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  • Salil Bhayani

Intuition Vs. Skill


Being a composer, I think about these two terms a lot. Am I going to trust my intuition, or am I going to trust my skill? Are these two opposites? There have been so many times in my life when educators and experts would say to me, "Don't ever let the education kill your intuition." The reason I took it for granted that education perhaps clouds intuition is because my relationship to music, especially composition, before any formal education began was purely intuitive. So, when I was in the process of being formally educated, it seemed like I was being taught what not to do. Previously, I was the one who decided what not to do, and it may have had nothing to do with what the "rules" said. Now, I was being told what not to do, and in some cases, what to do. Education certainly taught me that choice, at the core of it, is really a process of elimination. The more sophisticated the process, the better the choice.


Sometimes, I feel like I suffer from Imposter's Syndrome, but that is simply not true. I have a long journey to make before I am good enough at my art to call it that. How does one define good art, anyway? I tried thinking about it, talking to people about it, reading about it, and in the end, I feel like good art is two things... skill and intuition.


Intuition, as far as I understand is the ability to find within your soul what it is that you want to say. You may be telling someone else's story, but to make it your own and to tell it with honesty is what I think of as intuition. Skill is all about how you say that story. Telling a story often requires building an architecture in time, or in space, or both, and having the tools to create the best possible architecture to tell that story is what I think of as skill. Every time I learn a new skill, I feel like I have acquired a new tool. The more tools I have, the more I feel the art can demand from me. The more skills I acquire, the more I learn that it is never me "creating" art, it is always art knocking at my door to see if I am ready to express it.


More often than not, if I open the door, it comes and sits with me for a while, even if I am not ready. It waits for me to be ready, and sometimes even when I am not ready, it manifests itself in incomplete and not so perfect forms, because it knows it needs to be out there for me to be ready, for being ready requires me to see it in a way that tells me every single time what not to do. When I can no longer hear that voice, I will know I have managed to make good art.

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