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Myoan meri

 
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david
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PostPosted: 2011-05-23, 12:06    Post subject: Myoan meri Reply with quote

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I noticed that all the Myoan finger charts show the holes either open or closed..no half holing, etc.
I found an interesting comment on komuso .com that sheds a little light on this and was wondering if there is anymore to it. The interesting thing being that shakuhachi made before 1900 were made different (I'm assuming smaller finger holes) and could not accommodate fancy fingering.

If you go to choshi(fudaiji) under pieces, you will find this (which I assume is in the liner notes) for Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin-Sui Zen-Blowing Meditation on the Shakuhachi-01;

'Because these are such old pieces, some purists feel they should be played using an older technique, in which notes are flattened ("meri") only by lowering the head. Half-holes are not used. Modem shakuhachi players use a combination of the two techniques. However, before 1900, shakuhachi were made so that one could not be sure of getting a reliable sound if the holes were partially covered, so the lowered pitch of traditional Zen style could be achieved only through head movements. This gives a special sort of feeling and tone color.'


http://komuso.com/pieces/pieces.pl?piece=1821
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PostPosted: 2011-05-23, 18:12    Post subject: Some Taizan Ha playing conventions Reply with quote

UPDATED (with more clarification for "Ha") on Tues. May 24.Thanks, Dean.

I don't think there are many written instructions on how to play meri notes for old Myoan (Meian) shakuhachi. It will vary from each teacher's lineage, although some commonality may exist. The only formalized Meian style that has existed and, of course, evolved, is the Taizan Ha school (see Komuso.com). Other schools may exist as their own lineages and have there own conventions. (I am only on my fourth piece, but here are some constants I've learned about the style so far.)

I'm learning Taizan Ha from an American who has recently attained shihan status in Taizan Ha (He is also a Dia Shihan in Tozan). He has been learning Taizan Ha music over many years with the same teacher. He speaks and writes Japanese. He comes from the lineage of Tanikita Muchiku, the 37th Abbott of Myoan-ji Temple. This is also the music and style of Yoshimura Fuan Shoshin, the 40th Abbott.

In the official Temple produced notation, which hasn't changed since 1935:

All Tsu notes are played as Tsu-Meri (except in special instances where they are not or are designated using a karu notation on the left next to the note.) This can be expressed from E-flat to lower than E-flat. Taizan Tsu-meri is about the same pitch as a Kinko Tsu-meri and can even be expressed slightly lower like a Tozan Tsu-meri. (There may be some special school or teacher who teaches head only-no finger shading on certain Tsu notes, but it is the exception and not the rule.)

Meri notes are accomplished both with finger and head angles, some more one way than the other and this is present in the notation details (some notation different from the 1935 notation will show a horizontal hash mark on the left staff of the Tsu, this indicates more finger shading than head-cocking. I don't see this on the 1935 notation so it must be assumed that you have a teacher giving you the proper instruction.)

(On the 1935 notation the U has three versions, two with hash marks. The U with vertical hash mark is an U played mainly with the head cocked, light finger shading. The U with horizontal hash mark is played mainly with the fingers with a minor head-cocked position. The plain U is an equal combination of both.)

All Chi notes are played lightly meru, usually by hovering the finger over/around the Chi hole. On a 1.8 it is played a slightly flatted A (sometimes flatter). Never so meru as to be a strong G#.

There is no extreme Chi-meri in Taizan Ha as in Kinko or Yokoyama style. Instead there is a kan-U (five, four and, three fully closed, two and one fully open, head cocked-lightly -- the pitch is sharp of G. The kan-U-meri is produced with the 3 finger brought down to hovering or shaded position, head cocks slighly more down. Pitch is just just a bit above G (Re).

Re is played as a straight open Re pitched in G. It should sound slightly lower than the kan-U-meri note.

Tsu as mentioned before is played as Tsu-meri. There is no Tsu-chu-meri in Taizan Ha.

Ri is called Ha is Taizan Ha. Normal Ha fingering as, as in Kinko: 1, 2, 5 fully closed with 3, 4 fully open.

Ha is also present, importantly, in opening the first kan-Ro of a phrase: The kan-Ro is preceded by a short Ha fingered 1 and 3 fully closed, head cocked almost fully, 2, 4 and 5 hovering. it is played softly then quickly and seamlessly chin up (karu) to the kan-Ro. The Ro ends without any extended breath unless another Ro is to be repeated after it. No bristling long transition from an aspirated or noisy Ha to a dramatic bright kan-Ro as you hear in some Kinko interpretations. Just precise, smooth and relatively quick transition from Ha to Ro.

(Some Taizan Ha notation which is different from the official Myoan-ji 1935 scores may have special "ha-Ro" notation to help players figure out that "ha-Ro" is only played as the first note of a phrase. )

Almost all the Re notes when beginning a phrase are played Tsu-Re, even if not annonated as such. The Tsu is never aspirated by a Ha (or Ri) note as in Kinko. Instead the 1 finger is fully opened then fully closed with no breath, the Tsu is then sounded and then the RE. The Ha (Ri) is SILENT. No exceptions. The Tsu note can be played calmly and smoothly or may be played with more breath expression as called for.

Chi notes are normally preceded by a SILENT "Ha" note. (Just an open 1-hole index finger falling to closed position before sounding the Chi).

Ha notes are often preceded by a brief U note which may either be is played smoothly or briefly noisily as the phrase or piece dictates.

There is no stylistic or consistent yuri as there is in some Kinko or Min'yo lineages. ("Play as though you have a basket on your head" is the instruction given to my teacher from his teacher). There are special instances of yuri (if it is termed 'yuri' in Taizan Ha, I'm not certain) in some of the later, more advanced pieces and are visible in the notation.

Breath for a normal single beat note is naturally expired in a brief simple closing like a soft wedge. For half and quarter notes the note pretty much just stops because the tempo of the piece dictates the note stops abruptly so as not to interfere with the rhythmic flow of the music. No artful, gradual fading as in Tozan or Kinko honkyoku. No 'sasa-buki".

The idea is that this is temple music. It is played calmly, almost boringly so, and has a conditional rhythmic flow as taught in the Tanikita and Yoshimura lineages. It is almost the polar opposite of performance music like Kinko, Tozan, Chikuho, Jin Nyodo-style, Watazumi-style, Yokoyama-style, or modern 20th-century versions of what is commonly referred to as Myoan Shinpo Ryu music.

Taizan Ha is not a Ryu. It is a looser amalgamation of players who convene at Myoan-ji Temple. There is an Abbott and some priests, organizational heads, but no iemoto system as Tozan and Kinko people have.

Always, always, always -- there is rarely an "always." Sometimes there is an "always" and it usually means "always" in that context. Smile
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Last edited by x moran on 2011-05-25, 07:45; edited 2 times in total
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Koji Matsunobu
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PostPosted: 2011-05-25, 02:13    Post subject: Myoan meri Reply with quote

x moran wrote:
UPDATED (and open for more revision) on Tues. May 24. Thanks, Dean.

Always, always, always -- there is rarely an "always." Sometimes there is an "always" and it usually means "always" in that context. Smile


Well said.

Diversity is one feature of the "myoan" (and shakuhachi tradition) to me. I leaned taizan-ha pieces using Takahashi Rochiku sensei's edition, which shows slight (and sometimes big) differences from the official taizan-ha version, even though he himself learned taizan-ha from Tanikita Muchiku and Sato Jofu. (He is not into creating his own style but more into preserving what he learned from a variety of teachers. Justin Senryu has written extensively about his lineage). If I play kyorei in his notation, people at Myoan temple would frown at me.

x moran wrote:

This can be expressed from E-flat to lower than E-flat. Taizan Tsu-meri is about the same pitch as a Kinko Tsu-meri and can even be expressed slightly lower like a Tozan Tsu-meri


Is this true? Tsu-meri by taizan-ha players is "normally" sharper than E-flat. Takahashi sensei said to me that Sato Jofu emphasized lower meri. But he seems rather minority.
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x moran
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PostPosted: 2011-05-25, 04:48    Post subject: Myoan meri Reply with quote

Koji Matsunobu wrote:
x moran wrote:
UPDATED (and open for more revision) on Tues. May 24. Thanks, Dean.

Always, always, always -- there is rarely an "always." Sometimes there is an "always" and it usually means "always" in that context. Smile


Well said.

Diversity is one feature of the "myoan" (and shakuhachi tradition) to me. I leaned taizan-ha pieces using Takahashi Rochiku sensei's edition, which shows slight (and sometimes big) differences from the official taizan-ha version, even though he himself learned taizan-ha from Tanikita Muchiku and Sato Jofu. (He is not into creating his own style but more into preserving what he learned from a variety of teachers. Justin Senryu has written extensively about his lineage). If I play kyorei in his notation, people at Myoan temple would frown at me.

x moran wrote:

This can be expressed from E-flat to lower than E-flat. Taizan Tsu-meri is about the same pitch as a Kinko Tsu-meri and can even be expressed slightly lower like a Tozan Tsu-meri


Is this true? Tsu-meri by taizan-ha players is "normally" sharper than E-flat. Takahashi sensei said to me that Sato Jofu emphasized lower meri. But he seems rather minority.


Yes, that isn't true. Very Happy Thanks for questioning this.

First, I think I did not express this correctly. I have to go back and restate that the "normal" Taizan Ha note Tsu is played as one would play a Kinko Tsu-meri and then I should leave room in either direction whether it would be somewhat sharper or flatter, according to your teacher's preference. I don't think "Taizan Ha Tsu-meri" is the term to use. "Taizan Ha Tsu" is what I was referring to. I think there is a longer more detailed extrapolation we could make on this, but I'm leaving it here right now.

Trying to express Taizan Ha (or any of the older Myoan music) in Western terms seems pretty difficult, if not impossible. I still try, but it is, by its nature, wrong. As the zen saying goes "Open mouth already a mistake."

The Taizan Ha scale played on a Taizan Ha shakuhachi is not going to sound like the same scale on a modern Kinko or Tozan shakuhachi. The intervals are different. I've heard a lot of modern Kinko players, masters even, say that Meian flutes are out of tune, that Meian players play out of tune, that Meian is not meant to be "in tune." But that is all relative to modern Western pitch and scales and instruments. You and I know this, Justin knows this, a few others, but it's hard to communicate it to people who don't grapple with the Taizan Ha lineage, Seien Ryu or other related collections of lineages.

So I will change that statement to say: maybe, I think so, yes, sometimes.

Yes, I think that the Tsu is a little sharper than a Kinko Tsu-meri, but the Tsu hole of a traditional Taizan Ha flute is a little (or a lot) flatter than a modern Kinko flute. There are variables and hard-and-fast rules tend to get trampled.

Good old fashioned traditional Taizan Ha teachers made their own jinashi shakuhachi and taught their students how to make their own jinashi shakuhachi (I like your green bamboo shakuhachi, btw!). Pitch varies and people adjust pitch in order to play together. Meian people in Japan (there are almost no Meian gatherings outside of Japan) tend to formally play together in groups with other Meian shakuhachi players.

I've heard a couple of Westerners play their Taizan Ha note "Tsu" so sharp that it makes the note or note-cluster sound incomplete and makes them sound like very inexperienced players — and I know they're not. If you listen to the Tanikita or Yoshimura recordings you may hear different intervals, the Tsu may sound sharp to our ears, but the pitch will drop and rise relatively yet completely. It sounds whole and complete.

Okay, I've got myself in enough hot water on this for now. Let me move on because you said something very interesting that I wanted to comment on:

You said that Takahashi Rochiku-sensei learned from Tanikita Muchiku and Sato Jofu. If he learned from both, he probably blended both of their styles, no? If he did blend both (and I don't see how he could have helped not blending them) then he did make his own style just by synthesizing the two teachers' work. That is how traditional music works, does it not? Each player, after many years of learning, eventually makes their own decisions on how to play a note, a passage or a piece and the music evolves naturally.

So what do you think? Did I screw it up worse than before?
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x moran
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PostPosted: 2011-05-25, 07:50    Post subject: Myoan meri Reply with quote

Koji,

Are there any recordings of Sato Jofu that I can hear? Justin?
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PostPosted: 2011-05-25, 14:43    Post subject: Myoan meri Reply with quote

[quote="x moran"][quote="Koji Matsunobu"]
x moran wrote:
UPDATED (and open for more revision) on Tues. May 24. Thanks, Dean.

You said that Takahashi Rochiku-sensei learned from Tanikita Muchiku and Sato Jofu. If he learned from both, he probably blended both of their styles, no? If he did blend both (and I don't see how he could have helped not blending them) then he did make his own style just by synthesizing the two teachers' work. That is how traditional music works, does it not? Each player, after many years of learning, eventually makes their own decisions on how to play a note, a passage or a piece and the music evolves naturally.

So what do you think? Did I screw it up worse than before?


Sato Jofu was a student of Tanikita Muchiku. Takahashi Rochiku commuted to Kyoto to study with Tanikita Muchiku for a while. Sato Jofu moved to Tokyo, and that allowed Takahashi Rochiku to study with him. So they were in the same lineage. Takahashi Rochiku, however, studied with other teachers including Yamaue Getsuzan. He also learned some pieces from Iso Jozan at Icchoken, Sakaguchi Tesshin, and others. He recorded different playing styles. His attention to details is well kept in his notation. But I cannot say much to what extent he could avoid mixing things up. After all, we can only experience music through our ears and bodies. We are not robots. Maybe Justin has written about these things? He is much more updated.

Personally I don't know if Sato Jofu left any recording.

Yeah, there is always a tension between practitioners of big groups and those of small groups. Shakuhachi (and hogaku people in general) often say (perhaps not as much today as decades ago) that they have been treated down because of the country's general favor toward western music. Under their shade, taizan-ha people complained that they were under-represented. Independent minded practitioners not only complained big schools but also taizan-ha and any established groups. Those who belong to smaller groups need to make extra efforts to legitimate what they are doing.
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PostPosted: 2011-09-16, 17:18    Post subject: Re: Myoan meri Reply with quote

Sorry to say that I usually do not get a chance to read the forum. Regarding Rochiku-sensei, you might be interested to know that he also studied from another of Higuchi Taizan's students, Ikeda Suzan. He also mentioned that Tanikita Muchiku's meri was deeper when he was younger, but less deep when he was recorded in his old age.

Now to address the question of this topic:
david wrote:

If you go to choshi(fudaiji) under pieces, you will find this (which I assume is in the liner notes) for Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin-Sui Zen-Blowing Meditation on the Shakuhachi-01;

'Because these are such old pieces, some purists feel they should be played using an older technique, in which notes are flattened ("meri") only by lowering the head. Half-holes are not used. Modem shakuhachi players use a combination of the two techniques. However, before 1900, shakuhachi were made so that one could not be sure of getting a reliable sound if the holes were partially covered, so the lowered pitch of traditional Zen style could be achieved only through head movements. This gives a special sort of feeling and tone color.'


http://komuso.com/pieces/pieces.pl?piece=1821


I also was taught this when I first started studying in Jin Nyodo's lineage. There are however various problems with this claim.

1) It is often forgotten that the basis for the school being referred to here as "Myoan", and indeed the source of those pieces which in Kurahashi-sensei's school (the branch of Jin Nyodo's lineage to which Ronnie belongs) are referred to as being the most ancient and from Fudaiji, is Seien-ryu, a school which still exists today. In Seien-ryu, the meri notes are shaded, and there is nothing to my knowledge to suggest that they were not also shaded at the time Taizan studied in Seien-ryu. The oral tradition and oldest surviving documents, as well as current practice, all indicate shaded meri.

2) The oldest shakuhachi that I have played which I can verifiably date is about 270 years old. There was no problem in playing meri using finger shading. Furthermore, I regularly spend about half of my time playing Edo period shakuhachi (the other half playing my own shakuhachi) of various styles, both in my lessons with my teachers and in my own practice and performance, and none of them restrict me from using finger shading.

3) There are Edo period scores which specify the use of finger shading for meri notes.

Another issue is the very question of "Myoan meri", in relation to pre-1900 shakuhachi playing style. What is being discussed here is in fact the "Myoan" school founded by Higuchi Taizan during the Meiji period, at the end of the 19th century. None of the music of his school was from the Edo period Myoan temple, although he based his school around a new site which became the Myoan revival temple. His principal teachers were from Seien-ryu and Kinko-ryu. His repertoire and style were quite different from the Edo period honkyoku tradition of the Myoan temple. To save confusion, although Taizan's school is at times known as "Myoan-ryu" (and various other names) I find it useful to use the term "Taizan-ryu" for Higuchi Taizan's school (a term which he himself was known to have used), and "Kyu-Myoan" (correctly written "Kyū-Myōan"), meaning "Old Myoan" for the native Kyoto style. These terms leave no ambiguity in what is being talked about, and indeed are terms used by some people in Japan, so I encourage this usage. "Kyu-Myoan" includes Shimpo-ryu, which became the main school passing on the Kyoto pieces. For a little more information on that school's lineage I have written a few words about Yamaue Getsuzan here:
http://www.komuso.com/people/people.pl?person=877

In this Kyu-Myoan style, finger shading was used in the Edo period, both according to the oral lineage and surviving Edo period documents.
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PostPosted: Today at 09:49    Post subject: Myoan meri

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