destruction has been announced from Dan and the hill country of Ephraim.”

Jeremiah 13:24-27, “‘I will scatter you like chaff that is blown away by the desert winds. This is your allotment, the portion I have assigned to you,’ says the Lord, ‘for you have forgotten me, putting your trust in false gods. I myself will strip you and expose you to shame. I have seen your adultery and lust, and your disgusting idol worship out in the fields and on the hills. What sorrow awaits you, Jerusalem! How long before you are pure?'”

The final section depicts the tree’s swelling joy at the thought of the future return of God’s people to the land, the original reason I set out to write this work:

Isaiah 55:12,
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”


Flute Solo – Ivory Desert

November 4th, 2011

This flute solo was written for a composition seminar in which Dr. Ricardo Lorenz paired each participating composer with a participating performer in order to write a solo for each performer’s instrument. Throughout the semester, Joelle Willems (the flute player whom I consider a co-composer of this work) and I met periodically to discuss the flute solo I was writing. She would play passages that I’d written and together we’d make detailed modifications to make the solo more idiomatic for the flute while still keeping my creative intent intact. As I expected, these sessions not only changed the way I originally intended certain things to be played, but it changed the sort of flute solo that I wanted to write. As we went along, Joelle showed me certain aspects of the flute of which I was unaware, and I immediately took that knowledge and applied it to the solo. Working directly and as often as possible with a performer is the most effective compositional technique I have ever encountered.

Performer: Joelle Willems

Download score (PDF) $8.99
Foreign Currency? Click Here.

Preview first page of score

This flute solo is still extremely challenging. It uses the full range of the flute in dynamics and pitch as well as several extended techniques. Between slow lyrical sections, rapid and aggressive passages, sweeping melodic gestures, expressive grace notes, flutter tonguing, and guided improvisation this piece offers the advanced flutist everything they could want in a short unaccompanied solo.

The title refers to an object of beauty that is incapable of being observed because it destroys the life that is attracted to it with the very thing that makes it beautiful. Thus, the piece reflects radiant beauty, loneliness, and lifelessness.

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