Mark Foley

Music commentator

Mark Foley is Assistant Professor of Double Bass and Electric Bass, and Principal Double Bass in the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.

He has been a featured soloist with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. He also has performed with the Rochester Philharmonic, the Heidelberg Castle Opera Festival, the Binghamton Symphony, the Minnesota Opera and also performs extensively as a jazz artist.

Ways to Connect

A new vinyl release of groundbreaking tape recorder experiments by literary pioneer and Kansas resident William S. Burroughs got me thinking about how words and music have always been interdependent. A musician who write songs necessarily becomes a poet. It’s interesting to me, though, that the direction can go the other way, when poets and authors undertake musical projects. 

The musical score for a four-movement symphony can be well over a hundred pages long. It’s interesting, though, to see how much great music is written on just a page or so.

Country, folk, and rock tunes, pretty much anything that’s made the pop charts since World War II, can be expressed as a few lines of text with chord symbols written above.

Singer David Johansen did all sorts of anti-establishment things on stage when he was fronting the New York Dolls in the early ‘70s, gaining notoriety and inventing punk rock in the process. I was amazed when, only a few years later, Johansen fully immersed himself in the superficial ethos he was rebelling against, appearing as lounge-lizardy Buster Poindexter, sporting a tuxedo and mile-high pompadour while crooning old standards.

In this Musical Space podcast, music commentator Mark Foley and KMUW's Fletcher Powell discuss songs and artists in varying states of DIY. 

Guitar Aficianado

 

    

All this talk about the one percent got me thinking about Paul Allen, who’s day-gig as co-founder of Microsoft seems to have gone pretty well for him. So,what kind of slant on music would a person have if they were Bill Gate’s business partner?

 

Today I want to celebrate that most American of inventions: the blue note. We all know the blue note is important. There's a record label and a jazz club named after it. It's the logo of the St. Louis Blues hockey team. So what's a blue note anyway? It's the note that defines American music of the 20th century. It's a certain sourness, a clash; a note no European composer would dare use. I have a theory that blue notes come from the harmonica.

I’m worried. According to Nielsen data for 2015, album sales of older music have now outpaced those of new releases. I checked it out; albums made in the 1970s by Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC, Pink Floyd and others made last year’s Billboard top 200 album chart. So, why are millennials buying their grandparents’ music?

I won’t accept this as proof that older music is better. Good music is always being made. And the data aren’t just because of nostalgia; most of these buyers weren’t alive in the ‘70s.

The music business is as sexist as any industry could be. The wage discrimination gap is real, and I don’t need to cite any examples of how horribly women musicians are marketed - just look at any music magazine. For some reason, though, the world of the bass guitar player seems to be a little more egalitarian.

In terms of historical accuracy, movies about musicians almost always get it wrong. Not to say there are no good music films. But music and movies are two different animals, and filmmakers change facts for the sake of the story. Miles Ahead, Don Cheadle’s new film about Miles Davis, is a case in point: unauthentic, but still good.

Music festival season is already underway. SXSW 2016 has already happened, and by June we’ll be in full swing. 

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