The Anatomy of a Guitar – Body, Mind & Soul

I have always been obsessed with guitars for as far as I can remember. My guitars always feel like a part of my body when I play them. They are an extension of myself, like an extra limb.

The connection I have when I play my guitar is both physical and spiritual. My tone is created from the subtle differences in the movement of a finger to the pressure at which I strike the string and it originates from a place beyond the human body.  I started thinking about the anatomy of my guitar and found the only way I could express it is visually in an artwork.

I started by sanding down the plastic veneer from the body of my Yamaha APX 700 electro-acoustic guitar and painted an abstract representation of the body, mind and soul connection when I play my guitar.

The Body

My initial vision was to create a half human, half guitar image somehow showing layers of skin, bone and muscle which had been dissected and peeled back (reminiscent of what I would see in anatomy demonstrations in medical school). However, I quickly realised my technical ability was not that advanced!  I have always found an effortless beauty in the appearance of muscle. The gradients of red with wonderfully arranged muscle fibres neatly overlapping and interlacing, poised for the moment they a called to action to create a physical movement.  The muscle of the design shows that physical human connection I have with my music.

The Mind

This is the interface between inspiration and action. The nervous connection that transmits the electrical energy through the body and transfers it to a string.  This is the thought process, the education, the learning, the intellect and the hours of practicing chords and scales.

I have included an ancient sanskrit verse from the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, verse 47:

“कर्मणये वाधिकारस्ते मां फलेषु कदाचन । मां कर्मफलहेतुर्भू: मांते संङगोस्त्वकर्मणि” ।।

“karmany evadhikaras te
ma phalesu kadachana
ma karma-phala-hetur bhur
ma te sango ’stv akarmani”

“Sri Krishna said to Arjuna: You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.” (source: http://www.gitablog.com)

The Soul

This is where the magic comes from. The moments that seem so different and individual but fit together effortlessly. It is the pain, the sadness and the heartache intertwined with true love, compassion and beauty.  It is the invisible. It is the formless. It cannot be one shape or one colour. It is where the flow originates. If music is a tree, it is the seed.

I have tried to paint this using different shapes which I had quickly drawn in within a moment of flow without too much thought or analysis. The colours were filled in using my intuition.  I just trusted myself to know which colour would fit a particular shape.

After I painted my guitar, it sounded different. It was filled with life. I felt like I was holding a new baby in my arms. It had new movements and new sounds that the world had never heard. Maybe its just all in my head and maybe I have been watching too many Marvel films but it felt like this combination of wood, metal and strings had transcended reality and developed it’s own mind and personality.  I could hear it laugh. I could hear it cry.  I could have a different conversation with it.

Stay tuned for some new music featuring this guitar so you can hear what it sounds like!

Has anyone else out there made art based on music or have you painted your instruments? I would love to see that and hear your story!

 

 

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