Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I know where the bodies are buried

Over on the eMusic boards the other day, baroque fan Kez said "Nereffid, in particular, I consider to be a sort of 'expert' here when it comes to classical music", to which I replied "I am not an expert. But I have a good idea where the bodies are buried."
What I meant by this was that there's a difference between knowledge and wisdom. I've never set myself up as an expert in the way I understand it - the sort who could, say, distinguish Celibidache's Bruckner from Giulini's in the space of five bars, or who can make a statement about who is the best Tosca and have the chops to back it up. My own understanding doesn't run that deep, and as far as I'm aware I've never claimed anything of the sort. But occasionally someone will come along and call me an expert and I wonder whether I've been misleading them.
It's something I noticed years ago, when the ability to read the user manual for Microsoft Access made me somehow god-like in the eyes of superiors who didn't know better. The trick, I realised, is not necessarily to know more than anyone else, but to know where you can find the knowledge you need, and deploy that knowledge as required.
And so with music. There wasn't anything I did on the old Nereffid's Guide that couldn't have been done as well or better by someone with an equal amount of time on their hands. Whenever people asked - they still do, though not as often - on eMusic for the best, say, Mozart clarinet concerto, I've always been tempted to reply "Look online. There's like a half-dozen places a Google search away that will give you expert opinions that will allow you to make your own decision". But instead I do the leg-work and come up with a couple of suggestions. Do it enough times, and you get called an expert.
Hopefully this blog will by now have disabused everyone of that notion.


Arnold said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Nereffid said...

I'll be honest with you, Arnold; I don't know what to say either.

Anonymous said...