SpecAbilities
SpecAbilities is a program in which
children with disabilities write melodies
and perform music using adaptive
computer hardware and software
developed by Dan Moffatt.  Moffatt
invited jazz musicians to write pieces
based on the melodies.

The musicians included pianist
Larry McDonough, banjo player
Yoshihiro Arita, pianist Bill Carrothers,
bassist Avishai Cohen, drummer
Dave Weckl, bassist Gordy Johnson,
and bassist Chris Silverstein.  The
children include Christian, Lucas,
Jeffrey, Elie, Larry McDonough’s
daughter Rosie, and Dan Moffatt’s
children Jennifer and Patrick.

McDonough has composed fives piece through the Fingersteps program, and recorded two of them.  Each melody is based on melody fragments written by the children.  McDonough then created harmonies and rhythmic patterns to fit the melodies.  Since the children wrote melodies unrestricted by conventional music training, they pushed McDonough to use unconventional harmonies, rhythms and meters. 

The pieces:

A Rose for Two in 5/4
By Rosie McDonough, Jennifer and Patrick Moffatt, and Larry McDonough

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 Latin meter.

Performed by Larry McDonough, piano, and Richard Terrill, soprano sax, on the Larry McDonough and Richard Terrill CD, Solitude, 2012

Performed by the Larry McDonough Quartet
Larry McDonough, piano, Richard Terrill, tenor sax,
Craig Matarrese, bass, and Chaz Draper, drums
Filmed by Baby Blue Arts
From the Larry McDonough Quartet DVD,
Live at Minnesota Connection, 2012

Performed by Larry McDonough, piano, and
Chaz Draper, drums
Recorded Mary 2002 by John Ziegler and Brian Houle in Duluth, MN
Mixed and Mastered by Matthew Zimmerman, Wild Sound, Minneapolis, MN
From the Larry McDonough CD, A Rose for Two: Live at the Weber on KUMD, 2004

Performed by the St. Paul Central High School
Orchestra, under the direction of Matthew Oyen
From the Larry McDonough CD, My Favorite Things:
Odd Times for Jazz Ensemble, Orchestra and
Concert Band, 2007

Elie’s Theme
By Elie Gorman and Larry McDonough

Elie wrote the 4 note melody fragment, and
McDonough put it into revolving 5 note phrases.

Performed by the Larry McDonough Quartet
Larry McDonough, piano, Richard Terrill, tenor sax,
Craig Matarrese, bass, and Chaz Draper, drums
Recorded by Matthew Zimmerman,
Wild Sound, Minneapolis
From the Larry McDonough Quartet CD, Simple Gifts.

Solitude in 7/4
By Elie Gorman, Jack Thuleen, Christian Adzick, and Larry McDonough

McDonough took the melodies written by Elie, Jack and Christian and used them as long tones, over a fluid 7/4 bass pattern. The melody drove a harmonic structure which moves from Bb minor to E minor, an unusual modulation of a tritone.  Poet, English Professor and sax player Richard Terrill added lyrics.

Performed by Larry McDonough, piano and voice, and Richard Terrill, soprano sax, on the Larry McDonough and Richard Terrill CD, Solitude, 2012

Waltz for Christian in 3/4
By Christian Adzick and Larry McDonough

Christian wrote a 5 note melody, and McDonough put it into revolving phrases, some forward and some backward, over an fast walz rhythm, leading to an unusual 22 bar length for the piece.  Richard Terrill added lyrics.

Performed by Larry McDonough, piano and voice, and Richard Terrill, soprano sax, on the upcoming Larry McDonough and Richard Terrill CD, Solitude, 2012

Funkabilty
By Lucas Jacobson, Jack Thuleen, and Larry McDonough

Lucas and Jack wrote an angular melody which McDonough used as long tones over a ostinato funk bass line.

Performed by the Larry McDonough Quartet on the CD Alice in Stonehenge and other AcoustElectric Adventures.

Rosie and Larry McDonough