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.

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Commentary
8:35 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Musical Space: Reading Music

Credit Marcin Wichary / flickr

For a thousand years, there has been a division between musicians who could read music and those who played by ear. Both skills are essential, and so the music industry has become a strange world in which the literate and illiterate coexist.

Music reading is useful because it is so efficient. When the music is written down, composers don’t have to take the time teach their music to the musicians, and musicians don’t have to rely on memory to play their parts.

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Commentary
11:35 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Musical Space: Suspension (repeat)

One way musicians create tension in a melody or chord progression is through use of a suspension.

Here’s a little music theory for you: the suspension. A suspension is a note that clashes with the harmony and needs to move to another note to resolve the tension. For instance, the fourth note above the root of a chord is dissonant, and likes to move to the third note, which is consonant. Here’s a 4-3 suspension on a piano; the tension in this C chord is resolved when the dissonant F moves to the consonant E:

Example 1: 4 3 suspension.piano

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Commentary
11:38 am
Tue October 2, 2012

Musical Space: BPM

The metronome was invented by a friend of Beethoven’s, Johann Maelzel, in 1815.

Whether Beethoven or beat boxers, musicians have come to rely on one tool to help them keep time.

The metronome was invented by a friend of Beethoven’s, Johann Maelzel, in 1815. It is used in music to set a tempo, measured in Beats Per Minute, and traditionally has a range of 40 - 208 BPM, roughly the extremes of the human heart-rate. BPM correlates to the human body in other ways, too.

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Commentary
9:28 am
Tue September 18, 2012

Musical Space: Math Rock

Cover of King Crimson's <>Larks Tongues In Aspic

Mark Foley explores the relationship between math, meter, and music.

Music is almost always arranged in a repeating pattern of beats; the pattern, or “meter,” usually corresponds with a rhythm that is easy to dance to, so the meter of a song is usually a simple group of 2, 3, or 4 beats. There is, however, a history of composers making things more complicated. “Money,” from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, has a strange, lop-sided groove because it is in an undanceable seven-beat meter.

Example 1: “Money”

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Commentary
11:30 am
Tue September 4, 2012

Musical Space: Suspension

One way musicians create tension in a melody or chord progression is through use of a suspension.

Here’s a little music theory for you: the suspension. A suspension is a note that clashes with the harmony and needs to move to another note to resolve the tension. For instance, the fourth note above the root of a chord is dissonant, and likes to move to the third note, which is consonant. Here’s a 4-3 suspension on a piano; the tension in this C chord is resolved when the dissonant F moves to the consonant E:

Example 1: 4 3 suspension.piano

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Commentary
9:32 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Musical Space: Jingles

There’s been a noticeable trend away from using jingles in TV commercials. This really doesn’t bother me too much; jingles are designed to lodge themselves into your brain, and an effective one can have the same effect as a toothache. I’m interested, though, in how jingles have been replaced.

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Commentary
8:32 am
Tue August 7, 2012

Musical Space: Cartoons

Carl Stalling was the composer who scored the music for Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes cartoons.

Composer Carl Stalling created some of the most recognizable musical scores of the last century, the sounds that fueled many Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons.


[Music: Carl Stalling: “Coyote and Road Runner”]

You may not know Carl Stalling’s name but you do know his work.  He was the composer who scored the music for Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes cartoons, the music that was the perfect accompaniment to sugar-cereal-fueled Saturday mornings, the music we associate with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, and their various escapades.

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Commentary
7:21 am
Tue July 24, 2012

Musical Space: Life Aquatic (Repeat)

Some film scores are best when they take the familiar and make it unfamiliar, as Mark Foley notes this week on Musical Space.

Let’s talk about the score to the 2004 Wes Anderson-directed film The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. The film and its score are remarkable for their refreshing perspectives on the familiar.

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Commentary
9:22 am
Tue July 10, 2012

Musical Space: Minimalist Music

Steve Reich
Courtesy Photo

Minimalism was the last great revolution to happen in the world of art music. Young American composers began experimenting with using limited materials and processes in the 1960s, and the result was music that relied on repetition and very slow change over time.

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Commentary
8:00 am
Tue June 26, 2012

Musical Space: Electric Guitar

A shiny electric guitar / DaveOnFlickr

Mark Foley looks at the history of the electric guitar.


Two thousand and twelve marks the 80th anniversary of the invention of the Electric Guitar, an event more important than the first moon landing or the isolation and identification of DNA. The very first electric guitar debuted in Wichita in 1932. Local musician Gage Brewer had vacationed in Los Angeles that summer and a friend happened to work for the Rickenbacker Company.

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