Mike Schilling

Mike has been a software engineer far longer than he would like to admit. He has strong opinions on baseball, software, science fiction, comedy, contract bridge, and European history, any of which he's willing to share with almost no prompting whatsoever.

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10 Responses

  1. Snarky McSnarkSnark says:

    That is just a beautiful piece. I just know I’ve heard it before, but now I know the name and composer, I can go buy it.


  2. Saul DeGraw says:

    Very nice.Report

  3. Glyph says:

    So I have a question on the whole ‘many-hits/one-hit/no-hits’ spectrum, that may or may not feed into the discussions of canons and objective/subjective value in art.

    I am very prone, when people tell me that artist X should have been huge, to suspect that there’s a good reason they weren’t. We have a general expectation that quality will usually win out, and even if an artist died penniless and unknown, that the strength of their work will eventually result in fame, even if far too late for our poor posthumous artist to personally enjoy the fruits of his labor.

    And I use this metric all the time (“if they were any good, I’d’a heard of ’em already!”), EVEN THOUGH I ALSO know full well that it’s often just luck of the draw, and the good guys don’t always win, and the bad guys don’t always lose.

    In fact I have a whole “shadow canon” of my own, consisting of all my “coulda/woulda/shoulda” guys; the ones who were just too visionary, or beset by inexplicable random bad luck, or unjustly overshadowed by some contemporary to achieve the recognition they rightfully should have. This canon, in some instances, is more “real” and important than any “official” one.

    The art fan always has his own “secret” faves, and we love these all the more; in part BECAUSE they are obscure.

    So…why do I believe these two totally-opposed things simultaneously?Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

      Things are different in classical music, because the timelines are so much longer. There are composers, even whole eras, that have been up and down and up and down and up again. Bach, whom I consider a singular genius (and I’m hardly alone in that), was forgotten for almost a hundred years except as his sons’ father, until Mendelssohn resumed public performances of his work. Even after that, for another hundred years the whole Baroque period was widely considered to be Bach, Handel, and a bunch of hacks. It wasn’t until after WWII that early (pre-Mozart and Haydn) music became popular again. Before that, the notion that Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Pachelbel’s canon would be ubiquitous [1] would have seemed ridiculous, like saying that Thackery or Smollett would become best-sellers again.

      So I have to think that all of this is contingent, like the fact that people are rediscovering Badfinger now because Vince Gilligan used Baby Blue at the very end of Breaking Bad. Or the fact that Harry Potter didn’t lead to a revival of interest in British School stories, so Wodehouse’s early novels remain obscure, even though they’re pretty awesome. [2]

      1. You’ve all heard them many times, whether you knew that’s what you were hearing or not.

      2. I cannot recommend Mike and Psmith highly enough. (The link is to Gutenberg, where you can read or download it absolutely free.) It’s where he introduces Psmith, who is one of his best characters, and it’s completely hilarious, and it’s a good story on top of that. It’s technically the second half of a novel, but the novel was cobbled together from two magazine serials, and this is the entire second one. If you’d rather read all of Mike, feel free.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Well, I know the timelines are longer, due not just to the age of the works/composers, but the accelerating speed of information/cultural transmission. And I know things come in and out of vogue.

        More just commenting on the paradoxical fact that “obscurity” is often for me an indicator of “probably-crap” (“of course Crabs is not as good as Jaws, duh – otherwise, we’d sing the theme to Crabs when we go to the beach!” – IOW, I assume Crabs is deservedly obscure BECAUSE it’s bad – if it didn’t rise to the top, it probably ain’t cream); while on the other hand, we thrive on the unexpected “discovery” (or rediscovery) – “holy cow, this obscure monk invented punk rock in 1565, but was burned at the stake for it being, in the words of the Pope, ‘unlistenable crap, and possibly witchcraft’!” . That is, we don’t automatically assume that the reason the monk was obscure for so long, was because it WAS unlistenable crap.Report

      • Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        16th century punk: Music has gotten too long and complicated, so we don’t make any songs longer than 90 minutes, and we don’t even know how to play our haprsichords.

        It just sounds like a bad imitation of medieval music to me.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        He smashed his lute, then set it on fire! It was awesome!Report

  4. Ken S says:

    When Paganini wrote his magnificent violin concertos, there was only one violinist who could play them — Paganini. Today it is expected of any concert violinist. (I recently heard a 13-year-old in a local competition play one of them, and not badly at all.)
    My point is this — I wonder if one reason once-forgotten pieces are reclaimed is that modern classical performers are so breathtakingly accomplished that they can make almost anything sound beautiful. I realize that the Paganini example concerns virtuosity rather than musicality, but the former is a prerequisite for the latter.Report