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New Ways Of Composing
by Larry Heyl - CC BY

Technology has brought about fundamental changes to music composition. I remember when you sat down at a piano and notated a piece on score paper. Then after the score was completed the composer would transpose each part to it's own page. These manuscripts would be distributed to the musicians.

Composers like Billy Strayhorn got so good at this workflow that they could write a piece on the score with all the parts transposed and then write out the parts and have a piece ready to play in a few hours. On Brooke Gladstone's NPR podcast "Take The A Train", we learn Billy Strayhorn would compose in his head and he would only write the composition down after it was done.

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100731586

Needless to say, not all composers have the talent of Billy Strayhorn, and most of them were glad to use music notation programs, like Finale, to transpose their parts. And the musicians were also happy to play from printed scores instead of manuscript.

Music notation programs were an important technological advance for composers. They are not, however, a great composition tool. There is something about a pencil and eraser that makes it easy to change and improve a composition. I prefer waiting until a piece is done before I go to the computer.

I do compose in my head sometimes, but unlike Billy Strayhorn, I've never written an entire piece before I wrote it down. In fact, I've been known to work on a melody or a change and then when I wake up the next morning it's gone. So I turn to technology.

This article describes my new way of composing. Every composer has their own way of composing and they can each devise their own new way.


My Toolbox
---

Pencil and paper - Although I don't write out complete scores anymore I still always have blank paper and manuscript paper ready for jotting down ideas.

Electric piano - Not every composer works at a keyboard but many do. Not everyone has a piano. I have quite a few. I use my Roland Go:Piano for composing because it's convenient, fits in small spaces, and is battery powered with rechargeable AA batteries. I also use this piano for performing and rehearsing because it weighs 9 lbs and it's battery powered.

Speaker - The Go:Piano has built in speakers but for the best sound I play it through a JBL Eon One Compact. I never realised how good this piano sounded until I played it through this speaker. The Eon One Compact is also battery powered or it can remain plugged in for convenience.

iReal Pro on a tablet - I use a Kindle Fire for it's great sound and low price but to install iReal Pro on a Kindle you have to install Google Play first. Most people already have a phone or tablet that will work fine.

metronome - For practicing parts at different tempos. I also do this with iReal Pro. Sometimes I just want clicks. Sometimes backing tracks.

Zoom flash recorder - Again, any recorder, phone, computer, or tablet will work. I use my Zoom H4 because of the high quality built in mics, battery power, and I already own it.

Finale - Finale is supported on Windows and Macs. There are many alternatives including free alternatives and online alternatives. Finale has a free alternative called Note Pad and a cheaper alternative called Print Music.


My Workflow
---

I write by playing piano. Sometimes chords first, sometimes melody first. I use pencil and paper to notate the chord change. When I have the start of something I'm happy with I record it. Otherwise I can easily forget part of the song I'm working on.

I can do this over a period of days. Playing the piece. Singing the piece. Trying new things. Recording parts I'm happy with. Sometimes a piece falls together in one writing session. More often I continue working on it tomorrow.

iReal Pro has an edit feature where you can enter your own chord changes. After I enter the chord changes iReal Pro has algorithms that play the bass and drum parts. (If you play a horn ireal Pro can also play the piano parts.)

I practice with a metronome and with iReal Pro. Playing the bass and drums backing tracks makes it easier for me to focus on the piano parts and learn the exact rhythms that I want. Improvisation is great and I do improvise during the composition process. My goal, however, is to complete a part with every note and rhythm defined and repeatable. My real composition space is the interface between my fingers and the keys.

Since I write jazz songs they usually have a form that is from 12 to 32 bars in length. The melody and the chord change is called the head. When I am happy with the head I practice it until I am able to play it from memory without mistakes. I continue improving the piece throughout this process, recording it frequently.

It helps to listen to the recordings to hear places that need improvement. So the recordings help me remember what I played yesterday and they also give me a listener's ear on the song.

After I am happy with the head part of the piece I transcribe it to Finale. Transcribing other people's work can be hard. Transcribing your own work is much easier. The hardest part, for me, is making sure all the rhythms are correct.

Jazz is often written in a rhythmic style called swing. Jazz rhythms often have a delay element where it sounds like the musician is playing behind the beat. Jazz vocalists often milk a part singing in what, at first, sounds like free time.

It can be tricky to notate these rhythms in Finale so that they sound like the piece I just wrote and memorized. This is the reason that I learn the piece before I start notating the piece. It is too easy to get used to a rhythm that is close but not exactly right after repeated listenings on Finale.

After I notate the piece I sometimes find ways to improve it. In particular I can get lazy with my left hand rhythms while I'm working out a melody. If I have an idea for improving the left hand rhythms I will notate that idea and then play through the new notation. After I am comfortable with the new rhythm I decide if I want to keep it. If I don't actually like it better Finale supports undo.

As I build out the piece beyond the head, adding harmonies, counterpoint, alternative melodies, solos, and background parts I work back and forth between the Finale notation and the piano and voice. I always focus on the music first and the notation second. The notation should derive from the music. For reading musicians this is sometimes hard to grasp because throughout all their music training they are handed a piece of sheet music and then they derive the music from that. This is exactly topsy turvy from the way a composer writes a piece.

Anytime I add a new part I always go to the piano or voice first. I play until I get something I like. I practice it. I record it. I listen back and I improve it. And then, finally, I notate it. So it's just like the workflow described above, done for each new part.

The exception to this, in my workflow, is writing homophonic harmonies. Since the rhythms are already there I am dealing with note choices so I work with the notation and the piano at the same time adding harmony parts to a melody.

I also use Finale to play just the harmony parts over the bass or just the harmony I'm working on and the melody over the bass. Finale has a mixer that allows me to solo just the parts I want to hear. By leaving out the other instruments it makes it easier to hear the new harmonies.

My goal in writing each harmony part is to write another melody that sounds good played alone as well as when played with the melody or the whole band. Playing just the single harmony part with the bass makes it easy for me to hear that part's melody.

When I have a section where it is listenable I seek knowledgeable advice. I play, sing, or play the finale version for people who will give constructive comments. When you play your music for most people they try to be polite and say things like "that's nice" or "I like it". Try to find people who will go beyond that, actively listen, and point out the parts that work for them and the parts that don't.

I do not rigidly adhere to this workflow. It is my general practice.


Your Toolbox
---

You may not play piano. You may be more comfortable writing on your own instrument. You may want to write melodies on your horn and write chord changes on guitar. Or, like Billy Strayhorn, you may prefer composing in your head.

Every composer and every musician has a different skill set and a different approach to music composition.

You still need a toolbox. Probably at least this.

Pencil and paper

An instrument or your voice

A metronome (could be your phone)

A recorder (could be your phone)

A notation program (could be online)


Your Workflow
---

You will develop this by exercising the practice of composition. The important thing is not to follow a particular workflow but to be aware of what your workflow is. Develop your own workflow thinking about what you do in those terms. Document it if it helps. It certainly helped me.

Creative work is still work and sometimes creative people have to deal with time constraints and deadlines just like anyone doing any kind of work. An established workflow makes it easier to complete tasks on schedule. An awareness of your workflow makes it easier to start projects and easier to finish them.

As the famous composer Sly Stone said, "It's your thing. Do what you wanna do."


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Collaborate With Hairy Larry

Delta Boogie Network - Let me state clearly This is Ambiguously - Permalink
Posted on Wednesday January 17, 2024

Collaborate with Hairy Larry. Play along and record.

Here's the script for this song.

Head - 2
Guest solo - 2
Piano solo - 4
Guest solo - 2
Turn this piano solo into a duet - 2
head - 2

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Hairy Larry Live at HairyLarryLand on 2024-01-04 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
Posted on Wednesday January 17, 2024

Collaborate On Crates With Hairy Larry
Turn this jazz trio into a quartet

Recorded Live at HairyLarryLand on 2024-01-04

In a nutshell

Play along while listening on headphones.
Record to phone or tablet in vertical mode (portrait not landscape).
Share your video with hairylarry@gmail.com.
I will add your video to the left side of this video and post the finished video.

Details

Your shot
---
Pick a good background in a well lit room.
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Collaborate On Crates With Hairy Larry - YouTube
Posted on Wednesday January 17, 2024

Collaborate On Crates With Hairy Larry
Turn this jazz trio into a quartet

Recorded Live at HairyLarryLand on 2024-01-04

In a nutshell

Play along while listening on headphones.
Record to phone or tablet in vertical mode (portrait not landscape).
Share your video with hairylarry@gmail.com.
I will add your video to the left side of this video and post the finished video.
Permalink


MixRemix - Collaborate on Malaysia - 2021-10-17 - Permalink
Posted on Tuesday January 16, 2024

Collaborate on "Malaysia" - 2021-10-17

I played this on my twitch livestream on October 17, 2021, with an arrangement designed for collaboration. Collaborators play over a piano trio with the bass and drums provided by an irealpro script with the chords for my original song, "Malaysia". The irealpro app can be viewed running on my tablet on the right side of the video screen.
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MixRemix - MixRemix - Permalink
Posted on Tuesday January 16, 2024

Collaborate with Hairy Larry

A new purpose for mixremix.cc.

A home for collaborations, collaboration scripts, and songs recommended for collaboration.

Do you want to collaborate with Hairy Larry?

Email - hairylarry@deltaboogie.com
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Click here for more songs arranged for collaboration.
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Links
HairyLarryLand
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Delta Boogie
Something Blue
Gamer+
Related To Geeks
SFF Short Stories
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Bebop Beatniks
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NJHB


Hairy Larry Rocks New Links

Natasha Jay :mastodon: 🇪🇺: "A cartoon of a woman standing …" - G+DBN
Posted on Thursday July 18, 2024

I warned you about that time machine, Carl.

cartoon
Permalink

Teryl's Tales of Whim~: "The plants bowed to the garden…" - G+DBN
Posted on Monday July 15, 2024

The plants bowed to the gardener, which was not the behavior he appreciated.

"Hsst, stop it! You, you're supposed to be a bunny, the rest of you, stand up straight!"

Leaves rustled and bark scraped as the plants obeyed, petals and roots undulated with anticipation.
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DJ Hairy Larry Presents The Rob Alley Trio Playing On A Clear Day | Something Blue
Posted on Sunday July 14, 2024

DJ Hairy Larry Presents The Rob Alley Trio Playing On A Clear Day
From The Archives Of Something Blue 2024-07-14

Thanks Marty, today we’re going to hear a jazz standard recorded at the Craighead Forest Bandshell in 2009.

When I met Rob Alley he was on the faculty in the ASU Music Department. I went to see him play trumpet at The Edge and he was nice enough to let me sit in on a couple of songs. So, when I was booking Sunday In The Park at The Bandshell I gave him a call and he agreed to come and play.

Playing with Rob Alley were David Eckert, bass; and Mike Overall, drums. David Eckert was a librarian at the Jonesboro Public Library and later on he taught bass at ASU. Mike Overall was president of the Jonesboro Jazz Society and Editor of the Jonesboro Sun. His column, Overall Comments, often highlighted the music scene in Jonesboro.
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Walk | Something Blue
Posted on Sunday July 14, 2024

Something Blue - Walk

Rhode Island Red and Hairy Larry Live at Bunkys Breakfast, Helena Arkansas on 2006-10-05
archive.org/details/hl2006-10-05.Live_At_Bunkys_Breakfast

Delta Legends Live at King Biscuit Blues Festival on 2019-10-11
archive.org/details/hl2019-10-11

Delta Legends Live at Cedell Davis Stage at the King Biscuit Blues Festival on 2018-10-05
archive.org/details/hl2018-10-05

Fool’s Ball 2009 – Hairy Larry and Uncle Dave videos
archive.org/details/fools_ball_2009

Struggle Buggy – Keep It Clean
strugglebuggy1.bandcamp.com/album/keep-it-clean
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DJ Hairy Larry Presents Rhode Island Red and Hairy Larry Singing Walk Right In | Something Blue
Posted on Monday July 08, 2024

DJ Hairy Larry Presents Rhode Island Red and Hairy Larry Singing Walk Right In
From The Archives Of Something Blue 2024-07-07

Thanks Marty, today we’re going to hear some jug band music recorded at the King Biscuit Blues Festival.

It was October 5, 2006 and The Emporium Orkestra was playing at Bunky’s Breakfast on Cherry Street in Helena, Arkansas. That morning Rhode Isalnd Red and I were the early risers so our first set was as a duo. One of the songs we sang was “Walk Right In”.

“Walk Right In” was written by Gus Cannon and recorded in 1929 by Cannons Jug Stompers. In 1963 The Rooftop Singers had a big hit on the song. Rhode Island Red plays it more like the original while I had only heard the sixties hit.

Although we were a duo we sounded like a seven piece orchestra singing harmony vocals, while I played bass and rhythm when Red took the lead. I played my Mississippi saxophone on a rack while Red played the trumpet parts on his kazoo. And it’s Jug Band Music so we both played the drums with our feet and with hand slaps on our guitars.

One morning Rhode Island Red walked in and he had written a song. It’s really short so I’m going to sing it for you now.

We’re Hairy Larry and Rhodes Island Red
And we’re gonna play until we’re dead.
Well we ain’t dead yet. No no. We ain’t dead yet.

Ok now, they may kick me off the air for having too much fun so here’s Rhode Island Red and Hairy Larry singing the Gus Cannon song “Walk Right In”.


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Hungry | Something Blue
Posted on Saturday July 06, 2024

This is Hairy Larry inviting you to enjoy Something Blue every Saturday night at ten. This week we’re featuring NJHB and Club d’Elf. For more about the show visit the Something Blue website at sbblues.com.

Don’t miss Something Blue, Saturday night at 10:00 PM CST, at kasu.org.

Club d’Elf Live at Colony on 2024-06-20
archive.org/details/delf2024-06-20.ca14.flac16

NJHB – Blue Goose
archive.org/details/Njhb-BlueGoose

NJHB – Quantum Blues
archive.org/details/hl2018-07-28
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HairyLarryLand Tumblr

Bebop Beatniks Live At Blues Fest Craighead Forest Bandshell Jonesboro, Arkansas September 24, 2023
Posted on Wednesday September 27, 2023

Bebop Beatniks
Live At Blues Fest
Craighead Forest Bandshell
Jonesboro, Arkansas
September 24, 2023

Songs

00:00 African Violet
11:24 Thanks Mr. Cloud …
12:14 The Blue Crane
21:20 The dance floor is open …
21:42 Low Earth Orbit
31:08 Honky Tonk Jazz …
31:54 Sail Boats
38:37 In the audience …
39:15 Freddy’s Blues
45:34 Silence …
45:19 Malaysia
55:53 Introducing the band …

All songs by Larry Heyl

Personnel

Tyler Remagen - sax and flute
Hairy Larry - piano and vocals
Jeremy Jackson - bass
Alex Washam - drums
Conley Hunt - percussion and vocals

bebopbeatniks.com
deltaboogie.net
hairylarryland.com
youtube.com/hairylarry

Bebop Beatniks Larry Heyl Composition Recital ASU Band Room September 10, 2023
Posted on Wednesday September 13, 2023

Bebop Beatniks
Larry Heyl Composition Recital
ASU Band Room
September 10, 2023

Songs

00:00 African Violet
14:30 The Blue Crane
23:30 introducing the band …
24:24 Low Earth Orbit
33:32 Sail Boats
42:22 Freddy’s Blues
52:35 Malaysia

All songs by Larry Heyl

Personnel

Rike Robinson - trombone and vocals
Tyler Remagen - sax and flute
Cody Daugherty - trumpet
Sophie Hacker - guitar and vocals
Craig Collison - drums
Jeremy Jackson - bass
Conley Hunt - percussion and vocals
Hairy Larry - piano and vocals

Livestreamed to Youtube from my Samsung Galaxy S10

bebopbeatniks.com
deltaboogie.net
youtube.com/hairylarry


Posted on Tuesday July 25, 2023

Bebop Beatniks At Beatles ParkWalnut Ridge, ArkansasMay 27,...
Posted on Wednesday May 31, 2023



Bebop Beatniks At Beatles Park
Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
May 27, 2023

Songs

00:00 We are Bebop Beatniks …
00:23 The Blue Crane
08:53 What a wonderful audience …
09:00 Candles
16:43 I’m going to rap …
17:04 African Violet
28:24 When Conley was a percussion student …
28:48 Low Earth Orbit
38:17 OK, here’s a swing song …
38:25 Sailboats
45:11 Crates is the companion piece to Candles …
45:20 Crates
53:36 One more song …
53:46 Malaysia

Personnel

Hairy Larry - piano, vocals
Alex Washam - drums
Conley Hunt - percussion
Rike Robinson - trombone

All songs by Larry Heyl
https://bebopbeatniks.com/
https://deltaboogie.net/
https://www.youtube.com/hairylarry/

Bebop Beatniks On The Twitch PorchApril 16, 2023Northeast...
Posted on Wednesday April 19, 2023



Bebop Beatniks On The Twitch Porch
April 16, 2023
Northeast Arkansas

Songs

00:00 The Blue Crane
08:45 Playing With Aries …
09:34 African Violet

Personnel

John Shepherd, guitar
Alex Washam, drums
Hairy Larry, piano and vocals

https://bebopbeatniks.com
https://hairylarryland.com

Bebop Beatniks On The Twitch Porch April 2, 2023 Songs 00:00...
Posted on Wednesday April 05, 2023



Bebop Beatniks On The Twitch Porch April 2, 2023 Songs 00:00 Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael, public domain 08:27 African Violet 17:05 Sail Boats 24:26 Malaysia 33:37 Low Earth Orbit 42:37 The Blue Crane


Something Blue

DJ Hairy Larry Presents The Rob Alley Trio Playing On A Clear Day
Posted on Sunday July 14, 2024

Rob Alley DJ Hairy Larry Presents The Rob Alley Trio Playing On A Clear Day From The Archives Of Something Blue 2024-07-14 Thanks Marty, today we’re going to hear a jazz standard recorded at the Craighead Forest Bandshell in 2009. … Continue reading

Walk
Posted on Friday July 12, 2024

Something Blue – Walk – July 13, 2024 Struggle Buggy – Keep It Clean Rhode Island Red and Hairy Larry Live at Bunkys Breakfast, Helena Arkansas on 2006-10-05 archive.org/details/hl2006-10-05.Live_At_Bunkys_Breakfast Delta Legends Live at King Biscuit Blues Festival on 2019-10-11 archive.org/details/hl2019-10-11 … Continue reading

DJ Hairy Larry Presents Rhode Island Red and Hairy Larry Singing Walk Right In
Posted on Monday July 08, 2024

Rhode Island Red And Hairy Larry DJ Hairy Larry Presents Rhode Island Red and Hairy Larry Singing Walk Right In From The Archives Of Something Blue 2024-07-07 Thanks Marty, today we’re going to hear some jug band music recorded at … Continue reading

Hungry
Posted on Friday July 05, 2024

Something Blue – Hungry – July 6, 2024 club d’Elf This is Hairy Larry inviting you to enjoy Something Blue every Saturday night at ten. This week we’re featuring NJHB and Club d’Elf. For more about the show visit the … Continue reading

DJ Hairy Larry Presents NJHB Playing Cold Fusion
Posted on Sunday June 30, 2024

NJHB – Quantum Blues DJ Hairy Larry Presents NJHB Playing Cold Fusion From The Archives Of Something Blue 2024-06-30 Thanks Marty, today we’re going to hear NJHB play a tribute to nuclear physics. NJHB, the New Jazz House Band, is … Continue reading

Ghost
Posted on Friday June 28, 2024

Something Blue – Ghost – June 29, 2024 Scott Law Band This is Hairy Larry inviting you to enjoy Something Blue every Saturday night at ten. This week we’re featuring Scott Law and Daniel Donato. For more about the show … Continue reading

DJ Hairy Larry Presents Billy Jones Bluez Singing I’m A Bluesman
Posted on Sunday June 23, 2024

Billy Jones DJ Hairy Larry Presents Billy Jones Bluez Singing I’m A Bluesman From The Archives Of Something Blue 2024-06-23 Thanks Marty. Today we’re going to hear an Arkansas bluesman sing a song he wrote about his life in music. … Continue reading

Sunna
Posted on Friday June 21, 2024

Something Blue – Sunna – June 22, 2024 Sunna Gunnlaugs – Songs From Iceland This is Hairy Larry inviting you to enjoy Something Blue every Saturday night at ten. This week we’re featuring Sunna Gunnlaugs, AxMei, Regis V. Gronoff, and … Continue reading

DJ Hairy Larry Presents Jazz Alliance Playing Blues In A Hurry
Posted on Sunday June 16, 2024

Partly Cloudy by Jazz Alliance DJ Hairy Larry Presents Jazz Alliance Playing Blues In A Hurry From The Archives Of Something Blue 2024-06-16 Thanks Marty, today we’re going to hear an extended trumpet solo recorded at Gracie’s Place right here … Continue reading

Wildflower
Posted on Friday June 14, 2024

Something Blue – Wildflower – June 15, 2024 Angie Owens – Break The Chain www.reverbnation.com/angiecampbellowens Hairy Larry Live at Bella’z Restaurant on 2011-08-25 archive.org/details/hl2011-08-25 John Spencer – Road to Brigadoon – All songs by John Spencer and Tom Turner archive.org/details/road_to_brigadoon … Continue reading


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