Bassoon Concerto for Orchestra – Against Indifference

November 28th, 2012

I would consider my bassoon concerto to be one of my best pieces. It began as a piece for piano and bassoon, but from the beginning I had plans to orchestrate it. It now works very well in both the piano and orchestral versions, has been reviewed by several bassoonists, and is a favorite among those who listen to my work. Any bassoonist looking for a new challenge to enjoy should most certainly download the free solo part and read through it. You, your accompanist(s), and your audience will love this piece.

Download solo part (free)
Download score and parts (PDF) ($139.99)
Download piano transcription (PDF) ($14.99)

Foreign Currency? Click Here.

Sample Score
Sample Parts
Sample Piano transcription

Additional information:

Instrumentation: bassoon and orchestra (or piano)

Duration: 17:00

Performance notes: I highly recommend that the bassoon be amplified artificially.

This bassoon concerto was heavily influenced by two primary sources. Very few people know it, but John Williams writes fantastic music outside of the film industry. His bassoon concerto (Five Sacred Trees) is pretty much all that I listened to while I was working on this. The other source is actually from literature. Blaise Pascal, a 17th century French philosopher and mathematician, wrote a passionate argument against apathy for eternal matters; a philosophical discourse entitled “Against Indifference.”  Below is the title of each movement and a summary of the argument Pascal was making (the last one is my paraphrase):

Movement I, To the Apathetic

“But as for those who spend their lives without a thought for this final end of life and who, solely because they do not find within themselves the light of conviction, neglect to look elsewhere, and to examine thoroughly whether this opinion is one of those which people accept out of credulous simplicity or one of those which, though obscure in themselves, none the less have a most solid and unshakable foundation: as for them, I view them very differently.”

-Pascal

Movement II, A Lament for Doubt

“I can feel nothing but compassion for those who sincerely lament their doubt, who regard it as the ultimate misfortune, and who, sparing no effort to escape from it, make their search their principal and most serious business.”

-Pascal

Movement III, Search and Fruition

To live a life within the context of eternal existence gives us joy beyond our understanding. Seek this truth, and it will reveal itself to you.


Context, Symphony No. 1

November 16th, 2011

Purchase Album: Caleb Hugo - Context, Symphony 1CD Baby

Movement I, Realization – 12:05

There comes a time in a our lives when we absolutely have to accept the fact that the universe is bigger than we are. We have to realize that we are suspended between the two infinities of complexity and immensity. This movement represents our struggle when we are beginning to see this but are reluctant to accept its implications; that we are very small. We as individuals are selfish beings that want to be declared significant in one way or another. When this attitude is taken to an extreme, we have difficulty accepting the fact that there is a world outside of ourselves. An incredible amount of stress results because we now have to overcome our context in order for the world around us to reflect our belief. If we as individuals are successful in ruling our immediate context, our surroundings simply become larger. We are never satisfied because we naturally seek to become more significant than we currently are. Eventually frustration results when we realize that our happiness cannot come from our own significance since no matter how much we accomplish for ourselves, we remain dissatisfied and unhappy. Therefore, our pursuit of contentment lies outside of ourselves, but so long as we are unwilling to admit that we are not bigger than the universe we will not be content.

Movement II, Rejection – 7:55

We as individuals often refuse to let ourselves believe that we are not the most important thing in the universe. Since we must be wrong (only one person can be the most important) anger and frustration surface while we attempt to make ourselves more important so that reality conforms to our belief. Since we are finite human beings that are attempting to overcome an infinite obstacle we eventually wear ourselves out due to the fact that our power has limits. This movement depicts the our constant attempts to be declared significant in our context. As we fight our way towards contentment and happiness, the world around us continues to become bigger. Finally we are completely spent and have lost the ability to go any further. We must seek a new direction or continue to suffer until we die.

Movement III, Submission – 12:45

In this movement, constant attempts to be declared significant has forced our perception of the universe to be so vast that we feel as though we have been swallowed up by its immensity. We have realized that the only way to survive is to stop trying to overcome our context, but this leaves us in complete despair. We slowly realize that the only way to find contentment is not to overcome our surroundings, but to become an irreplaceable component of them. We finally find contentment when we put ourselves in context with the universe. This gives us both infinite significance and infinite insignificance simultaneously.

Movement IV, Perseverance – 12:35

A compromise has been reached making it possible for us to be content. However it is very easy to fall back into the human tendency of selfishness. In fact, it is so easy that it seems as though we are not capable of maintaining or even truly developing a mentality of selflessness without outside help from a Being greater than ourselves. In order to truly find our place in the universe we must become dependent upon a being that is capable of complete humility. We soon realize that this being is throughout the entire universe, in every human component of the universe that is submissive, and that He is a relational being who wants us to know Him. Understanding this even at the most basic level gives us unspeakable joy and forces us to fall down in worship of this eternal and infinitely significant Being. We have found our context in our Creator and have become a part of His existence, and once we submit and become part of this context which envelopes us, we have infinite and eternal happiness that will never be compromised.

____________________________

Context truly is a symphony by definition due to the fact that it follows the classic form of the symphony quite closely. The term symphony is often used flippantly, but in this case I intend it to mean what it has always meant: a large work for a large ensemble that shows what the composer was capable of at that point in his life. Since this project fits into this category and was designed to do so, the listener must know a few things about how to listen to a work of such magnitude.

Usually when we listen to music we don’t expect one musical idea to last more than five to ten minutes. In popular culture three to four minutes is all a person’s attention span can take. This work on the other hand takes forty-five minutes to listen to and must be understood as a whole in order to get the most out of the listening experience. Throughout this work, there are two motives that are used excessively, which is why you may notice that even when the music seems chaotic you can still understand it. This tends to happen at the subconscious level, but when studied and analyzed you will find that it makes perfect sense for your mind to keep being drawn into music. Using this motivic material and developing it further makes it possible to unify even hours of music into one coherent idea without losing the interest of the listener. The listener should therefore not only listen to the sounds themselves as they come in and out of perception, but as they get to know the piece better should concentrate on perceiving the entire work on the massive level in which it exists. Only when the medium of time is eliminated completely can this piece or any piece for that matter be enjoyed up to its potential.

The sounds that I have developed is a topic that I hope musical critiques will deeply address someday. I have taken the new technology from Logic Pro 8’s Sculpture and have used it exclusively for this project. Outside of the percussion every sound has been engineered from scratch using Sculpture and done without previous outside training in sound engineering. This is to the credit of Logic’s developers at Apple. The software is so intuitive and straight forward that composers of electronic music no longer have to know anything about programing in order to successfully achieve good sounds. I hope that my use of this technology will inspire more musicians to create with this technology and to keep music moving forward into a new and unexplored frontier.

Thank you to my friends, family, and teachers for your continued love and support. Without all of you my work would not be possible.


Wind Band – Shekinah

November 9th, 2011

Even while being mostly half and whole notes, this composition for wind band can be extremely challenging. The wide spacing of perfect intervals at exposed moments between instruments of different families demands that the wind band have an acute sense of intonation in order to have a pleasing performance. Also, in order for this wind band composition to be effective, it must be noted that the climax of the music is intended to be at mm. 21 and not at the very end. It cannot be stressed enough how massive the sound of the bass drums needs to be at that moment. If a cannon were practical I would have notated for that to be used as well (if you’re able to use one, feel free). By climax, I mean to say what will be perceived as the loudest and most exciting moment for the average listener. After this happens, the rest of the work is to sound so other-worldly that the strangeness causes discomfort and awe. The end can be taken as a climax of emotion and the other a climax of power.

Download Score and Parts (pdf) – $39.99
 Foreign Currency? Click Here.

The download includes 8.5×11 and 11×17 versions of the score.

Sample score and parts

This wind band composition is a programatic work based on the text of Exodus 33:18-21 in which Moses said to God “Now show me your glory.” God proceeded to hide Moses in the cleft of a rock, put his hand over Moses as he passed, and then allowed Moses see His back. The sound in the beginning depicts a distant radiance as the Almighty approached. When the sound becomes as big and radiant as possible, the massive bass drum hit is the hand of God coming down to hide Moses in the rock. This is followed by the full radiance of God seeping through the cracks between God’s hand and the rock as He passes by. At last, the end of the piece depicts God lifting his hand from the rock and letting Moses see His back. It would be an other-worldly and terrifying experience to perceive the holiness of God in this way.


Transition

November 4th, 2011

This sample is taken from my album, Prelude. Click here  for more information.

Download score, parts, and solo part (PDF) ($129.99). (Includes 8.5×11 and 11×17 versions of the score as well as a complimentary piano reduction.)
Foreign Currency? Click Here.

Purchase piano reduction, solo part, and accompaniment mp3 ($16.49)

Sample accompaniment mp3

Sample scores

Sample piano reduction

Duration: 21:00

Performance notes: This Concerto features an extremely difficult saxophone part utilizing the saxophone’s countless timbres, agility, and altissimo register. The performer must have a particularly acute sense of rhythmic precision and strong upper range; like any other concerto in history the soloist must be an extremely accomplished musician. There are also special effects that are particular to the woodwind family including multi-phonics, growling, pitch bends, portamenti, and quarter tone trills.

If the performer generally has a dark sound, the soloist will be overpowered, particularly in the second movement. This can compensated for by the performer using a brighter timbre during these densely scored sections, performing in a brighter hall, telling the band to switch to one on a part, or by artificial amplification. Be sure to consult a sound engineer on how to amplify the soloist if you choose this solution.

Musical interpretation: The title of this work has two meanings. In one sense it is the representation of life in general going through change. In order to settle upon a contented state, one must not fight the changes they go through in life but rather change their attitude towards their new surroundings. It is not our circumstances that make us happy, but our attitude towards our surroundings that governs how we feel. After all, a person can have everything in the world going their way and still be unhappy. I have attempted to capture this concept with this work. My suggestion to see this in the music is to think of the saxophone as a person seeking contentment and the band as the person’s environment (I hope you now see why I have chosen to not thin the orchestration).

On the other hand, this work is a perfect representation of how I have viewed life throughout the year of June 2007 through June 2008. I listen to this work and remember days and times that I assign to certain sections of the piece, some of which are documented in my journal. I will obviously not go into depth about this, but I will leave this by saying that I learned a lot that year.

In a sense you can say that this piece is about growing up; the attitudes of a person before they start to mature, the pain that is required to mature, and then finally looking at the world through eyes that are seeking deeper understanding. In any case, the work represents a person painfully transitioning into a new and better outlook on life.


Context

June 11th, 2009

For years I have had a sound in my head that I couldn’t manage to produce until I discovered and purchased Logic Pro 8 and began to play and compose with it.  I quickly discovered Sculpture and began to create the sounds I have always wanted to hear.  Having played drums all through high school, I quickly learned how to connect my Yamaha DTXpress to my iMac, and proceeded to perform and manipulate the intricate rock patterns that many fellow musicians often criticized when I was in high school.  Had anyone (including myself) known what was going through my head when I played, my style of drumming may have been better received and used more effectively.  However, my high school rock drumming days have now been channeled into my true passion for classical, or polyphonic, composition.

Between growing up in an environment saturated with popular music and my recent intensive studies in music theory, composition, and  performance, I became passionate about writing a work that would fuse the genres within classical music to the sounds and rhythms I had been playing with for the past nine years.  It is my belief that I have successfully done this and I hope much more:

During my training I obviously was required to be exposed to a wide variety of classical literature.  At first I was apathetic but still listened because I knew that it would be good for my work in composition.  However, I quickly realized that its value was deeper than simply helping me to gain musical understanding.  I was beginning to connect with the music emotionally, particularly with the works of Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Barber, and several others.  There was beauty in the larger formal structure, something captivating in the virtuosity of the performers, and profound wisdom in the compositional techniques which I noticed and began to take to heart.  Yet in the midst of this intellectual pleasure, I still listened to the best of the rock and jazz that I had.  My love for both genres was developing and was coming out in my compositions.  Now I believe that it has come out to the extent of forming a work that will appeal to both exclusively classical musicians and contemporary musicians.

My dream for the past two years has been to write a work that will bring listeners of popular music back into the concert hall.  Although I still listen to a few contemporary artists, I am becoming more and more in love with classical literature both recent and ancient.  Do not misunderstand, it is not my goal to convince people to stop listening to popular music entirely (for this would be tragic), but I desperately want people to take a step in the direction of music that is of high enough quality to stand the test of time.  My first symphony, Context, is the work that I want to send out into the world to begin this process for the people that are interested.

Context truly is an electronic symphony by definition due to the fact that it follows the classic form of the symphony quite closely.  The term “symphony” is often used flippantly, but in this case I intend it to mean what it has always meant:  a large work for a large ensemble that shows what the composer was capable of at that point in his life.  Since this project fits into this category and was designed to do so, the listener must know a few things about how to listen to a work of such magnitude. 

Usually when we listen to music we don’t expect one musical idea to last more than five to ten minutes.   In popular culture three to four minutes is all a person’s attention span can take.  This work on the other hand takes forty-five minutes to listen to and must be understood as a whole in order to get the most out of the listening experience.  Throughout this work, there are two motives that are used excessively, which is why you may notice that even when the music seems chaotic you can still understand it.  This tends to happen at the subconscious level, but when studied and analyzed you will find that it makes perfect sense for your mind to keep being drawn into music.  Using this motivic material and developing it further makes it possible to unify even hours of music into one coherent idea without losing the interest of the listener.  The listener should therefore not only listen to the sounds themselves as they come in and out of perception, but as they get to know the piece better should concentrate on perceiving the entire work on the massive level in which it exists.  Only when the medium of time is eliminated completely can this piece or any piece for that matter be enjoyed up to its potential. 

The sounds that I have developed is a topic that I hope musical critiques will deeply address someday.  I have taken the new technology from Logic Pro 8’s Sculpture and have used it exclusively for this project.  Outside of the percussion every sound has been engineered from scratch using Sculpture and done without previous outside training in sound engineering.  This is to the credit of Logic’s developers at Apple.  The software is so intuitive and straight forward that composers of electronic music no longer have to know anything about programing in order to successfully achieve good sounds.  I hope that my use of this technology will inspire more musicians to create with this technology and to keep music moving forward into a new and unexplored frontier.

Send Caleb a message!

Blog Subscription