Gustavo Santaolalla

“If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.” – Lucille Ball

I’m convinced that busy people are superior at 2 things: managing their time, and controlling their perfectionism. They create an inertia — where they become so efficient at getting things done, they can take on more and more stuff.

Time management

Personally, I’m amazed at the output and diversity of material by artists like Gustavo Santaolalla: touring with Bajofondo, composing (and recording) material for film projects — all while attending award ceremonies, movie premiers, conferences, and round-table discussions all over the country. Gustavo Santaolalla is 63.

I read a piece on Gustavo Santaolalla where it mentions that he keeps strict studio hours. When not performing, he heads to his Echo Park studio every day to write and and record. Entire movie scores are recorded before a single frame is shot — most notably Brokeback Mountain.

I would imagine, with a backlog of already recorded demos, he has music already poised for future projects. Some of the music that didn’t find a home on screen, eventually became Santaolalla’s latest solo album, Camino.

You can already see the snowball of output begin to form. Through disciplined time management, Gustavo Santaolalla has material “on deck” for whatever his next project may be. What would appear to be a stressful amount of deadline work, is actually seamless flow of creativity that eventually channels to it’s destination.

One way I get stuff done for Intellimusica is by introducing my upcoming blog material to my physical students when they’re at a loss for stuff to play on guitar. Teaching is the best form of practice for me, so I’m able to mentally rehearse my Intellimusica material during my physical workday.

Controlling perfectionism

High-yield people resist getting mired in perfectionism. Setting a trajectory towards perfection is necessary for a quality product. However, becoming obsessed with every little nuance of what you’re trying to achieve is unnecessary. This is still difficult thing for me to manage.

To this day, it takes me a dozen takes for every video I upload to YouTube. At some point in the recording process, I finally come to terms with the fact that — what I think is mediocre — will actually come off as pretty good to most people.

If you listen to some of Gustavo Santaolalla’s single instrument performances, you can hear squeaky strings, breathing, a couple of off notes. It all sounds very natural and authentic. Clearly he knows a good job is good enough, and most high-yield people have come to understand this.


(Note: Relatos Salvajes is my premium material.)

How to play Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales) for guitar

It’s always good to get back to Gustavo Santaolalla material. This makes two posts in a row where I (unusually) used a guitar pick. It’s also another campy sounding guitar theme — just like Better Call Saul — albeit with a spanish bent to it.

Relatos Salvajes is a multi-instrument song. For this Intellimusica version, I’ve distilled it down in to a single, solo guitar piece — comprised of the basic backing chords and principle melody.

The guitar tab is meticulously written and indicates the chord shape, as well as displaying the melody. You’ll notice in 0:38 of the video, I’m using my middle finger in conjunction with my guitar pick to pluck the shapes after the chord is strummed.

With regard to the strumming, a (….) symbol following a chord indicates to strum. The exact strumming is located below the (….). D means down, and U means up. Simple.

Good luck, the tab is available below:

Although Relatos Salvajes is played in standard tuning, my guitar in the recording is tuned one 1/2 step down. It’s a 1970 Yamaha that refuses to be tuned beyond 1/2 step down.

Gustavo Santaolalla’s Wild Tales for guitar

Please comment to let me know what you think, or of you have any questions.


Written by:

Matthew's dad, Jennifer's husband, bass player - New Invisible Joy, YouTuber, short-film composer, creator of modern content for guitar.