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Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school
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Rasmus Fugl
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PostPosted: 2013-10-25, 22:24    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

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Hello everyone!

In Denmark it is mandatory that each student writes a short thesis/written assignment in second year of high school school with emphasis on one or more of the subjects that the students are taking or have taken previously. Given that I took Japanese last year and am taking music this year, combined with the fact that I'm interested in the shakuhachi, I've decided that I would like to make my project about this.

Once the overall theme has been chosen (in my case, Shakuhachi) one has to narrow it down and formulate some sort of problem or question that the student would like to learn more about and (possibly) find an answer to. Examples could be "What was the leading cause behind the Holocaust?", "How does smoking cigarettes really affect the body?", or something like that.

I need help with finding some sort of problem or question about shakuhachi that can be the basis for the content of my short (about 15 pages long) thesis/project. So far I have read the following materials:

    Tsukitani Tsukeno, chapter 7: the shakuhachi and it's music

    Shakuhachi zen - the fukeshû and komusô, by James H. Standford


The first one is an overview of the flute's origins and it's various incarnations, the history of honkyoku, a little bit about the komuso and fukeshu sect, and about shakuhachi techniques (only about 17 pages). The second is a historic thesis on the origins of the shakuhachi and, most importantly, on the establishment of the fukeshu sect and the role of the komuso, and also a little bit about the origins of the honkyoku repetoir.

What interests me the most is the origins of the flute, the sect, the komuso and the honkyoku repetoir, the komuso's true motivation for playing the shakuhachi, what the honkyoku melodies mean and the ambigous myths surrounding their origins, etc - at least it is from the basis of these aspects of the shakuhachi that I want to base my project on.

Because music is one of the subjects and Japanese the other, I have to both show my capabilities in the analysis of one or two pieces of music (these will be honkyoku of course) while also showing that I have knowledge in the historical aspects surrounding the music, and I have to show my Japanese capabilities by possibly including a quote from a Japanese source, translating it and explaining it (I'm still not sure about this one though).

If there are anyone out there who have an interest in the historical aspects of the flute and/or know a lot about it, or if you just have some great ideas on what could be an exciting thing to base my project on, then please write a comment with your suggestion. If possible it would also help if you could recommend some informative literature that can help give me a bigger overview of the topic and perhaps help sprout some ideas in my head.

Thank for your attention.
Rasmus
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Kiku Day
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PostPosted: 2013-10-26, 10:33    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

Rasmus, my opinion is that you are way too broad in what you are interested in. For your essay, you have to narrow in much much more... otherwise you will get a vague and uninteresting essay. Write your problem now and then go from there. The following you menion:

"the origins of the flute, the sect, the komuso and the honkyoku repetoir, the komuso's true motivation for playing the shakuhachi, what the honkyoku melodies mean and the ambigous myths surrounding their origins, etc " does not form a basis from where you can base your project. All the things you mention sounds more like a mature scholar who have spent decades researching shakuhachi. So narrow it down! That is our first task or just read around till you can narrow it down. You said you have access to JSTOR? Seach shakuhachi and read around and then make your "problem" or research question.

Good luck with it!
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LowBlow
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PostPosted: 2013-10-26, 11:09    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

You might want to read Riley Lee's PhD Thesis as well. You can find it on his homepage
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Rasmus Fugl
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PostPosted: 2013-10-26, 12:20    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

Kiku Day wrote:
Rasmus, my opinion is that you are way too broad in what you are interested in. For your essay, you have to narrow in much much more... otherwise you will get a vague and uninteresting essay. Write your problem now and then go from there.


Yes, you're right. This is basically what everybody keeps telling me, but it's true. I was hoping I might be able to find something surrounding the history of the shakuhachi and the fuke sect that I could base my essay on, but someone who wrote me a message convinced me that the origins are probably way too vague to write anything tangible or interesting about it in less than 15 pages. Plus it's already been done to death, and most of the thesis contradict each other on many aspects, it's like studying history. I've decided I want to focus more specifically on the music itself, and I think Riley Lee's thesis is a good place to start, as LowBlow writes. But it still doesn't solve my problem of how I can narrow down my focus. I hope reading some more about honkyouku will help me do that.
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LowBlow
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PostPosted: 2013-10-26, 17:56    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

Perhaps concentrate on one school and within this school to the san koten Honkyoku. Thats only three pieces. If you can read German the book from Gutzwiller about Kinko is a good source. You can look here: https://circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/20631?show=full as well.
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felix martens
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PostPosted: 2013-10-26, 20:26    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

What about what's happening now. Some say there is no longer a line of true masters coming through, and that the players in the West can't be so deeply involved in the instrument given that they are not Japanese. A big debate there.
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jamesnyman
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PostPosted: 2013-10-27, 04:41    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

Sounds pretty racist to me.
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felix martens
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PostPosted: 2013-10-27, 09:45    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

Hi Jamesnyman, I think you are confusing two concepts, race and culture. Racism to be deplored and culture to be celebrated. I think my point stands that to really come to terms with the shakuhachi you'd have to immerse yourself in Japanese culture, and even with the best intentions that is difficult from the outside.
I'm not sure where your remark was aimed but I fail to see its relevance, though perhaps you have given Rasmus his topic.
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jamesnyman
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PostPosted: 2013-10-27, 17:35    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

I stand by my remark. To say that only the Japanese can be deeply involved in the shakuhachi is racist and exclusionary. Then again, it is possible that all non-Japanese are really playing the one foot eight inch and not the shakuhachi.
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felix martens
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PostPosted: 2013-10-27, 19:15    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

To say that you have missed the point would be an understatement.
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Kiku Day
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PostPosted: 2013-10-27, 21:55    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

Please, speak nicely to each other on the forum! Okay
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felix martens
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PostPosted: 2013-10-27, 22:30    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

Sorry, Kiku, just trying to discuss a point. I apologise if my tone seemed immoderate. But I think that there is an important discussion to be had on the future direction of the shakuhachi. Given that what attracted me to the shakuhachi was Japanese music, I have heard with some concern that the instrument is finding less of a following in Japan.
Clearly, it has an increased following abroad, taking it in various new and perhaps fruitful directions but for those of us who struggle to appreciate the shakuhachi's roots, there is the sad thought that its future as a Japanese art form may be limited.
No discussion of racism needs to enter the fray. Nobody can or will be excluded from playing, indeed who on earth suggested that, but no one from outside Japanese culture and society can truly enter the traditional world of the shakuhachi.
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2013-10-28, 02:07    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

That's silly. There are plenty of good practitioners of shakuhachi in the West. You're also presuming that all Japanese engage in Japanese culture on the same level. They do not. Shakuhachi styles have been waxing and waning in Japan regardless of any influence from Western players. Western composers maybe, but that started with Tozan and had to do with Japanese adopting those ideas, not with them being thrust upon shakuhachi from the outside. Japanese players experimented with jazz, rock, contemporary art music, etc. with little or no influence from Western players. And the traditional styles have been popular or become extinct based on a lot of factors within Japan. For sure the shakuhachi world in Japan today does not resemble that of 100 or 200 years ago, it's a natural process.
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PostPosted: 2013-10-28, 02:31    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

I apologize if my remarks were taken to be hostile. I just do not see how playing the shakuhachi can be seen as the exclusive property of the Japanese. I truly honor the genesis of the shakuhachi as being Japanese, but it has grown beyond that and I do resent the implication that it is solely their property in this day and age. There are way too many western masters for that to be the case.
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PostPosted: 2013-10-28, 02:46    Post subject: Suggested topics for short shakuhachi project at school Reply with quote

I did not mean to start a controversy. I apologize if my remarks were offensive. I will leave this forum and just play for my own enlightenment which is probably how it should just be.
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