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Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece?

 
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Jon Kypros
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PostPosted: 2013-04-30, 20:11    Post subject: Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece? Reply with quote

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Jinashi shakuhachi are rarely the right length between the utaguchi node and the roots to produce a perfectly pitched tonic or "Ro". For example, a shakuhachi could be between two pitches like "Db4" and "D4" ("Db/D"). Since all of the finger holes are tuned to the tonic "Ro", each finger hole would also be tuned between pitches to match "Ro". This is called "tuned to itself". However, sometimes a slight length adjustment can be made by using permanent or working joints to make a shakuhachi have a perfectly pitched tonic "Ro". So for example we could make a "Db/D" a "D" by shortening it or make it a "Db" by lengthening it.

The question: If you had to decided would you rather have a shakuhachi that is tuned to a perfect tonic with some joint work done or a shakuhachi that is "nobe" and does not have a perfectly pitched Ro and is "tuned to itself"? Lastly, if you could describe why you would choose one over the other.
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Kiku Day
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PostPosted: 2013-05-01, 00:33    Post subject: Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece? Reply with quote

Firstly, joint work - do you mean a joint in the middle like on a normal modern jinuri shakuhachi?

For me anyway, it really depends on what I will use the flute for. If it is for honkyoku, the timbre and to some degree the flute being in tune with itself comes over the 'perfect' pitch relation to the Western pitch system. But if I am looking for a shakuhachi for ensemble playing.. hmmmmmm.... personally I prefer both nobe and perfectly tuned to standard Western pitch.... Am I extravagant by wanting both?
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Jon Kypros
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PostPosted: 2013-05-01, 01:35    Post subject: Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece? Reply with quote

Now that you mention it I was hoping people would consider both permanent and working joints. Permanent joints would be adding or removing a little bit of length just under the utaguchi or around the root. Let's say no more than 2cm of change in any case. I put the stipulation on having to decide between the two in hopes of hearing people's reasoning behind their choice. Let's say this flute would be an addition to your collection and that you already own a 1.8 for lessons etc.
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J. Danza
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PostPosted: 2013-05-05, 09:54    Post subject: Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece? Reply with quote

I much prefer to have flutes "in pitch", and if the addition/removal is done tastefully, sometimes it even adds to the look of the flute. I prefer them in pitch because each flute will have it's own quality, and I rather not find myself in an ensemble situation wishing "that" particular flute was in pitch. Of course, if I fall in love with an instrument, the pitch will come second, but if I were to order one, I'd make sure it's in pitch.
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2013-05-05, 15:36    Post subject: Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece? Reply with quote

Some of my favorite flutes are between western pitches. But as time goes on I am more interested in ones that are on western pitches, so that I can use them in ensemble or solo. The others are only useful for solo honkyoku or playing with un-pitched percussion or electronics. Especially because I travel a lot and have limited space and weight restrictions, I use flutes that are in tune with Western pitches.

That said, I think the makers should make nobe shakuhachi as the bamboo wants to be revealed and not worry about Western pitch. Price each flute according to its value, and pitch might be a factor in that pricing. You will also have pieces of wood with bad node placement, and sometimes those can be cut to create flutes that are in pitch and either be represented as two piece flutes or as quasi nobe flutes with a mortise joint.

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Paul Gardner
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PostPosted: 2013-05-06, 22:54    Post subject: Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece? Reply with quote

Jon, are you proposing to make shakuhachis with working joints similar to those found on traditional Irish/Celtic flutes and low-Whistles?
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Jon Kypros
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PostPosted: 2013-05-07, 00:01    Post subject: Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece? Reply with quote

Paul Gardner wrote:
Jon, are you proposing to make shakuhachis with working joints similar to those found on traditional Irish/Celtic flutes and low-Whistles?


I personally prefer permanent joints but for my hypothetical question you can consider both and your pros/cons for either type of joint.
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Paul Gardner
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PostPosted: 2013-05-07, 09:10    Post subject: Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece? Reply with quote

Well hypothetically I wouldn't think that a working joint would have the stability required for shakuhachi playing. the tuning-slides found on Irish/ Celtic flutes and low whistles are usually metal-on-metal with joint-grease to lubricate the slide. This can have a tendency to move if the joint is not tight or the player is too animated (noticeably with low-whistles more).
The one-piece flute is a much more 'solid' instrument in the hand. There is potentially a lot of dynamic movement with the shakuhachi and this could cause movement within the tuning-slide during playing causing a noticeable change in pitch.
As for the tuning, that's very personal. As long as it can play the music that you need it to then that's fine. If you are concerned with an instrument that can play in a Western equal-tempered scale, which is inherently a compromise within the octave, then personally I think you are straying away from the sound of the instrument being the important factor in favour of simply playing the tune.
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2013-05-07, 15:50    Post subject: Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece? Reply with quote

Paul Gardner wrote:

As for the tuning, that's very personal. As long as it can play the music that you need it to then that's fine. If you are concerned with an instrument that can play in a Western equal-tempered scale, which is inherently a compromise within the octave, then personally I think you are straying away from the sound of the instrument being the important factor in favour of simply playing the tune.


Don't really understand this part. Shakuhachi roughly has 1, minor 3rd, 4, 5, and minor 7th for the open holes. They all fit into the western scale and the rest is up to you. The issue is that it's difficult to play with other instruments who tune to c. A=440 if the flute is 432 for example. But a shakuhachi that is tuned to 440 is not any more or less compromised when playing Japanese music. Or even western music. I don't use an equally tempered scale when I'm playing anything!

Sure, there are old flutes with flat tsu and sharp chi but that's a stylistic thing, not related to basic pitch of the instrument. And I don't think that's what Jon is talking about here.
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Paul Gardner
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PostPosted: 2013-05-08, 00:17    Post subject: Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece? Reply with quote

Sorry Brian I didn't mean to be vague.
It's just that when people talk about playing with other musicians it kind of presupposes that everyone else will be in tune with each other when in reality this can be far from the truth.
Even the equally-tempered piano, which for many people is the accepted reference point for being in tune, can vary in its actual tuning; For instance a domestic-tuned piano in the home and a concert-tuned piano on stage with an orchestra 'both tuned to an equal-tempered concert pitch (let's say A=440) will posses different qualities of tuning at the bass and treble extremities. These are called 'stretched octaves'. The domestic tuned piano will have its treble-end slightly flattened in pitch whilst the bass end will be a fraction shorter or sharp. This is because the ear has got used to a slight taming of the treble, so it doesn't sound overly shrill, and the bass end is brought up a little to make it a little more recognizable and less muddy in tone. Now compare this to a concert-tuned piano where the octaves at the bass and treble are less 'stretched'. This is so it will 'fit in' better with all the other groups of instruments with their diverse tunings and shifting pitches, such as woodwind sharpening as they warm up etc.
Both these pianos are tuned to an equally tempered pitch at A=440 but they will sound slightly different if placed together and then compared.
The subtleties of tuning are like signatures and many piano tuners can recognise the work of other tuners by, amongst other things, the stretched octaves.

The point of this waffle is that even within the realms of playing with others the concept of being 'in tune' is more about a personal connect between the player and the instrument.
You might have a flute that is 'in tune' with one piano only to find that is is slightly out against another. Or you might be in tune with the bass player but not the guitarist. But we learn to adapt and make the best of what we have.

And besides, there's nothing wrong with taking several instruments to the gig. One of them is bound to be in tune with the rest of the band...hopefully. Very Happy
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2013-05-08, 17:29    Post subject: Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece? Reply with quote

Hi Paul, yes I do it all the time and some flutes work and others don't. So I bring the ones that do! Okay Mr. Green Exclamation Razz Cool Very Happy

I'm totally in favor of tuning frisson between instruments, I just like to be the one in control, not the flute.

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CharlesKoeppen
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PostPosted: 2013-05-08, 23:29    Post subject: Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece? Reply with quote

From the perspective of an old European flute playing perpetual beginner at shakuhachi, and with the stipulation that I already have a good 1.8 for lessons, I'd go for the more interesting sounding non-A440 nobe jinashi as a second (or 3rd or 4th...) shakuhachi. The reason being that I do not like the working joints as they almost always cause some air leakage problems eventually, and for ensemble playing I'm going to want the loud silver flute sound that a good 1.8 jiari for lessons can provide as I doubt anyone is going to hear those beautiful subtle airy sounds you get from jinashi in an ensemble setting anyway.

Of course, if I ever get over this plateau in my skill level (I know..., it doesn't help that I just took a 1 year hiatus in practice for personal reasons) my views might change. But for now, after having culled the shakuhachi that got almost no play time from my collection, I have a nice 1.8 jiari good for lessons, a 2.0 jiari 7-hole, a 1.8 jinashi, a big Taimu (I forget what pitch, I think F#), a nice hocchiku (somewhere around G# I think), and a wooden 1.6. I haven't had the guts to pull any of these out in real ensemble setting where players seem to place more value in how many notes you can play in a given amount of time than anything else, but I love playing along with recordings and it is the jiari that I usually pick up for that purpose.
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Jon Kypros
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PostPosted: 2013-05-17, 23:17    Post subject: Perfect pitch or "Nobe" one-piece? Reply with quote

Thanks everyone I hope others found/find this as useful as I have.
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