I was a bit reticent to post this because it's not a through-composed piece; it's just a somewhat short solo bass guitar improv on an Irish traditional tune. But if the premise is acceptable that improvisation equals "instant composition", then perhaps you will indulge me. Warts and all.  

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/frank-paul-918241242/she-moved-through-my-pint-solo-bass-improv-on-irish-traditional

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  • An attractive laid- back exploration of one of the most mystical sounding traditional airs.  It's always interesting to hear a new interpretation of something familiar.  The title reminds me of an old country and western song, "She's Lookin' Better Every Beer."

    The classic traditional version of She Moves Through the Fair is Belle Stewart's.  One of those goose-bump producing pieces of music.

    • Thanks for that, Jon!  I wonder if the original author of this tune, whoever that may be (because it's apparently disputed), could've ever imagined the legacy he ended up bequeathing. I'm sure you know this, but I was surprised to learn that this song has been recorded a gazillion times, not just by Irish artists one might expect (Sinead O'Connor, Vam Morrison, The Chieftains, etc.) but also by others one might not expect (Nana Mouskouri, Art Garfunkel, Donovan, Wayner Shorter and others). I like the version you posted - thanks for sharing!

      • That whole album, Songs of the Travelling People, is in my opinion one of the greatest of all folk music albums.

  • Many of my early compositions began life as improvisations. In fact, my early compositional process is refinement through repeated improvisation, i.e., I would improvise something at the piano, and when I chance upon something I liked, I would play through it repeatedly, refining it a little more each time, until it settles into something nice. My later process retains elements of this model: as I compose I'd listen to the growing fragment repeatedly, refining or rewriting parts of it until I'm happy with it.

    Anyway, gave your little improv a listen.  Sounds very relaxing; something one might play while chilling in the basement late at night after crashing on the couch, when everything is calm and quiet.  Thanks for sharing!

    • I have a similar approach to composing.  My method is to fool around with the notes until they sound right.

      • That's an interesting and valuable perspective - that we can use improvisation as a means to come up with new compositional material.  For me, I think I often get a little stymied by thinking maybe a bit too much about theory and process when trying to write something. Another avenue I've been wondering about is trying to develop more of a sense of musical imagination - trying to hear it in the mind's ear before writing it.

        • In my early pieces I tried very hard to follow the theory. Tried to plan my pieces so they had the "correct" form and so forth. Unfortunately, it almost never worked out, and the rare cases that did, produced "flat" results: theoretically correct, but artistically sterile.  Those rare pieces that turned out well were those that I chanced upon while improvising and wrote down in a short time.  Eventually I came to the conclusion that the theory was merely a description of the masters' work, not a prescription of how you should work. Theory can serve as a useful tool when you're stuck or to analyse what you've done in order to mine your own work for more avenues of further development; but when the music contradicts the theory, I say pick the music and trash the theory. Let future theorists invent new theories to describe your work. ;-)

          • That's a really interesting perspective - thanks for sharing that!  In the relatively brief time that I've been composing and arranging (<3 years) I feel that studying theory - most specifically Functional Harmony - has unlocked a lot of doors for me. Now, I feel like I can read a chart of just about anything (tonal at least) and be able to understand why the composer or songwriter chose a specific chord in a specific place, and how and why that chord progressed to the next. Before studying that topic, harmony felt like a bit of a mystical black art to me. So I definitely don't want to "undo" all that learning, but at the same time I've been coming to the realization more and more that one's ear has to be the ultimate guide. And I think you're saying that too, and that makes sense to me.  I suspect that the masters spent a lot of time becoming aware of the traditions and the forms, and then reached a point in their own composition work where a higher level synthesis of all that they knew plus - most of all - their creative powers, guided by their own ears, led them in new directions. Without a "how to" book to guide them.  Maybe Clark Terry was right after all: "Imitate-Assimilate-Innovate".

            • Whatever theory you've learned can become a useful tool in your own work; that's definitely true and I'm not saying to trash that. When I was young a friend introduced me to Beethoven's symphonies, and I used to spend hours at the piano trying to figure out what chords he used (esp. in the 6th symphony). That formed a strong basis for my present harmonic language and is a resource I often draw from. However, I can't recall the last time I consciously wrote an exact chord progression used by Beethoven; at least for me, it's the exercise of trying to figure it out that has taught me harmony. Now I've internalized it and it just "comes out" when I'm composing, even when I'm not consciously trying to imitate Beethoven.

              Maybe Clark Terry was right after all: "Imitate-Assimilate-Innovate".

               Funny, I know that quote from certain people who use it (tongue-in-cheek) in the context of Microsoft's competitive practices. :-D

              • "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is."

                -- Yogi Berra

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