The construction of a musical instrument is the bringing together of multiple activities. Designing, assembling, decorating and varnishing are all stages in the road that leads to sound. Even the smallest element, apparently insignificant, is the mirror of a way of being, whose nature, unitary or fragmentary as it may be, is inevitably reflected in the maker's every gesture.
All the various elements contribute to the unity of the final work, the mirror of the thought that inspired it, no one element predominating over any other, and none being absent. Not even the most complex, the richest, the most decorative or the most innovative technical feature should predominate. For this reason invention is difficult. An invention, when regarded as an explanation for the "mystery" of sound, tends to draw attention to itself, to detract from the perception of a totality of events, to complicate things rather than allow the various elements to flow together naturally. Everything must serve a purpose, and with humility. In this respect Antonio de Torres teaches us an important lesson. To look at one of his guitars is to find nothing special, nothing that can rationally provide an answer to the question, 'But how can it possibly sound like that?' Nothing is superfluous, everything is indispensable, everything is 'simplÈ. And yet the result is astonishing, and one inevitably asks oneself where such beauty, such emotional power comes from. There is only one answer: from Torres himself.
His guitars have no secrets, no tricks, no mysteries. They were built with the love that is the driving force behind all true art. Simply that. We have played and studied many of them, of various forms, types, sizes and materials, and with various kinds of "invention" inside them. And yet they are all similar in their way. In all of them one recognises the same hand, the same heart. This is the greatest achievement an artist can hope for: to transcend matter and technique, to make genetically one"s own all those elements we study so intensely, often with great persistence, and to which we attribute an importance they do not deserve - to make those elements so much one"s own that they are no longer perceptible, to use them in an unobtrusive and harmonious way, so that even the most difficult things seem simple, flow smoothly, refute the most tested theory with the evidence of fact.
The person who has modelled the element communicates something to us directly, without words. The moment we try to drag an "art" outside its own domain, to translate it into a language that does not belong to it, its voice is silenced. To speak of it can be to distract our attention away from its true content, to risk drawing attention to the finger rather than to the moon it points to.
Text from the book La chitarra di liuteria - Masterpieces of Guitar Making