Musical Space

Musical Space is a look at all things music, by KMUW Music Commentator Mark Foley. Mark is Principal Double Bass of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and Professor of Double Bass and head of Jazz Studies at Wichita State University.

He has been a featured soloist with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, performs extensively as a jazz artist is also an avid bluegrass player. Passionate about promoting new and diverse music, Mark is the founder and music director of the Knob Festival of New Music, a series of concerts held in Fisch Haus Studios every Fall.

The Musical Space commentary airs on KMUW on alternate Tuesdays. You can subscribe to the Musical Space podcast on Apple Podcasts or Google Play

Fall has just begun, so this is a good time to talk about a certain song - a pop tune from a forgotten French movie that became one of the most-played jazz songs. The many recordings of the 1945 song “Autumn Leaves” show how obscure tunes can become jazz standards.

(Music: YVES MONTAND - Les Feuilles Mortes 2001: Inédits, rares & indispensables (Mercury, 4-CD boxset) (first release 1950)

Any work of art is basically an arrangement of elements that are part of our culture - the sounds of our shared memories are the building blocks of music. These don’t even have to come from musical instruments - the sounds of everyday life, like that of opening a can or starting a car, are just as much a part of our sonic heritage. Sounds enter and exit our collective consciousness over time; it might be good to start thinking about preserving our sonic diversity.

September is Public Library Sign-Up Month. Seeing as how I hadn’t yet visited the brand-new Advanced Learning Library, I knew exactly what I had to do. Here’s my review of the place from a musical perspective.

The term “open source” was coined 20 years ago this month by some software engineers who had the radical idea of allowing their code to be freely shared, copied and modified by anyone else. They realized they could make more money by giving away their product instead of selling it, and selling the support services instead. The open source model is a growing part of the arts, and nowhere more than in music. Recordings make so little money that creators now offer them for free and make their money from live shows instead.

We need to talk about net neutrality. It’s a simple idea: Everything gets sent to your web browser at the same speed without middlemen, gatekeepers, or censors. This would be a perfect situation for musicians with all of the swirling currents of music subgenres available to listeners, and the best bubbling to the top in a democratic and Darwinian process.

I try not to live in the past, but when an album of music by John Coltrane is discovered and released decades after it was recorded, I’m justified in getting a little maudlin.

[Music: John Coltrane, “Untitled Original 11383,” Both Directions at Once: the Lost Album (2018)]

Every once in a while there’s good live music on TV. The best shows are by smaller nonprofits: my favorite, Austin City Limits is on PBS, the BBC has Later… With Jools Holland, and of course NPR has video streams of Live From Here and Tiny Desk Concerts. But these are small, specialty programs aimed at the cognoscenti.

Beth Golay / KMUW

Binging seems to be the business model for television and publishing now. TV show marketing makes us gladly lose sleep to get to a season finale, and books now seem to only come in trilogies. This appeal to the obsessive completist gets me thinking about binge-listening.

Summer is a great time to get through some of your bucket-list records. The complete symphonies of Gustav Mahler or the 111 recordings of Frank Zappa might be a bit heavy for the season, but we can still get to September being able to say we got to the end of an epic list.

Good and bad things have happened to music with the invention of headphones more than a hundred years ago. 

Musical Space: Caesura

May 22, 2018

(Music: Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”,