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Learning new styles on the shakuhachi
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Kiku Day
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PostPosted: 2013-02-05, 10:29    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

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I am now learning two new styles of shakuhachi playing via Skype

Tozan repertoire with Jean-François Lagrost

Min'yoō repertoire with Endo Yoshihiro

And the feeling of learning something new... not being able to really play the style because of the lack of experience and therefore having lots to work on.... that is just such an amazing feeling!
I feel like being a beginner... of course not in playing but beginner of the style... and just enjoying that! Smile

Anyone else learning something else than a style they have learned throughly?
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LowBlow
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PostPosted: 2013-02-05, 10:44    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

Do you use your Jinashi flutes for that or do you switch? Are Jinashi suited for Min'yoo?
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Fiona Dawes
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PostPosted: 2013-02-05, 11:13    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

Hi Kiku,

After learning the beginner Chikuho repertoire with Riley Lee, over a number of years, I am now also learning Yokoyama's Kinko pieces with Bronwyn Kirkpatrick. I am finding the differences fascinating; the notation, ornamentations and flow, I can hear some of the movements (?) more clearly.

It is not that they are so very different, so my studies are complementary. I am appreciating more in the honkyoku and have an opportunity to choose my favourite pieces. Next lesson will be exciting, an opportunity to review one of Yokoyama's pieces with Riley.

Cheers for now.
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JF Lagrost
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PostPosted: 2013-02-05, 11:50    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

People often ask me if it's difficult to switch from concert flute to shakuhachi (or the inverse). I think the real problem is not switching instrument but switching style, and I understand your trouble Kiku ! Playing contemporary music and switching between shakuhachi and concert flute is not a problem. Switching between baroque and romantic, or between Tozan and KSK, that's difficult. You must totally change your mindset, the way your read, the way you think (or not think) the music.

Of course there's also the problem of the instrument. Pieces have been thought for an instrument (modern jiari, long jinashi, Hotteterre flute...), they will probably sound ideally on this instrument. But in my opinion this doesn't preclude playing the repertoire you want on the flute you want (G. Crumb's Vox Balaenae this summer in Prague was a good idea from Vlastislav I think).

Beginning a new style is very exciting, and in shakuhachi world there's always a style to learn... As a teacher, learning a new style involves a lot of humility, we feel like a beginner indeed. But I love the feeling of always being a beginner in something ! It also helps to understand the difficulties of our students...

Kiku, what I heard yesterday is very promising, Tozan on jinashi sounds great ! Okay
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Rick Riekert
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PostPosted: 2013-02-05, 17:22    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

After focusing exclusively on traditional Jin Nyodo style repertoire I’m now learning my first extended contemporary piece written for shakuhachi in Western notation and it’s definitely a challenge. I can’t say I feel like a beginner again because for the 5 years I’ve been playing I’ve never stopped feeling like one.
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Mastery does not lay in the mastery of technique, but in penetrating the heart of the music. However, he who has not mastered the technique will not penetrate the heart of the music.
~ Hisamatsu Fûyô
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Kiku Day
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PostPosted: 2013-02-06, 10:33    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

Great to hear of others learning other styles than what they are familiar with. Smile

Rick, I totally understand where you are at. I have read Western music notation wince I was 3... but the first time I tried to read and play shakuhachi from Western notation, it really threw me out. Probably also because I then had a 1.8 in my hands for the first time... and then I couldn't understand that a G was there on a shakuhachi... What I saw on the page and what I had embodied as physical movements and sound did not fit together.... but I quickly got used to it though...

LowBlow, yes I play jinashi shakuhachi. I am a jinashi player and I did once buy a wonderful jinuri shakuhachi, but it was clear that I was never going to sound great on a jinuri, so I sold it again. I have 4 jinashi shakuhachi tuned to D. But 2 are a bit flat, so I have to work a lot on it to be in tune... one is a bit sharp, the last one is pretty much spot on but not a good shakuhachi.... One day I will manage to get a wonderful D jinashi shakuhachi. Not that I am not very pleased with the ones I have. I just have to work more than I would have had to if they were perfectly on D.

Jean-François, I really understand what you say about the switch between styles are more difficult than the switch between instrument. I remember I had trouble to switch between shakuhachi and traverse flute just in the beginning... but that problem disappeared very quickly. However, I can still find it hard to switch between two different honkyoku within the same style if they have very different expressions. I have to reset the mind and body to the next honkyoku. So that is very true as well when it comes to style. It will be exciting to see how well I will be able to play really in Tozan style. I am new to Tozan so I surely still sound and play like a Zensabo player who is reading Tozan music. But I hope that will change!
And thanks for your encouraging words! Razz

Fiona, you have learned the Chikuho notation yes. That is great! That is one quite big switch but one that you learn to deal with quickly - I have found. As long as you keep playing both notation systems. My Tozan reading is getting better!!! Smile
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Kiku Day
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PostPosted: 2013-02-07, 10:58    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

LowBlow, I didn't answer your question regarding jinashi shakuhachi and min'yō.
Endo, the min'yō teacher who came to the Summer School in 2011 in London once told me that min'yō singers disliked the sound of jinashi when he tried to play on one. He said the reason they gave was that they thought the sound was too close to the human voice....

But that apart... I play min'yō on my jinashi shakuhachi. And it works out fine. Endo now teaches me min'yō playing on jinashi shakuhachi he made (in fact we both usually play jinashi made by him). I suppose he feels that he has to adapt since I am "such a jinashi shakuhachi player unable to really play well on jinuri..."
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2013-02-07, 11:49    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

How's your sound on PVC and wood? Seaweed?

Mort de Rire
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Kiku Day
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PostPosted: 2013-02-08, 00:17    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

Brian Tairaku Ritchie wrote:
How's your sound on PVC and wood? Seaweed?

Mort de Rire


What-ever I play, I first and foremost sound like kiku or kuku (as I like to call myself)... but then there are subtle differences. I'd love to play on a seaweed. Next I want to have that set of PVC shakuhachi that can become long and short depending on how you assemble them....
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LowBlow
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PostPosted: 2013-02-08, 16:26    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

Kiku Day wrote:
LowBlow, I didn't answer your question regarding jinashi shakuhachi and min'yō.
Endo, the min'yō teacher who came to the Summer School in 2011 in London once told me that min'yō singers disliked the sound of jinashi when he tried to play on one. He said the reason they gave was that they thought the sound was too close to the human voice....

But that apart... I play min'yō on my jinashi shakuhachi. And it works out fine. Endo now teaches me min'yō playing on jinashi shakuhachi he made (in fact we both usually play jinashi made by him). I suppose he feels that he has to adapt since I am "such a jinashi shakuhachi player unable to really play well on jinuri..."


Thank you Kiku. "..sound ... too close to the human voice...." interesting argument. I am not sure here, but isn't it necessary to switch the pitch (flute length) according to the tune or singers voice when playing minyo?

BTW i found this at Wikipedia. It might be of some interest. Never thought that Minyo is a translation of a German word:

"Min'yō (民謡?) is a genre of traditional Japanese music. The term is a translation of the German word "Volkslied" (folk song) and has only been in use during the twentieth century.[1] [2] Japanese traditional designations referring to more or less the same genre include "inaka bushi" ("country song") "inaka buri" ("country tune"), "hina uta" ("rural song") and the like, but for most of the people who sang such songs they were simply "uta" (song).[3] The term min'yō is now sometimes also used to refer to traditional songs of other countries, though a preceding adjective is needed: Furansu min'yō = French folk song; for this reason, many sources in Japanese also feel the need to preface the term with "Nihon": Nihon min'yō = Japanese [traditional] folk song."
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Kiku Day
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PostPosted: 2013-02-10, 10:03    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

Hi LowBlow

Yes, you change shakuhachi according to the voice of the singer in minyo. A profesiional minyo plager has a case with a set of shakuhachi in all sizes. I forgot how many. Some male voises suit as low as an A shakuhachi while female voices often are accompanied by 1.6-1.8. But it all varies.

Yea minyo is a translation of a German word. Quite a few words in Japanese share that background in the cultural and scientific spheres.
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2013-02-12, 15:04    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

I saw a set of minyo shakuhachi in Japantown SF that went from 1.3 (G) to 2.3 (Bb). Actually I wish I bought it but I was in one of my rare "do not buy more shakuachi" phases. I suppose they learn the tune using a particular fingering and then ascertain what key the singer is in and choose the appropriate flute.

The flutes were all easy to play. Not what we would consider honkyoku flutes but they were OK for casual playing.
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Lorka
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PostPosted: 2013-02-12, 23:14    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

That last sentence got me thinking Brian... In your experience, does ease of playability usually connote a lack of complexity, character, or some other feature that would be desirable for honkyoku? Or, put another way, what makes for a great honkyoku flute? I have been mulling this question over lately, as I would like at some point to get some kind of vintage jiari (ideally one that does not break the bank), to be used primarily for honkyoku. I have a good modern 1.8. It's solid, but I am curious about the older flutes. I know you, and many of the other pros are knowledgeable about these sorts of flutes, so I am curious what you think. Sorry if this sort of side tracks the main point of the tread.
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2013-02-13, 13:21    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

Hi Lorka,

I think all shakuhachi players have problems playing every flute all the time.

Mort de Rire

So everything is a relative matter. Hopefully once you play the flute enough you get used to it and it is not difficult any more. All of the great jiari flutes I have played which have been good for honkyoku were also good for other music. That's one of the nice things about good jiari flutes.

I personally like a flute that gives resistance and I like to have to work to get the tone to activate. But that's me. Somebody else might like to be able to blow softly and get a strong tone. It's a matter of personal preference.
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J. Danza
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PostPosted: 2013-02-13, 23:24    Post subject: Learning new styles on the shakuhachi Reply with quote

I've always believed it's the player that counts... Give the same flute to three different players and you'll get three different sounds... give a great flute to a poor player and a cheapo flute to a master and you know what will happen... So the question is: can you play Honkyoku well?... if the answer is yes, then simply play it on any given flute and decide whether it works or not. I personally use some of the phrases in Mukaiji to test a flute for Honkyoku. I just got a PVC test flute from Perry and it does absolutely great Cool! I think it may be similar to what they say about spirituality: "when the student is ready the master appears"... One is well advised to concentrate on technique and feel and less on which flute does what.
That said... once your technique is mastered there will be flutes that appeal and serve you more than others, but by then you won't have to ask anybody else about it (which, as Brian pointed out, is quite useless anyway since it's personal and relative... even the same flute that seemed easy to play one day will be laughing at you the next)

Congratulations Kiku on going back to "beginners mind"... you inspired me and I will try to do the same once I get settled in Tel Aviv. I think being an eternal student is one of the secrets for living a good and full life!
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