Larry McDonough has been composing and arranging music for school music programs for over thirty years. He has written for chamber groups to orchestra, concert bands and jazz ensembles, focusing on exposing young musicians to jazz harmonies and rhythms, improvisation, and uncommon time signatures.
The original piece “A Rose for Two in 5/4” is from the Fingersteps Project, in which compositions are based on melodies written by children with disabilities with adaptive computer equipment. “A Rose for Two” is based on melodies written by McDonough’s daughter Rosie, and Jennifer and Patrick, children of Fingersteps creator Dan Moffatt, http://www.fingersteps.org. Rosie wrote the A section melody, Jennifer and Patrick wrote the B section melody, and McDonough placed them over shifting minor harmonies and a 5/4 meter. It is performed by the St. Paul Central High School Orchestra under the direction of Matthew Oyen.
The original piece “Namekagon” is named after the Northern Wisconsin river, and based on the concept of Jobin melody, harmony and rhythm applied to the environment of North America. It begins with the illusion of 3/4 in the percussion and cascading lines and 3/4 and 4/4 over a tritone progression of FM7 and B7 before moving into the main body of the piece, with each section of the jazz ensemble taking the melody at different points, ending with the introduction repeated. It is performed by the Minnesota Youth Jazz Band, under the Direction of Phil Holm (track 3), and the St. Paul Central High School Concert Band under the direction of Matthew Oyen (track 7).
The original piece “Tango para Maria Luiza in 9/4” is dedicated to McDonough’s Aunt Mary Louise Kennedy. She was the other professional musician in McDonough’s extended family, majoring in music at the University of Iowa and teaching piano throughout her life. “Tango para Maria Luiza” draws on the style of the tango, a social dance form originating in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay. McDonough put the piece in 9/4 time, an unusual meter for the tango, which has the feel of a 4/4 bar followed by 5/4 bar. He arranged it for orchestra, given Kennedy’s love of orchestral music. The slow tempo along with the odd meter requires the musicians to play patiently but with a keen focus on the beats per bar. It is performed by the St. Paul Central High School Orchestra under the direction of Matthew Oyen.
“Summertime in 7/4” is a challenging arrangement for jazz ensemble. It is in the meter of 7/4, and unusual meter for music in general, and jazz in particular. Each bar has the feel of a 4/4 bar followed by a 3/4 bar. The piece also moves between several rhythm patterns or “groves,” including New Age (light feel with straight 8th notes), Latin (louder and intense, with heavy percussion and straight 8th notes), and Swing (swing 8th notes). The arrangement challenges the musician to focus both on the odd meter and the constantly changing groves. It is performed by the St. Paul Central High School Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Matthew Oyen.
“Sirocco in 7/4” is the name of a hot east wind blowing from Northern Africa across the Mediterranean Sea to Southern Europe. McDonough put it in 7/4 time with 7 bar phrases, with a “hot” A section and “cool” B section to simulate the sirocco winds. It is performed by the Minnesota Youth Jazz Band, under the Direction of Phil Holm.