We musicians have a special relationship with our instruments. We fall in love with them, often name them and sometimes refer to them with either male or female pronouns. When I got my very first guitar, a little $14 6-string that my dad brought home to me as a surprise for my 14th birthday, I took it everywhere I went, even to bed at night, where I gently placed it on the other pillow.
It was my first 12-string, however, that I fell head-over-heels for in 1968. I’d been wanting one for over a year and I finally found one at Disco, a forerunner to today’s Walmart or Kmart. After I saw it I knew I had to have it so I saved the $42 it cost from money I made working in a local music shop after school. JP Deni’s Mom drove us there, and I came home proudly hugging “John Dylan Bumagy” (pronounced boo-MAH-gy… long story). That guitar took me to San Francisco, Hollywood, Laurel Canyon, and across country on tour. I played it in concerts and on television, in schools and prisons, weddings and funerals, nursing homes, coffeehouses, and a whole lot of parties and jam sessions.
It wasn’t until 1973 that I got a really nice 12-string, a Takamine. Unfortunately, that was stolen in 1978 when my house was burgled, and John Dylan Bumagy ended up getting auctioned off (along with all my other instruments which included a Martin 12-string, a Story & Clark piano, a clarinet, a 5-string banjo, some penny whistles, Indian flutes, and recorders, an Irish bodhran, and a bowed psaltry in The Big Dump of 2001. My heart breaks when I think about it, so I just don’t. Moving on…
So you see, I have a certain idea of a musical instrument being a kind of sacred space, where the music grows and swells and then bursts through the sound hole to fill small rooms and concert halls alike. Recently, I found some photos that just amazed me. They were taken by Bjoern Ewers for the 2009 season of the Chamber Orchestra of the Berlin Philharmonic. Fantastic views of the inside of musical instruments that make them appear to be sacred spaces—cathedrals—dedicated to the one truth that is Music.
“So next time you are holding your guitar
(or any instrument) in your arms,
close your eyes and think about the space inside.
Imagine yourself there.
What an amazing sanctuary to contemplate
the music uniquely yours to express,
the songs uniquely yours to sing!”
Yvonne de Villiers, designer and founder of Luna Guitars
Edited and reposted from my old blog, The Incurable Insomniac.