Alto Saxophone Solo – Psalm 51

February 17th, 2012

This alto saxophone solo is a musical depiction of Psalm 51; a biblical text describing David’s sorrow over his sin. Using a concert A drone (from any source you want) to create harmonic tension and release throughout the solo, the music follows the same emotional path that the psalm does. It begins in lament and brokenness and slowly moves towards repentance, and restoration.

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Download Recording (mp3) ($0.59)
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Below is the text off of which this alto saxophone solo is based:

Have mercy on me, O God,
   according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
   blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
   and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
   and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
   and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
   and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
   sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
   you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
   wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
   let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
   and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
   or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
   and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
   so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
   you who are God my Savior,
   and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
   and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
   you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
   a broken and contrite heart
   you, God, will not despise.

May it please you to prosper Zion,
   to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
   in burnt offerings offered whole;
   then bulls will be offered on your altar.

-Psalm 51 (NIV)

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.


Soprano Saxophone and Piano Duet – Hide and Seek

September 6th, 2010

I had a very difficult time finishing soprano saxophone and piano duet. It began as a simple exercise in exploring orchestrational possibilities in jazz chords while applying percussion techniques on the keyboard. Adding a line for the saxophone simply seemed like the thing to do at the time, and it made it possible for me to have a live instrument for the presentation of my final project in the class I wrote it for. So I wrote the first two minutes of this piece with no intent outside of making pretty sounds. But I liked the sounds so much that I felt the need to turn them into a coherent musical exposition. After being stuck on the piece for about six months, I finally decided that the only way I was going to finish it was to make up an ending that worked and polish it until it was good.

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

Download score and parts (pdf) – 7.99
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Sample Score

I don’t have a sense of closure when a piece doesn’t seem to have any meaning outside of itself. So even when I had all but finished the piece I still couldn’t leave it alone because I didn’t understand what it meant. And yet I had already named the piece “Hide and Seek” simply because of the way it sounded. It seemed to be trying to go somewhere profound, but became sad when it couldn’t get there. Then it returned to searching for that profound place, this time without being concerned about the result.

The sound reminded me of my childhood games of hide and seek when I would be entertained by looking for my friends that had hidden from me. It was enjoyable not because I found them, but because I found them through a process of searching for them. But sometimes they would hide so well that I would grow weary of looking for them. But it would then be all the more exciting when I found them. But the purpose of the game wasn’t to find but to seek. So becoming irritated because I couldn’t find my friend was silly since all that should have resulted was enjoying the game longer.

While applying this concept to life itself, and thinking about the music in the context of the Purpose project, I finally realized that this piece is about searching for the purpose of life. Many people (myself included) become frustrated when attempting to work out the reason God put them on the earth. While there is the obvious Sunday school answer of “serving, worshipping, knowing, and glorifying God”, very few people are satisfied with that answer and justifiably so. Knowing and glorifying God is an infinitely broad description of our purpose since God is an infinite being. Saying that really means to do what we were doing all along but for a different reason and maybe throwing in a few religious practices to remind you of that reason. But as dissatisfying as the answer may be, it’s still the correct one. However, I’ve taken it a step further with this piece.

The beauty coupled with tension throughout the first fast section recounts the beauty of life in the midst of seeking the reason for our existence and being disillusioned by the answer we find. This results in a discontentment because without knowing the details of why we were put on this earth we have no idea of what to expect from life. So as we move into the slow section we wonder in vain why we exist and therefore what we should be doing with our lives. But in the midst of this anxiety, we find that beauty remains inherent all around us, even throughout our pain. This brings us to the second fast section in which the sounds that were harsh in the beginning have been reinterpreted and are beautiful. Nothing has changed but our reason for perceiving. We’ve realized that we exist for the sake of seeking the answer to the question of our existence. God put us here to ask questions and seek answers. Since God is throughout all aspects of creation, this ends up meaning that God put us here in order to seek Him. We still haven’t moved beyond the broad Sunday school answer, but this realization has satisfied me and justified my life and work.

Purpose hides and so we seek it. But along the way we find beauty and realize that the purpose of life is the process of searching for it.


Prelude

April 16th, 2009

Click here for more information about the saxophone concerto, Transition.

Duration: 49:34

Prelude is the project I have constructed to begin promoting myself as a composer. A previous version was sent to graduate schools as part of my portfolio, but has since been improved in significant ways. The main improvement (besides the sound quality being better over all) is that I have recorded the saxophone part for Transition, capturing the emotion and passion of the piece much more effectively than a synthesizer ever could. However, I should be sure to mention that the recording is very much a studio production, in that there is no possible way that I could perform the concerto in real life to that level of expertise. I have no shame in admitting this since I am not a performer and don’t plan to be.

This project includes what I consider to be my strongest compositions upon graduating from Cornerstone University. It is entitled Prelude since all of the work is not the work of a professional, but a student attempting to become a professional. It is the work that I did to prepare for the future projects that I intend to complete as my career unfolds. This of course not to downplay the quality of the production or to lower your expectations, but to make it clear that this represents where I am coming from and not necessarily where I am going.

Track listing:

1.Tear of Ambiguity———-piano-synthetic realization—6:34

2.The Dark Process———-full orchestra-synthetic realization—17:48

3.Vagrant Contemplation—alto saxophone-performed by Caleb Hugo—4:40

4.Transition——————alto saxophone and wind band-performed by Caleb Hugo and synthesizers—20:23

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