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Unlocking Intuition: Crafting Expressive Acoustic Guitar Music

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

by Shambhu

Unleash your inner muse and dive deep into the purest form of musical expression. Learn the art of crafting soul-stirring acoustic melodies that will transport your listeners to another dimension. Unlock your intuition and become a master of the guitar's true essence.

Acoustic guitar music is a beautiful genre that can evoke emotion and express creativity. Today there are hundreds of mood channels on Spotify, SiriusXM, Pandora, Live FM, Music Choice and Apple Music, and new age radio shows like Echoes, featuring the quiet and reflective acoustic guitar music of guitarists like William Ackerman, Michael Hedges, Alex De Grassi, William Eaton and others who have helped listeners to find a calmer state of mind through their music.

If you’re an acoustic guitarist looking for ways to convey a quiet, more introspective kind of music, then partnering your intuition with your music is a good way to achieve that result. Acoustic guitar is often associated with a sense of intimacy, simplicity, and authenticity. Whether you're an experienced guitarist or just starting to explore the instrument, developing intuition can help you create music that resonates with your own emotions and connects with your listeners.

William Ackerman and Michael Hedges (photos by Irene Young)

In the words of empowerment guru Deepak Chopra, "The highest levels of performance come to people who are centered, intuitive, creative, and reflective – people who perceive problems as opportunities." This sentiment echoes through the wisdom of theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, who declared, "The only real thing of value is intuition."

In this post, I want to share my tips on how to be more intuitive when creating acoustic guitar music, tips that draw on my own approach and the influences of musical pioneers like Ackerman, Hedges and others.

First and foremost, it's important to build a deep connection with the guitar by playing it often. I have a special space where I practice. Set up a physical space or simply create a mental and emotional place inside where you can connect with the instrument. Think of the guitar as an extension of who you are, and if you treat it as such, you will be able to channel your intuition into your playing. In a sense try to become an instrument of the music.

My special place where I play and record. The studio is always ready to record when inspiration calls.

Once a profound connection with your guitar takes root, you can unfurl the sails of intuition for your musical voyage. My personal creative methodology springs forth from the conviction that the music unique to me – a melody echoing within my solitary realm – is an eternal presence within. All it necessitates is a tranquil mind and a cessation of self-critique, allowing it to cascade forth from the depths of my own being. Permit melodies to arise organically, akin to nature's gentle unfurling, and allow this natural rhythm to be the impetus propelling your creative journey.Once you've established a connection with your guitar, it's time to let your intuition guide you in your playing.

Guitarist Michael Hedges, known for his innovative approach to the instrument, was a proponent of allowing the music to emerge from within, rather than imposing a preconceived structure on it. He said, "I try to play what I hear inside me. I try to let my imagination and my emotions lead me….I don't sit down and write songs, I wait for them to come to me."

However, being intuitive doesn't mean abandoning all structure and technique. Grammy winning guitarist and composer and founder of Windham Hill Records, William Ackerman, stresses the importance of balancing intuition with a compositional approach. During an interview during the recording of my first album, “Sacred Love '' which Will produced, he said, "You do at a certain point have to let go of some control and say, where does this music want to go? It really does have a life of its own; you have to allow both to be present at the same time.”

Playing acoustic guitar intuitively can help you create music that expresses who you truly are. According to author Walter Isaacson, Apple founder Steve Jobs attributed his ability to focus to establishing a contemplative zen practice in his life, one that familiarized him with the power of intuition.

Here are eight practical ways to create and play music more intuitively. Incorporating any of these ideas into your own approach can help you develop a style that is both intuitive and grounded in technique. By being true to your own creative instincts, you may find that your music has the power to evoke emotions and inspire your listeners.

  1. Explore your emotions: Let your emotions guide your writing and playing by tapping into feelings and experiences to create music that is authentic and meaningful.

  2. Experiment with different sounds: Try different chord progressions, scales, and sounds to see what resonates with you and inspires new ideas.

  3. Trust your instincts: Trust your intuition when writing and performing, even if it means straying from conventional techniques or structures. Try things out and make it fun.

  4. Stay open to inspiration: Keep an open mind and be open to new ideas, allowing inspiration to come from unexpected sources.

  5. Practice improvisation: Improvise by laying down one track and improvise over it…over and over. Listen back. Improvise with friends. Improvisation is a powerful tool for developing intuition, allowing you to experiment and make music on the spot.

  6. Record your ideas: My studio is set up to record my acoustic guitar whenever inspiration calls. Record your ideas as soon as they come to you, even if they are rough sketches, to capture the magic of the moment. And listen back to your sessions to discover song stems that might be useful for the future.

  7. Collaborate with others: Collaborating with other musicians can help you to explore new sounds, ideas, and perspectives, and to grow as an intuitive performer.

  8. Allow yourself to make mistakes: Embrace mistakes and unexpected turns as part of the creative process, and be willing to take risks and try new things.

A few artists whose guitar music I enjoy: William Ackerman, Michael Hedges, Alex De Grassi, William Eaton, Todd Boston, Lawrence Platt, Todd Mosby, Vin Downes, Jeff Pearce, Ken Verheeke, Matteo Palmer, Robert Linton, Bruce BecVar, Neil Tatar, Todd Howe and Tom Caulfield.

Other artists you might enjoy: Ann Licater, Jeff Oster, Jill Haley, Misako, Heidi Breyer, Tom Eaton, Peter Kater, and Kathryn Kaye.

Shambhu Neil Vineberg is an acoustic guitarist who creates soulful and contemplative music. He is known for blending the beautiful sounds of acoustic guitar and new age and jazz music elements to create tranquil, mesmerizing music. His work has been described as relaxing and meditative, and it has been used by listeners to set the mood for an ideal environment. His latest album, Acoustic Oasis, releases this Fall.

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