Look Out Above
This fierce blend of hip-hop choral music blows the genre wide open. Don’t miss it.
Written in collaboration with Dessa.
Voicing: SATB a cappella, soloists, body percussion, opt. movement
duration: 3-5 minutes
You’ve never heard a piece like this before. “Look Out Above” is a perfect blend of hip-hop, gospel and choral music, complete with vocal and body percussion. Your singers are guaranteed to LOVE it, and your audience will too. This second collaboration between Dessa and Jocelyn Hagen blows the genre wide open. Hopefully it’s not their last.
We can’t be stopped
they can’t catch us
just like midnight on the clock:
it’s all hands up–
before tick goes toc,
it’s just the dust we kick up, so
look out, look out, look out
look out above
cause we’re coming up
look about above
there’s no stopping us
We can’t be stopped….
Some vocal works ask to be delivered by a perfect blend of voices: a finely tuned, powerful, unified sound. This isn’t one of those pieces. Nail the timing and the pitch, but I wouldn’t labor over every vowel sound–better to feel the music in your body than to look from side to side to make sure you’re in musical consensus with your neighbors. The natural friction between different voices is part of what gives pop music style; it’s that X-factor that tells us when a singer really means it. Don’t strive to be a choir of angels on this one. Be a room full of humans.
– Dessa (2017)
To the Conductor:
Congratulations on your decision to program “Look Out Above” with your choir. You are officially an adventurous conductor, committed to learning and exploring a work that requires movement, improvisation, bravery, and fierce commitment.
I was lucky to workshop this piece throughout its creation with Dr. Michael McGaghie and the choir students at Macalester College in St. Paul. I tried out a bunch of new and sometimes unorthodox ideas with them. Some of them worked beautifully, while others did not. It was an incredible journey.
You are about to go on an incredible journey with your choir. Within this score you will find a basic set of instructions for its performance, but I am asking you to go beyond what’s written on the page. Try out your own ideas ~ improvise ~ listen to your students and allow their creativity to seep into your performance. I want to see “Look Out Above” take on the individual character of the choir that is performing it. You want to hold something a little longer? Great. You want to add more repeats? Yep. More solos? Sure! A rap? Cool. Make this piece your own. Help it live outside these pages!
Then please share it with me. I want to see your process, your performance, and anything in between. I want to cheer you on. You got this!
Twitter & Instagram: @JocelynHagenMus
Facebook: Jocelyn Hagen (composer)
To the Singers:
Dessa has written you an incredible text and an incredible hook. I hope it speaks to you. You are the next generation, and you have the ability to invent a life for yourself that you love and make the world a better place. You can’t be stopped. Live the life you dream.
– Jocelyn Hagen (2018)