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Sideways or Top finger hole shading

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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Posts: 8

PostPosted: 2015-09-02, 13:21    Post subject: Sideways or Top finger hole shading Reply with quote

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Beginner question for the experts:

On the 1.8 shakuhachi, the 2nd hole/5th hole (thumb hole being 1):
To get B or E: John neptune's fingering chart says to half-hole it sideways.

I can do it that way, but I also can do it from the top down instead of sideways especially if I am playing Bb or Eb into B/E, it seems easier to just slide the finger more down right?

What's the official explanation for the correct technique? Is there ever a reason (like transitioning to/fro a particular note) why sideways would be better than top down coverage?
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Kiku Day


Joined: 20 Mar 2011
Posts: 877
Localisation: Nr Snede, DK/London UK

PostPosted: 2015-09-03, 17:51    Post subject: Sideways or Top finger hole shading Reply with quote

Hi meoweth

First of all: The holes of the shakuhachi are counted from the bottom and up, so that the thumb hole is hole 5.
Acrtually I can't figure out which holes you re talking about - sorry. But I can try to explain anyway. I hope it is ok.

To get an E on a 1.8, hole 1 (the bottom one on the front of the instrument) is partially covered and all other holes closed.
To get a Bb on a 1.8, you need to have the 5th hole (thumb hole) fully covered and 4th hole (the top hope on the front) partially covered (quite a lot covered more than the partially coverage for obtaining an E) and hole 1,2 and 3 open.

Which ever way you open the holes really depends on your anatomy - so that means there is no one way to do it. You have to experiment and find he way that suits you the best. However, make sure you do it in a way that doesn't put strain your body. And also one important point is always to open so it is very easy to return to having this hole (in case of E hole 1, and in case of Bb hole 4) fully closed again. I roll my fingers, but it doesn't work for everybody. I cannot recommend to slide the finger as sliding is not a good way for the body to remember how much the finger has to move. Make sure you have as much body (or rather finger) contact with the flute as this will make it easier for your body to do this automatically once you have got used to it.

It is hard to explain in writing without demonstrating it. I hope it helps never-the-less. Smile
Good luck!
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felix martens


Joined: 23 Jun 2013
Posts: 126

PostPosted: 2015-09-06, 15:52    Post subject: Sideways or Top finger hole shading Reply with quote

Hi there, Meoweth! As Kiku says rolling your finger tip from whichever direction suits you best works rather than an unpredictable slide. Rolling allows a kind of fine tuning to your touch.
Also, meri notes are the least of your troubles if you are starting out, and I found them much easier to comprehend and execute once I had the basics, though that's not to say I didn't try, but pleasing results are hard won after long practice.
Enjoy the ride!
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