Dear Dr. Boli: I was wondering what your view of the musical profession was. Do you like the French horn better than the Dutch bagpipe-snozzlegasp, or do you prefer the piano-forte? —I remain yours sincerely, Scarlett O’Hara.

Dear Madam: The problem with brass instruments, Dr. Boli has always believed, is that it is simply impossible to blow a sustained raspberry into a tube while maintaining one’s customary dignitary. Dr. Boli has therefore always preferred instruments with strings. He still treasures an English guitar passed down to him by his father, who obtained it from a Mr. John Preston; and he has derived much pleasure  from an Appalachian dulcimer given to him by a gentleman who identified himself only as Clem.

Nevertheless, of the stringed instruments, the ones with keyboards have given Dr. Boli the greatest satisfaction. The most popular of those today is, as you mention, the pianoforte; but Dr. Boli has observed that the pianoforte is played more often forte than piano. Dr. Boli’s beloved Heyser is capable of great volume, and there is always a strong temptation to pound on it in a manner that frightens the servants. For the purer and more refined sort of music, therefore, Dr. Boli prefers his clavichord, which the servants can barely hear at all.

Dr. Boli cannot recall ever having heard of this Dutch bagpipe-snozzlegasp you mention. He wonders whether you have confused it with Flemish bag-nozzlegrasp, which is not a musical instrument but a rather rambunctious outdoor game for five players, a canvas sack, and a garden hose.


  1. Dear Dr. Boli,

    Is there anything that you don’t know? Please explain.


    Bewildered in Beechview

  2. Jared says:

    One hopes that the eminent Dr. Boli will enhance the utility of his answer by also seeking, in all instances of things he does not know, to address the following sub-queries:

    1. How long have you not known X?
    2. Where did you fail to learn X?
    3. Do you know that you do not know X, or is this gap in your knowledge itself an unknown, and is this regression of ignorance finite or infinite?
    4. If you do not know that you do not know X, do you believe you would know if what you don’t know (i.e., X) were, in fact, to hurt you?
    5. Did you employ any specific methods in effecting your lack of knowledge of X?

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