The aesthetics of musical instruments.

I contend that one of the most beautiful things in this world is a musical instrument.  Not many things created by humans can be so naturally beautiful, and also have so much latent possibilities within it.  Never has an object at rest had more potential energy.  From time to time I look at my bass guitars in the corner of my room and I get this feeling in my chest, like the first time you interacted with your significant other.  The sense of hope, excitement, happiness, and love, actual love, wells up inside of me; just from looking at them.  On my dresser, mixed within pictures of my family and friends, is a picture of my 5-string bass guitar that I took with an old black and white camera.  It is the same bass that I have tattooed on my right arm as an integral part of a half sleeve.  That bass is something special to me, even beyond how beautiful and elegant (and bad ass) it is.  That is the bass that I feel as though I became a bassist on, not just someone screwing around with the idea or learning other people’s songs, but being able to create music along with other musicians, regardless of how good it may sound to anyone.

It honestly goes beyond just bass guitar for me though.  If I could have it my way I would have one of every instrument around, not that I would know what to do with most of them in any musical sense, but just to look at.  To hang on my wall and fill up the room with that potential energy they carry inside of them because, for me, music is the supreme form of expression, and musical instruments are the supreme form of physical art.  They are by far the most aesthetically pleasing inanimate objects in life, at least through my eyes.

Here are a few pictures of my bass guitars.  I highly doubt you see them in the endearing way that I do, but look close and you might fall in love.

– MCG

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4 responses to “The aesthetics of musical instruments.

  1. I share your kind of visceral attraction for musical instruments.
    But I think I could take it a step farther.
    Looking at particular instruments, that attraction might speak to the personality of the player.
    The guitar: Arguably the most popular instrument in the world. And the shape is particularly feminine. The curving lines, the long neck, the fact that you have to wrap your arms around it to play. Can that be completely by chance?
    Plus, only a small minority of players of well-known guitarist are either female or gay.
    The more I think about this, the more it piques my interest. I’m thinking of the people I’ve known who play the saxophone… the piano…

    • That’s funny because I’ve always seen the (electric) guitar as being very male.

      I don’t think the low slung positioning of the electric guitar among many young men (so that the neck emerges from the crotch area) is an accident – even if it isn’t always entirely conscious.

      Here’s a random example to illustrate found on youtube.

      The more ‘image conscious’ a band is the lower the guitar tends to be.

      By contrast a more ‘muso’ band (or classical/ jazz player) is more likely to have a higher slung guitar with the neck not protruding from the crotch.

      Cello….. now there’s a feminine instrument!

      • Yea, I see your point. I remember seeing a photograph of Jimi Hendrix that would add a lot of fuel to your argument.
        The acoustic and electric guitars certainly seem to draw distinctly different personalities. I’m thinking of guitar magazine covers where the player was copping some aggressive pose. You’ve seen them; a wild, angry expression, sometimes acting as though they’re chewing on the instrument. I don’t remember that they were ever holding an acoustic.
        The point you make about the length of the strap strikes a nerve with me, too. The better players have the instrument up high because that’s simply the best position to play from. The other guys are often sliding around drop D power chords with one finger.
        I don’t know what to think about the cello comment. I know that, sometimes, my mind wanders while I watch a female cellist.
        I invite you to check out my blog: jimwestlyn.wordpress.com.

  2. Jim,

    Thank you very much for reading and taking the time to comment. I have never thought about it that way but it is certainly one way to look at it. I suppose that could be part of it for me subconsciously, I certainly have an appreciation for wrapping my arms around feminine curves as well. For me I believe it is a deep affection for all of the potential an instrument has; the energy waiting to be released, and the possibilities are endless, varying across a wide spectrum depending on my mood and state of mind. It is a priceless interaction.

    – MCG.

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