Basscraft: Super Mario and Irish Folk Collide

Xavier Foley performs a selection from “Irish Fantasy.” 

The concert music of old was composed in a very different time, long before telephones, televisions, and computers. The current crop of emerging classical musicians has grown up in a rapidly changing, interconnected world, which has led to some novel takes on an old art form.

2014 Sphinx Competition winner and Astral Artist Xavier Foley composes music that is informed by both his deep knowledge of classical music history and…video games?

“Irish Fantasy” is a solo bass arrangement of “The Clergy’s Lamentation”—a Renaissance Era folk song, usually attributed to harpist Turlough O’Carolan (or, if that’s not Irish enough for you, Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin). Foley first encountered the song in the soundtrack to the 2005 PC game, Fate. The music stuck with him, and he was eventually moved to make it his own. His twist? That, too, came from the world of gaming.

Foley’s piece concludes with a dark series of open 5th chords, reminiscent of the music that plays during the final battle in Bowser’s castle from Nintendo’s iconic Super Mario Brothers game.  “The goal was to see if I could combine these two ideas together,” he says.

“I think it worked.”