The Craft

Storytelling Tools

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A great guitar can feel uniquely personal, just like the songs and stories they help us share.

I love stories. I love to hear a narrative of triumph or tragedy, of introspection or a call to action. For me, stories serve as the communication by which people of our age are connected to each other, but also to people of past and future generations.

As wonderful as spoken and written stories are, in the form of a song, these stories take on a meaning far beyond the words sung, if words need to be used at all. These songs — these musical stories — are a driving reason behind the guitars we build. When I consider the innumerable variety and emotion conveyed each time a player sets their hands to the strings, the breadth of that expression seems to transcend boundaries. Each player, each story, is so unique.

As a response to the variety of songs that are played, it feels that there needs to be a wide variety of instruments with unique voices. Each guitar we make has a reason to exist, as the many emotions of music are best presented with sounds that support the song. The attributes of different guitars may seem similar at a glance, and to be totally fair, the distinctions between instruments can be subtle at times. True as that may be, there is a parallel in the subjects of the stories we tell, such as those recounting a tale of love lost or found. There is a theme universal enough to be familiar to all, yet so deeply personal and individual as to be a defining moment in a person’s life. Instruments are a little like that. They can appear similar in some respects, but when experienced directly, we realize each is a unique individual.

Guitars can appear similar in some respects, but when experienced directly, we realize each is a unique individual.

Recently, I was reading through a book written by Iain McGilchrist called The Master and His Emissary, in which he studies the twin-hemisphere nature of the human mind and the influence of this structure on our experience. While describing how the mind tends to categorize inanimate objects, he points out that two categories, food and musical instruments, are interestingly grouped among living things. This detail struck me as interesting because it spoke to the highly personal and intimate relationship musicians have with their instruments as well as the continuously evolving nature of that relationship. The stories we tell through our songs are part of a much longer epic that continues to unfold. In some way, it is as if a story told through a song is a communication that remains alive and growing.

These guitars we make are brought into being to help musicians tell their stories. The many and varied personal connections are told in counterpoint to the impersonal headlines we face each day. I’m hardly alone in hearing headlines shouting for my attention nearly every direction I turn, most of them wanting to deliver information about a problem somewhere. Against this backdrop of impersonal communication, a musician’s deeply personal narrative feels like nothing less than a bold act of courage.

I’m reminded of a short piece penned by Longfellow titled “The Arrow and the Song”:

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

Among other themes, this poem speaks to the fact that we don’t always know where, how or whom our stories will impact. Yet in the face of this uncertainty, musicians can take a courageous step and share their songs with those who might listen and continue to grow with their music and instruments.

For this reason, among others, we at Taylor Guitars feel very fortunate to be building the instruments presented in our latest collection and showcased in our product guide. There are guitars of many different influences, woods, sounds and feels in order to meet a musician where their songs take them. Some instruments are built with humble materials and modest appointments. Others are built with more lavish trimmings to delight the holder. Whatever place you find yourself in, wherever your music takes you, we hope to be an encouragement for you to play, share your songs, and tell your stories.