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#1 2007-10-22 02:07:07

Riley Lee
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From: Manly NSW Australia
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 78
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The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

This is mainly to do with Perry's earlier posting in this topic ("More on Jinashi and Jiari shakuhachi"). I've started a new discussion, as it takes Perry's original posting down a different path.

I find it interesting that no one has commented on the Perry's brief aside, comparing shakuhachi with and without ji, to electric and acoustic guitars, respectively. A minor point? Perhaps, but I think it illustrates a fundamental issue.

Perry's comparison, in my opinion, unfairly suggests that people who appreciate qualities such as 'acoustic', 'natural', 'close to nature', 'original', etc, might find shakuhachi made with ji less appealing than those made without ji.

But more importantly, it suggests a bigger difference between ji nashi flutes and shakuhachi made with ji, than actually exists. The difference between five hole and seven hole shakuhachi, for example, is much greater.

A more accurate comparison would be with acoustic guitars made with and without the application of lacquer, or perhaps with guitars made using different types of wood. Even using an example of acoustic guitars with different strings, eg. nylon vs steel, might be taking the comparison too far.

The conclusion Perry makes from his blowing test supports this; one can usually tell the difference between acoustic and electric guitars, regardless of who is playing them, yet it's often difficult to tell if a flute is ji-nashi or not, just by listening.

Adding ji paste to the bore of a piece of bamboo is not as dramatic as adding an electric pickup onto an acoustic guitar. The whole process of creating and transmitting sound is different with the two types of guitars. This isn't the case with shakuhachi made with or without ji.

Perhaps philosophically, adding ji is a major step (even that is debatable), but in terms of how the sound is actually produced, very little changes. One type may rely slightly more on chance/nature, the other a bit more on human manipulation.

REMEMBER:  ji-nashi flutes are also highly modified pieces of bamboo.

Both types, all types, of shakuhachi have been manipulated in many ways in order to affect the production of sound. Knocking out the inside membrane of the bamboo at the joints and at the root end, filing and/or sanding out bits of the bamboo wall, cutting a blowing edge at a particular angle, adding ji or lacquer, etc, are all extreme, 'unnatural' modifications to the bamboo, relatively speaking.

It's probably quite evident by now, that I question how much importance one can/should place on the difference between ji nashi flutes and those with ji. Like Perry, I like both types. I don't however, see the need to differentiate between the two.

If a player is after a good ji-nashi sound, then a flute that plays well, or more precisely, one that plays with that wonderful earthy, complex, wabi/sabi 'ji nashi' quality, is a good 'ji-nashi' flute, regardless of the addition or lack of ji.

For example, I have one flute that are totally ji nashi and another with a couple of blobs of ji. The latter sounds much more 'ji nashi' to me than the former. If I did the "record, listen and compare" test with these two flutes, like Perry did with his flutes, I think the one with ji would be chosen as the 'ji nashi' flute every time. It has more of the desirable 'ji-nashi' qualities. If that is the case, then which is the better 'ji nashi' flute?

Much more important than the issue of ji or no ji in the bore, is the quality of the part of the shakuhachi instrument that exists above the blowing edge.

Which is the better instrument, a cheap PVC shakuhachi being played, for example, by Yokoyama or Aoki Reibo or Yamaguchi Goro or Watazumi, in their prime, or anyone's 'best' shakuhachi, whatever the criteria, cost or method of construction, being played by most of us Forum subscribers?

The best shakuhachi instrument at any given moment is ALWAYS the one being played by the best shakuhachi player at that moment, however you define 'best'. Please quote me on that! (BTW, this may not apply to collectors of instruments.)

None of this, of course, in any way diminishes the role of shakuhachi makers, and the interest and importance of much of the discussion in this "ji-nashi" topic. Without makers, none of the topics in this forum, none of the music, nothing to do with the shakuhachi would exist. And, like everyone reading this, I have my preferences. I am forever indebted to those makers who have put in the time, energy, intuition and skills needed to accommodate those preferences.

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#2 2007-10-22 11:10:24

philthefluter
Member
From: Dublin, Ireland
Registered: 2006-06-02
Posts: 190
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Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Riley has raised some interesting points. Definition of jinashi verses jiari often miss the main issues: aspect ratio (the relationship between length and bore diameter explained in detail on http://www.navaching.com, the purpose of blowing (zen verses playing tunes) and the relationship between the player and the bamboo (or whatever material).

I have made several shakuhachi which has the nodal areas completely sanded away in the bore. The timbre is closer to that of a jiari shakuhachi but they have no lacquer.

Another crucial element is the relationship between the player and the maker. This has changed radically in recent years with the availabilty of email and sending photos and mp3 samples. Makers may adjust their approach based on feedback from the person who has commissioned the shakuhachi. Is this the cause of so much debate over different types of shakuhachi?


"The bamboo and Zen are One!" Kurosawa Kinko
http://www.shakuhachizen.com/
http://www.myspace.com/shakuhachizen

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#3 2007-10-22 14:19:16

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Riley Lee wrote:

I find it interesting that no one has commented on the Perry's brief aside, comparing shakuhachi with and without ji, to electric and acoustic guitars, respectively. A minor point? Perhaps, but I think it illustrates a fundamental issue.

I thought Perry's analogy to of jiari/jinashi shakuhachi to electric/acoustic guitar was too severe too. I can't think of a really good analogy. Staying within the flute world, baroque/silver flute or any other kind of analogy I can think of is still too severe. I almost always end up thinking of two similar, but different, instruments that are used for differerent kinds of music. That's not much different than the guitar analogies with electric/acoustic, steel-string/nylon-string.  Those are really different instruments used for radically different kinds of music, Hendrix inspired rock is a world different than Dylan inspired folk and both are a world different than classical music played on a nylon string guitar.
However, the laquered/non-laquered acoustic guitar analogy doesn't seem severe enough because not only would most listeners not be able to tell the difference, but neither would the players. Jiari/jinashi shakuhachi is different because, as Perry pointed out, the feel is much different but the repertoire you can play isn't much different and even the resulting sound is very similar.

BTW, I liked the sound of Perry's jinashi better. I find that interesting because of the flutes I own, I really like the jiari's sound best. It gets the least play though because I like the longer flutes better. Maybe a long vs. traditional 1.8 discussion would be easier to understand. This jinashi/jiari discussion, while interesting, seems to be almost as esoteric as a discussion about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin...


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#4 2007-10-22 16:47:50

Kabato
Member
From: New York City
Registered: 2007-02-26
Posts: 28

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Perhaps an acoustic guitar with steel vs. nylon strings is a closer depiction? Hit a nylon string hard and you can come close to a metal string sound, hit a metal string softly and you can come close to a nylon string sound. Ultimately the sound you get is based on how you use what you have and what sound you have in mind.


If you say that you do not need to fan yourself because the nature of wind is permanent and you can have wind without fanning, you will understand neither permanence nor the nature of wind. The nature of wind is permanent; because of that, the wind of the buddha's house brings for the gold of the earth and makes fragrant the cream of the long river.

-Eihei Dogen, Genjokoan

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#5 2007-10-22 17:14:03

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3204
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Thanks Riley for starting this provocative topic.

We are floating in heavy philosophical waters here and muddy musical waters! smile Therefore I am going to throw out a lot of disconnected ideas.

There are all sorts of ways to look at instruments. Makers obviously focus in on tiny details, the divergent evolution of which give us they myriad of instruments available to modern man. Otherwise we'd all be banging on logs and blowing conch shells.

There may be a lot more difference between a Stratocaster and a Ramirez than between a jiari Shiro and a jinashi one. I think Perry just meant to say that some people prefer one version of any instrument over another.

I am a multi-instrumentalist to an extreme and people always ask me, "How do you do it?" My answer is, "Because they're all the same." That's another way of looking at it.

However I don't really think all instruments are the same, I think shakuhachi stands apart. So does pipe organ. Otherwise they are all the same. wink

I totally agree with Riley that jiari and jinashi shakuhachi are the same instrument. This is obvious because ALL shakuhachi were jinashi until a little over a hundred years ago. So the idea that ji ari are shakuhachi and ji nashi are something else is silly.

Watazumi disagreed however, he said shakuhachi was an instrument suited for playing a vast range of music whereas hottchiku (his name for the jinashi he played) were only good for expressing two emotions, energy and stillness.

In shakuhachi we have the saying "Ichi-on Jobutsu" which is usually translated as "enlightenment in a single sound" or "one sound, enlightenment". I don't speak Japanese so I don't know exactly what the connotation of that "sound" is, if it's a specific thing.

Using words to discuss music is somewhat problematic because the same words mean different things to different people. So I'll tell you what certain words mean to me.

Sound=the entirety of what you hear.
Note=a dot on a staff
Pitch=rate of vibration of that note
Tone=timbre, the way it sounds to the ear.

But I'm a musical illiterate so maybe I'm wrong about that.

Anyway when I think of "Ichion Jobutsu" I don't think of a note or a pitch, I think more of sound and tone. I'm always looking for the best tone.

Which brings us to another philosophical point about shakuhachi or indeed about any musical instrument. Are they note making machines, or are they sound making machines? Obviously the answer is "both", but all musicians lean one way or the other when choosing or evaluating instruments.

For example you can play Franck's Grand Piece Symphonique on a Farfisa transistor organ, or you can play it on the best pipe organ in the world. If all you care about is notes, the Farfisa is equal to the pipe organ. If you care about tone, pipe organ wins every time. But to paraphrase Riley, to hear Franck play it on a Farfisa would still be better than to hear Elton John play it on the pipe organ. Probably. smile

All of these discussions about the merits of ji nashi, ji ari, ji mori, wood, cast bore, plastic shakuhachi center upon a. how well they produce the notes, b. desireability of the tone and sometimes c. philosophical issues unrelated to what we hear.

OK now I'm getting long winded, so without further ado I will describe my experience with the different kinds of flutes. First here's how I divide them. "Good and bad!"

Or to get technical:

Jinashi: no ji in the bore, may or may not have urushi in the bore.
Ji Mori: basically ji nashi but with a few dabs of ji for tuning.
Ji Ari: bore is entirely filled with ji
Other: Cast bore, wood, plastic, seaweed, steel, glass, etc.

Jinashi fundamentalists may differentiate between ji nashi and ji mori but I see them as serving the same purpose. To me ji ari is different because you are not blowing into bamboo mainly, it's ji you are activating.

The following are my opinions based upon my own experiences and preferences. These opinions apply to flutes I own and others I have played and are not intended as commentary upon generic or universal shakuhachi.

I agree with Riley that ji nashi and ji ari shakuhachi both fall under the same umbrella and are basically the same thing. I understand that some people have philosophical ideas about jinashi or jiari and I respect them, but for my purposes as a musician I don't really care. I would play a shakuhachi made out of petrified tofu if I thought it accomplished my goals.

I started out as a conventional Kinko/Jin Nyodo player therefore spent my formative years playing ji ari 1.8. I started collecting shakuhachi but didn't choose based on ji ari or ji nashi, just whether or not I liked the flutes. However as I picked up more flutes and got rid of others I found that the ones I liked and played most often were ji nashi.

1.8 is the most important length and there are a lot of great ji ari and ji nashi flutes in that length. 1.8 and shorter most of the best flutes are ji ari probably for the reason that as you go shorter the tolerances in construction are much more fine and that lends itself to ji ari making because of the amount of control that gives you over the bore. Still my 2 best 1.8's and best 1.6 are jinashi, but those are also made by three of the best makers of all time, Araki Kodo 2, Yamaguchi Shiro and Okubo Kodo.

Beyond 1.8 all of my favorite shakuhachi are jinashi. Why is this? I think one of the main factors is that there is a lot wider range in jinashi. Most or maybe all ji ari flutes fall within a limited bore profile and aspect ratio. I like large bore flutes and they don't make those in ji ari. Ji nashi shakuhachi on the other hand range from thin bore to amazingly wide bores. Why do I like wide bore flutes? Many reasons but to simplify there are two main reasons. One, tone. The tone on a wide bore flute emphasises the lower harmonics and subharmonics more, this is an acoustical fact. I find that enticing and pleasing to my ear, maybe because I spent so much time playing bass over the years. The other reason I like wide bore is the feeling I get from playing them which is subjective and can't be quantified.

There are quality shakuhachi made in lengths of 2.4 and shorter in both ji nashi and ji ari but I've never seen any ji ari longer than 2.4 that I thought came close to the quality of good ji nashi long flutes. This is borne out by the fact that almost everybody who plays long shakuhachi uses ji nashi or ji mori. Another reason for this is that ji is heavier than bamboo and it's prohibitive in terms of weight to make a full ji ari 3.2 for example, even if there was a musical reason for it. Besides that, the longer you go the easier as a maker it is to get a flute to play in tune using subtractive methods only.

So to summarize I think that in 2.4 and shorter (particularly 2.0 and shorter) they're all shakuhachi and you choose based on how the flute works for you and what kind of music you want to play. But if you're playing long flutes, or if you prefer wide bore you kind of have to go ji nashi or ji mori because the selection is much better.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#6 2007-10-22 18:59:20

philthefluter
Member
From: Dublin, Ireland
Registered: 2006-06-02
Posts: 190
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Forgive me for starting another thread in this fascinating discussion.... Certain instruments are made for certain pieces. I always like to play Honshirabe on the first shakuhachi I made-a very basic attempt at construction before any instruction or internet information. It was a huge challenge to make and I like playing honshirabe to be a challenge. It is jinashi with burnt-out holes and feels like the wind blowing over the mountainside I rescued it from. Some of my shakuhachi can play a wide variety of repertoire, others proved themselves to be perfect for only one honkyoku.  The shakuhachi in my avatar is my Kyorei flute and has a timbre so sweet, I can bathe in its' long tones....


"The bamboo and Zen are One!" Kurosawa Kinko
http://www.shakuhachizen.com/
http://www.myspace.com/shakuhachizen

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#7 2007-10-22 19:07:40

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3204
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Totally agree Phil and one problem a lot of beginners and some advanced players have is looking for the special flute that plays everything equally well. It doesn't exist. Ideally you'd have one shakuhachi for every honkyoku you do. Gaikyoku is different because for that it's good to have one 1.8 that you know very well and can execute the phrases consistently.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#8 2007-10-22 19:24:19

Lorka
Member
Registered: 2007-02-27
Posts: 303

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Thank you Riley and others for this very interesting thread.

I have found some of the opinions expressed to be very thought provoking and helpful as I struggle in the early infancy of my shakuhachi playing/perception. 

Brian, in your post you mentioned (as you have done so elsewhere) that you are attracted to large widebore instruments, due mostly to the big enveloping tone.  I hope I did not misunderstand.  I have a similar interest in the deep sounds of widebore flutes, and after reading of the whole jiari, jinashi debate, I was wondering how come you dont see big widebore jiari.  Is such a flute possible?  Seems to me that there might be a lot of people that would like that sort of thing.  I dunno.  Maybe its a stupid notion.  I certainly do not speak with the voice of wisdom, or experience.  There is something really nice about big chunky beast sized widebore flutes with their deep, mythic sound.  That new 2.8 black looking one on Ken's site looks particularly nice.   

On unrelated news.  I finally "got" what the foghorn quality was that lots of people have talked about.  I have been practising on my giant bore 3.0 from Perry (which I find quite difficult, but worth it), and while I was trying to play in Kari (which I find unnatural still), I got the booming foghorn.  Actually it sort of startled/slapped me.  It is quite a satisfying sound.  The foghorn Ro sort of wraps itself around you.  Is it me, or does the kari blowing position produce a note that is louder than other positions?  Probably it's just me.   sorry for the off-topic aside.


Gravity is the root of grace

~ Lao Tzu~

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#9 2007-10-22 19:39:52

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3204
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Lorka wrote:

Brian, in your post you mentioned (as you have done so elsewhere) that you are attracted to large widebore instruments, due mostly to the big enveloping tone.  I hope I did not misunderstand.  I have a similar interest in the deep sounds of widebore flutes, and after reading of the whole jiari, jinashi debate, I was wondering how come you dont see big widebore jiari.  Is such a flute possible?  Seems to me that there might be a lot of people that would like that sort of thing.  I dunno.  Maybe its a stupid notion.  I certainly do not speak with the voice of wisdom, or experience.  There is something really nice about big chunky beast sized widebore flutes with their deep, mythic sound.  That new 2.8 black looking one on Ken's site looks particularly nice.   

On unrelated news.  I finally "got" what the foghorn quality was that lots of people have talked about.  I have been practising on my giant bore 3.0 from Perry (which I find quite difficult, but worth it), and while I was trying to play in Kari (which I find unnatural still), I got the booming foghorn.  Actually it sort of startled/slapped me.  It is quite a satisfying sound.  The foghorn Ro sort of wraps itself around you.  Is it me, or does the kari blowing position produce a note that is louder than other positions?  Probably it's just me.   sorry for the off-topic aside.

You don't see wide bore jiari for several reasons. Ji ari flutes were mainly developed to meet the demands of the gaikyoku/sankyoku of the Kinko and Tozan schools of shakuhachi. Not for solo honkyoku, although many people use them for that now. Wide bore shakuhachi are good for honkyoku but average or thin bore are better for gaikyoku. They have a quicker response and more even tone between octaves. So there was no musical need. The makers working for those ryu are conventional and stick to the norms.

Another reason as I mentioned earlier is the weight factor. When we were developing Taimu we experimented with both ji ari and cast bore versions as well with some success but the jinashi and ji mori versions were still best.

About the foghorn sound I'd have to see the flute and the way you're playing to be sure but definitely playing a little bit kari is the way you bring out more of the fundamental, therefore you might get the foghorn sound that way.

The black 2.8 is quite a beast and a challenge to play. You can see/hear it on youtube if you search "Tairaku" or "Taimu". I like it but I'm giving others a chance to get it before I snatch it from Ken!


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#10 2007-10-23 04:13:19

dstone
Member
From: Vancouver, Canada
Registered: 2006-01-11
Posts: 552
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Lorka wrote:

I was wondering how come you dont see big widebore jiari.  Is such a flute possible?  Seems to me that there might be a lot of people that would like that sort of thing.

"Wide" jiari like bad-ass hocchiku wide?  Probably not, for the reasons Brian gives.

But "wider" than average jiari?  For sure.  Look for them.  Enlist the help of one of the pros on the forum and if that's what you're looking for, they might be able to help you locate one.  I found what I was looking for in a jiari with slightly wider than average bore, larger finger holes, larger top opening, etc.  I'd only played jinashi flutes with longer, wider bores previous to this so I was pandering a bit to a stubborn, half-baked, naive preferences.  And I'm glad I did!

Lorka wrote:

I dunno.  Maybe its a stupid notion.

No notion is stupid if it makes you want to play more or even if it leads you on a rich and meandering wild flute hunt.  Give 'er!

-Darren.


When it is rainy, I am in the rain. When it is windy, I am in the wind.  - Mitsuo Aida

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#11 2007-10-23 06:59:36

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3204
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

dstone wrote:

Lorka wrote:

I was wondering how come you dont see big widebore jiari.  Is such a flute possible?  Seems to me that there might be a lot of people that would like that sort of thing.

"Wide" jiari like bad-ass hocchiku wide?  Probably not, for the reasons Brian gives.

But "wider" than average jiari?  For sure.  Look for them.  Enlist the help of one of the pros on the forum and if that's what you're looking for, they might be able to help you locate one.  I found what I was looking for in a jiari with slightly wider than average bore, larger finger holes, larger top opening, etc.  I'd only played jinashi flutes with longer, wider bores previous to this so I was pandering a bit to a stubborn, half-baked, naive preferences.  And I'm glad I did!

Lorka wrote:

I dunno.  Maybe its a stupid notion.

No notion is stupid if it makes you want to play more or even if it leads you on a rich and meandering wild flute hunt.  Give 'er!

-Darren.

Um, I guess I know what Darren is talking about because I am the one who got him the flute he refers to smile.

In the 20's and 30's some makers mainly in the Kansai made larger than average ji ari shakuhachi and those still exist. If anyone is interested I might be able to find one for you.

Some of these makers moved to Tokyo and when they did started to make thinner bored shakuhachi to meet the demands of the Tokyo players. It's interesting how regional and local preferences of 80 years ago still have a ripple affect on current shakuhachi thinking.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#12 2007-10-23 19:55:07

Harazda
Member
Registered: 2007-06-07
Posts: 126

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

"But I'm a musical illiterate so I may be wrong about that." - Tairaku

Ah, It's so nice to see you say that; guys like us have it made, eh?

-Harazda

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#13 2007-10-25 11:56:07

Yungflutes
Flutemaker/Performer
From: New York City
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 1040
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Hi Riley and everyone, Thanks for taking this entry further.

Riley Lee wrote:

This is mainly to do with Perry's earlier posting in this topic ("More on Jinashi and Jiari shakuhachi"). I've started a new discussion, as it takes Perry's original posting down a different path.

I find it interesting that no one has commented on the Perry's brief aside, comparing shakuhachi with and without ji, to electric and acoustic guitars, respectively. A minor point? Perhaps, but I think it illustrates a fundamental issue.

Perry's comparison, in my opinion, unfairly suggests that people who appreciate qualities such as 'acoustic', 'natural', 'close to nature', 'original', etc, might find shakuhachi made with ji less appealing than those made without ji.

But more importantly, it suggests a bigger difference between ji nashi flutes and shakuhachi made with ji, than actually exists. The difference between five hole and seven hole shakuhachi, for example, is much greater.

A more accurate comparison would be with acoustic guitars made with and without the application of lacquer, or perhaps with guitars made using different types of wood. Even using an example of acoustic guitars with different strings, eg. nylon vs steel, might be taking the comparison too far.

As Nyokai just pointed out on another thread, factual information may be best here.

Here is a photo of some flutes I have around. They have been with me for a while but will probably leave me soon. Many have come through my shop from a myriads of ways. I am very grateful that I the opportunity to play such flutes and I take every chance to examine each one as I learn from all of them.

http://www.yungflutes.com/logphotos/shakuhachitimeline.jpg

They are numbered 1-4 from top to bottom for discussion:

#1) Maker unknown. Jinashi over 100 years ago. It has a Myoan utaguchi horn inlay and urushi lacquer to seal the completely natural shaped bore. Outer Diameter - 1 1/4",  262 grams in weight.
#2) Maker unknown. Ji mori (with a little ji here and there) about 80 - 100 years old. Myoan utaguchi. OD - 1 5/16", 326 grams.
#3) YUNG. Jiari, October 2007. Sogawa horn utaguchi. OD - 1 5/16" - 383 grams.
#4) Seikedo . Jiari, 30 - 40 years old. Tozan Horn utaguchi. OD  - 1 1/38" - 516 grams.

The weight of a blank, dried piece of bamboo is rather light, especially when the root is drilled out. Even if one piece is slightly bigger than the other, there is minimal weight difference. As you can see, the weight #1 to #4 nearly doubled (most modern jiari flutes weight around 460 - 490 grams). Some modern flutes made from other materials are the heaviest weighing over over 530 grams.

I made my original guitar analogy because it was close to me. I've played the guitar for over 30 years have also worked on them. My analogy was coming from the perspective of a maker of a musical instrument. It was not intended to suggest one is more natural than the other. I personally prefer to play the best instrument around for the moment as opposed to whether it's Jinashi or Jiari (besides, regardless of the kind of instrument, I think there are few things in this world more natural than making music smile)  I welcome suggestions on a better analogy as I have to explain the difference often.

None of this, of course, in any way diminishes the role of shakuhachi makers, and the interest and importance of much of the discussion in this "ji-nashi" topic. Without makers, none of the topics in this forum, none of the music, nothing to do with the shakuhachi would exist. And, like everyone reading this, I have my preferences. I am forever indebted to those makers who have put in the time, energy, intuition and skills needed to accommodate those preferences.

And we also are indebted to the great players who demand instruments that meet their needs.

Taikaku wrote:

There are all sorts of ways to look at instruments. Makers obviously focus in on tiny details, the divergent evolution of which give us they myriad of instruments available to modern man. Otherwise we'd all be banging on logs and blowing conch shells.

I prefer a hollowed out log over a solid one smile

Namaste, Perry


"A hot dog is not an animal." - Jet Yung

My Blog/Website on the art of shakuhachi...and parenting.
How to make an Urban Shakuhachi (PVC)

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#14 2007-11-10 13:41:03

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 917
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Hi Riley and everybody else, who participated in this interesting discussion.

Sorry, the ji-nashi moderator has been a bit out of touch with a flu, pneumonia, moving back from Japan to UK, and then from UK to Denmark. Things should have calmed more down now. smile
I read Riley's post while recovering from pneumonia and moving to Denmark. I had a long think about whether or not to catch the ball Riley had thrown up in the air. As no-one else has really given in an opposition to this strong post, I have decided to give it a try. The aim of this post is therefore only to create a healthy debate about the differences between ji-nashi and ji-nuri shakuhachi. This is in no way a personal post -apart from the opinions I express, which are all my personal opinions - and no-one else's. I hope we can continue having a good and balanced discussion with participation from both or all fields within shakuhachi.

Riley Lee wrote:

it suggests a bigger difference between ji nashi flutes and shakuhachi made with ji, than actually exists. The difference between five hole and seven hole shakuhachi, for example, is much greater.

Riley, I think that really depends on who you are, and what kind of things you are listening for.
To me, the ji added is a major difference.
To me, adding 2 holes is as much of a change as adding ji, but not in particular more.
To me, the ji changes the shakuhachi into a whole new instrument.

Perhaps the 7 hole shakuhachi can be regarded as more different from a ji-nashi than a ji-nuri because of the fact, that you can SEE the difference. The changes from ji-nashi to ji-nuri are not as visible as the 17 or 21 stringed koto... or like the bass-shamisen, that was so huge that not many could play it.

I do not think anyone is an authority to tell others which changes are greater than others. To me, the presence of ji makes a world of difference. And I am not alone in that opinion. You have quoted from Dr. Simura Satosi's excellent book, kokanshakuhachi no gakkigaku (古管尺八の楽器学). His conclusion in this book is that there are two different worlds in the realm of shakuhachi: The ji-nashi shakuhachi world and the ji-nuri shakuhachi world. Also Dr. Simura believes the difference between these two instruments is big.

Riley Lee wrote:

A more accurate comparison would be with acoustic guitars made with and without the application of lacquer, or perhaps with guitars made using different types of wood. Even using an example of acoustic guitars with different strings, eg. nylon vs steel, might be taking the comparison too far.

'Accurate' is a big word here. To me, what electricity does to the guitar, can very well be compared to what the ji does to the shakuhachi.
In any case, I think again everybody has a very different feel regarding the difference between ji-nashi and ji-nuri, and everyone has a different feel regarding just HOW big that difference is. I believe we have different aesthetics and preferences of what we find important in sound. Is it a 'purer' strong note, the presence of noise and overtones we are attracted to, or how easy the instrument plays? Or something totally different? I therefore think there is no more 'accurate' way of making comparisons. We can disagree because we have different aesthetics... but in aesthetics, no-one's ears are more accurate than any other person's - in my opinion, and one can makes many different comparisons to express the very personal aesthetic.

Riley Lee wrote:

The conclusion Perry makes from his blowing test supports this; one can usually tell the difference between acoustic and electric guitars, regardless of who is playing them, yet it's often difficult to tell if a flute is ji-nashi or not, just by listening.

Well, live, I have so far been able to tell the difference. I will not say I can't be wrong, I probably can and will be in the future. I think there is a very big difference, a world of difference - just in the sound. At times, it can be difficult to hear the difference on recordings - especially if it is highly compressed, which I believe Perry's recording was indeed.

Riley Lee wrote:

Perhaps philosophically, adding ji is a major step (even that is debatable), but in terms of how the sound is actually produced, very little changes. One type may rely slightly more on chance/nature, the other a bit more on human manipulation.
REMEMBER:  ji-nashi flutes are also highly modified pieces of bamboo.

The electric guitar player still makes chords with his/her left hand (unless he is playing guitars for left-handed people) and pressing down on the strings with his/her right hand. So, there is not such a major steps in how we physically produce the sound there either. It is true that the electricity is either present or not. But the electricity reacts on what is strung - like the ji resonating in ji-nuri. There is only bamboo resonating in ji-nashi - like the wood in an acoustic guitar.

Riley Lee wrote:

It's probably quite evident by now, that I question how much importance one can/should place on the difference between ji nashi flutes and those with ji. Like Perry, I like both types. I don't however, see the need to differentiate between the two.

I beg to disagree, as I see a huge reason to differentiate between the two!

I would, personally, never be a player of ji-nuri shakuhachi. Had I only encountered ji-nuri shakuhachi when I went to Japan to study shakuhachi in 1987, I would have returned to the conservatory in Copenhagen playing traverse flute. So, again... for some people it makes a HUGE of difference. I like both types of shakuhachi flutes... just like I like both types of guitars. But I will never play the guitar (electric or acoustic) nor the ji-nuri shakuhachi. This is obviously just my own preference. This is not to say that neither the ji-nuri shakuhachi nor the guitars should not be respected as wonderful instruments. Wonderful music is played on all these instruments by highly skilled players. This is to say that some of us have ears where the difference between ji-nashi and ji-nuri is crucial, hence the need for us to differentiate! For us, the difference is so big that playing the other would not be possible nor desirable.

Riley Lee wrote:

If a player is after a good ji-nashi sound, then a flute that plays well, or more precisely, one that plays with that wonderful earthy, complex, wabi/sabi 'ji nashi' quality, is a good 'ji-nashi' flute, regardless of the addition or lack of ji.
For example, I have one flute that are totally ji nashi and another with a couple of blobs of ji. The latter sounds much more 'ji nashi' to me than the former. If I did the "record, listen and compare" test with these two flutes, like Perry did with his flutes, I think the one with ji would be chosen as the 'ji nashi' flute every time. It has more of the desirable 'ji-nashi' qualities. If that is the case, then which is the better 'ji nashi' flute?

Well, the one with ji is NOT a ji-nashi, but a wonderful ji-mori shakuhachi. That is an organological fact! Your ji-mori probably is a wonderful ji-mori that plays a fantastic ji-mori sound.

Perhaps your perception of, what a ji-nashi sound is, is constructed... just as much as Perry's belief that ji-nashi is more suited for people, who like natural things or nature, is a construction... What IS the sound of a ji-nashi? It is indeed VERY varied depending on the bamboo, utaguchi, and the milliards of things that can have been done to the bore. Thus there is not ONE ji-nashi sound. Believing there is one type of sound, that can be characterised as a ji-nashi sound may be the problem.

Riley Lee wrote:

that wonderful earthy, complex, wabi/sabi 'ji nashi' quality

Can't ji-nuri have an earthy, complex, wabi/sabi sound?
I think they can... just different...

Riley Lee wrote:

Much more important than the issue of ji or no ji in the bore, is the quality of the part of the shakuhachi instrument that exists above the blowing edge.
Which is the better instrument, a cheap PVC shakuhachi being played, for example, by Yokoyama or Aoki Reibo or Yamaguchi Goro or Watazumi, in their prime, or anyone's 'best' shakuhachi, whatever the criteria, cost or method of construction, being played by most of us Forum subscribers?
The best shakuhachi instrument at any given moment is ALWAYS the one being played by the best shakuhachi player at that moment, however you define 'best'. Please quote me on that! (BTW, this may not apply to collectors of instruments.)

Yokoyama Katsuya says the instrument is more than 90% of the whole thing. If you don't have a good instrument... you can do nothing as a good player. Dr. Simura Satosi told me, Yokoyama told him this. The reason Dr Simura told me this story is, that he thought for one particular piece, I needed a better instrument than the one had. To me, the best instrument that suits YOUR needs is the best. That included what YOU find most important.  Also, what makes the BEST player and who is the Best player, is highly individual too. We, of course, all share certain criteria, which we would consider to be common... but I think we may stray wildly apart when it comes to what and who is best for ME, YOU and someone else!

Riley, I think by reading my answer, that it is evident, I do not agree with you. I think the shakuhachi have so many branches out there, that no one aesthetics can be put upon us as the all-mighty truth. My truth is different to yours, and yours is different to someone else's truth. We do not share one single value. However, it is the existence of many values that makes being a shakuhachi enthusiast so very exciting... as long as we can accept that our own values are not and do not need to be everybody's values.

In this forum, there is space for all opinions to be heard, even if we disagree with each other. That is what makes this forum wonderful.
Thank you, Riley for throwing an interesting ball up the air. I am sure it made many people think deeper about the ji-nashi/ji-nuri discussion.

Blow in peace,
Kiku x


I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music
Hafiz

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#15 2007-11-10 23:06:12

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.



If we continue to think any deeper on this estimable subject, we are likely to fall into
a dark and bottomless hole.

Perhaps we already have.



eB


Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkes.

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#16 2007-11-11 01:02:44

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3204
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

edosan wrote:



If we continue to think any deeper on this estimable subject, we are likely to fall into
a dark and bottomless hole.

Perhaps we already have.



eB

It's OK Ed, this is a forum. Discussing things like this helps people clarify their ideas on the subject.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#17 2007-11-11 10:58:05

Yungflutes
Flutemaker/Performer
From: New York City
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 1040
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Hi All,

Kiku and Riley, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Contributions from longtime players help everyone think about the individual's journey.

Kiku, I would like to make a correction though:

Kiku Day wrote:

... just as much as Perry's belief that ji-nashi is more suited for people, who like natural things or nature, is a construction...

My original posting on my blog never mentioned anything about nature nor did it suggest that Jinashi was more natural over jiari. It was written to share my discovery that I can play two different styles of flute and sound the same. That came about playing the flutes in a room alone. I made the recording to check my own ears. To reiterate, I love playing all styles of the flutes and will choose the one best for the moment regardless of whether it is natural bore, partially filled or entirely paste-filled.


Tairaku wrote:

edosan wrote:



If we continue to think any deeper on this estimable subject, we are likely to fall into
a dark and bottomless hole.

Perhaps we already have.



eB

It's OK Ed, this is a forum. Discussing things like this helps people clarify their ideas on the subject.

I'll try another analogy smile When I was a visual artist and going through critiques, I would be engaged in all sorts of arguments about art. A professor usually sorts out an argument by identifying what criteria the judgment is being made from. Would it be fair for a representation painter to talk about perspective in composition when critiquing the work of an abstract painter?  There are lot's of ways to make a painting, even painters of the same school will argue.  Among the Abstact Expressionists, for example, Jackson Pollock may say that Franz Kline does not cover enough canvas. Mark Rothko might say that Pollock seems a little busy. Or, Helen Frankenthaler might say, why do these men have to paint such huge canvases?

Like art, shakuhachi playing is enormously heart felt - the relationship is entirely unique to each individual. I often think about the Komuso and what they must have felt about their own flutes. Before there were teacher/makers. They must have made their own. In their world of impermanence, how much did their flute matter?

Namaste, Perry


"A hot dog is not an animal." - Jet Yung

My Blog/Website on the art of shakuhachi...and parenting.
How to make an Urban Shakuhachi (PVC)

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#18 2007-11-11 12:07:04

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 401
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

So many good points made here. Brian's right too. Since it's a forum. Kiku-san is commenting on how shakuhachi found a place in her life. Stating "this is me and this is the way shakuhachi is part of my life" is part of a big personal process. The forum is one good place to do that and make things clear. People have different sensitivities and talents.

     There are several perspectives on the ji ari ji nashi thing. As for myself, I look for what the flute can do and if I need that kind of flute, I'll use it, as long as it's not too heavy and really loaded with Ji. That's just a personal preference. But from that perspective, I can go 'beyond' the does it have ji or not thing because I play different flutes for different reasons. In shorter flutes I definitley want some ji and the longer they get the less I want it. I really like the jimori stuff for the long ones. Again, personal preference. However, another perspective on this though is that if you don't try to bring out the differences and you play all shakuhachi with the same embouchure and blowing style, then you won't see the differences as well. And you won't find the life of that flute. I think a bit of what Perry discovered by blowing different flutes in the same room is that the room is the same. So the room or space has the tendency to standardize sound since you're are mostly hearing the how the room reflects the sound. Although discussion about this kind of thing should be in the techniques section, I think embouchure is equally important as ji nashi ji ari. Some people have an embouchure built up to a point where they can produce amazing  (and functional) sounds. However, every embouchure has it limits. They are the mouth pieces of the shakuhachi. You reach a certain point with each one and you find the pinnacle of what that lip formation can do. There are tight embouchures and loose ones and etc. etc. Developing different ways to blow a flute enables one produce different sounds. Of course, certain songs demand that one does this and some don't. For songs that do, after developing these you have to practice switching from one to another quickly. Like taking off one mouthpiece and putting on another on the fly during a riff. Some people never do this kind of training, and that's fine, of course. But, being sensitive to "DIFFERENCES" and bringing them out by pushing them to their "EXTREMES" is important. For example, some people don't see the difference in using the #1 or #2 hole in articulating (repeating) Ro. That's because they play them with the same sensitivities and don't make it an objective of their practice to find the difference in these and bring them out. There are a zillion examples of this kind of thing.

    Like I said, maybe this should be continued in the technique section and I would enjoy participation in such a discussion. But to illustrate my point, I would comment a bit on words from Yokoyama-sensei. What he says in general about needing a "good" shakuhachi or the shakuhachi is 90% of it is a big and true GENERAL statement, for sure. But, from the not so general perspective, what the "good" meant to him depended on what he wanted the flute to do for him. In other words, there's also a relative aspect to the definition of "good" since he is just one player. As a player, he was, for the most part, one who didn't adapt his blowing style to the flute, rather, he made the flute adapt to him. If the flute didn't suit his blowing style he either changed the flute, or it was deemed to be no good TO HIM. This is natural. Case in point, his father's flutes which didn't really suit him, he didn't adapt to them and the end result was he didn't play them.

Last edited by chikuzen (2007-11-11 14:18:23)


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#19 2007-11-12 05:52:04

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 917
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Hello Chikuzen.

Great post.
It is true about the embouchure differences. Also the utaguchi has changed quite a bit from the Edo period to the shakuhachi of today. This, of course, requires a different type of embouchure, and to some degree blowing technique.
I agree that taking your training, as you talk about, to the extremes is very interesting. I have, in the process of making shakuhachi, stopped working on them in order to play them for a while before I would decide what kind of work was still necessary to do. I adapted my blowing and playing techniques so much to some of them, that I kept them as they were... unfinished. I found that to be a very interesting test on how much I could change my playing style to adapt to the flute.

To me, there is something essential about that in my approach to ji-nashi shakuhachi playing - to which degree can I change to make this piece of bamboo sound (ji-nashi only being mentioned here because that is what I play).

Yes, let's take this discussion over to the technique section. Actually, I would very much like to hear about your work on this. Working with shakuhachi this way is very esoteric, I find... and very interesting.

And to Perry. Sorry about the misunderstanding about the original post. I should have tried to find it in your blog, but that was just how I understood it through Riley's text.


I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music
Hafiz

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#20 2007-11-12 10:28:57

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Kiku Day wrote:

Well, live, I have so far been able to tell the difference. I will not say I can't be wrong, I probably can and will be in the future. I think there is a very big difference, a world of difference - just in the sound. At times, it can be difficult to hear the difference on recordings - especially if it is highly compressed, which I believe Perry's recording was indeed.

I was able to tell the difference in the compressed recording. Maybe I'm getting a bit hung up on the electric/acoustic guitar analogy, but even if you think the difference in sound between jinashi and jiari is very big, I still can't see how it can be reasonably compared to the difference between the two types of guitars. Before electric guitars it was impracticle to play them with loud instruments, the ability to play loud not only allowed introducing guitar to current musical genres like big bands, but entire new genre of music were created revolving around the new instrument. They also offered the ability to sustain notes much longer and to bend pitches in ways that wasn't possible before. This is all in addition to the concept of playing the music at one location in a room and having the sound possibly come out of a device many feet away from where the player is located.

I'll concede that maybe I'm just not sensitive enough to perceive the "world" of difference between jinashi and jiari, but it really seems to me that even if I was, it has to be a much, much smaller world than the difference between electric and acoustic guitar.

And I hate to muddy up this topic even more, but where does the Yuu fall into this? Obviously not jinashi, but is it close to jiari, or is plastic another world of difference in itself? How does it differ from wood??? And, BTW, I've tried several times to get an answer to the question about how good the Yuu is (it sure sounds good when Chikuzen plays it). Is it the equivalent of a flute that would normally sell for $3000, $2000, $1000, or $500 if it were bamboo? So far, from what I've read, it's supposed to be better than mass-produced wooden shakuhachi, but I really don't understand why.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#21 2007-11-12 14:00:08

Seth
Member
From: Scarsdale, NY
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 270

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Let me share an experience from my humble shakuhachi background which may shed some light on the Riley – Perry -  Kiku / ji-ari – jinashi discussion:

After studying shakuhachi for a few years I accompanied my sensei on a trip to Japan for some additional lessons from ‘the source.’  During this trip I called Okuda Atsuya out of the blue (I found his # on a web site) and asked for a lesson.  I had heard he was a “jinashi player” and was curious.  I had previously heard jinashi, and played some jinashi flutes, on many occasions and did not see a tremendously meaningful difference between the two.   And, like Riley commented, I had heard some jinashi flutes that sounded, to my ears, jiari, and vice versa.  So when I went to hear Okuda  I really did not expect his playing to be particularly different from that of the other teachers and pros I have heard play.

And I was totally wrong.  It was very striking how different he sounded from any other playing I had ever heard.   He sounded very, very different almost as if it was a different instrument all together.   Not sure if I would say it was like an acoustic guitar versus an electric guitar, (as the term electric in this context is a little loaded, and, perhaps, derogatory) so let’s say it was like a harpsichord versus a piano.   

However, Okuda does not sound the way he does simply because his instruments have no lacquer in them.  He actually has his unique sound because of many reasons –the primary one being he has developed an entirely different way of playing.    Yes, the unqiue nature of the jinashi flutes contribute to his sound, but that actually seems secondary to his style of playing. 

And with this observation I would like to turn to Kiku with a question: when you talk about the uniqueness of jinashi flutes, are you talking exclusively about the physics of a jinashi instrument, or are you also bundling this perspective together with the ideal style – from your perspective  - with which a player should approach a jinashi instrument?

Last edited by Seth (2007-11-12 14:03:00)

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#22 2007-11-13 11:25:23

Yungflutes
Flutemaker/Performer
From: New York City
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 1040
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Hi Kiku, No worries. Just wanted to clarify.

Kiku Day wrote:

...And to Perry. Sorry about the misunderstanding about the original post. I should have tried to find it in your blog, but that was just how I understood it through Riley's text.

Threads can get muddled easily. I was a musician long before I discovered the shakuhachi. I do not consider playing the electric guitar less natural than blowing into a raw piece of bamboo with holes drilled into it. However,  I was in Cambodia once and saw a boy play a melody on a green leaf he just picked up off the ground. I thought at that moment, "Wow, it doesn't get more natural than that!".

radiognome wrote:

I'll concede that maybe I'm just not sensitive enough to perceive the "world" of difference between jinashi and jiari, but it really seems to me that even if I was, it has to be a much, much smaller world than the difference between electric and acoustic guitar.

Hi radiognome.
To me, in the world of the shakuhachi, a small difference can be a great one.  For example, I recently fixed a stuffy note on  a vintage Kawase Junsuke 1.8. I told the owner I could make it better but how much better would be difficult to say. I would do it in increments because any little thing done in the bore can easily affect the entire flute. We agreed to do it in small increments. So, I made the minimal adjustment to release the stuffiness and sent it to him. He responded by saying it was a huge improvement. In his worn words - "It made the entire flute 50% better."

Hey Seth,

Seth wrote:

Not sure if I would say it was like an acoustic guitar versus an electric guitar, (as the term electric in this context is a little loaded, and, perhaps, derogatory) so let’s say it was like a harpsichord versus a piano.

I'm of the John Cage school of music. I certainly do not believe an electric sound next tto a shakuhachi is derogatory at all. I love playing in the NYC subways with the trains whooshing by and the electric third rail crackling. I also love Cage's 4' 33" for Piano. Other than forcing me to be in the moment with the music, it can be played anywhere, anytime without an MP3 player or walkman! smile

Namaste all, Perry


"A hot dog is not an animal." - Jet Yung

My Blog/Website on the art of shakuhachi...and parenting.
How to make an Urban Shakuhachi (PVC)

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#23 2007-11-22 05:59:07

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 917
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Seth wrote:

Let me share an experience from my humble shakuhachi background which may shed some light on the Riley – Perry -  Kiku / ji-ari – jinashi discussion:

Excellent. We all start somewhere and accumulate experiences... and all of them are valid!
And thank you, Seth, for this very interesting thread in the ji-nashi/ji-nuri shakuhachi discussion.

Seth wrote:

After studying shakuhachi for a few years I accompanied my sensei on a trip to Japan for some additional lessons from ‘the source.’  During this trip I called Okuda Atsuya out of the blue (I found his # on a web site) and asked for a lesson.  I had heard he was a “jinashi player” and was curious.  I had previously heard jinashi, and played some jinashi flutes, on many occasions and did not see a tremendously meaningful difference between the two.   And, like Riley commented, I had heard some jinashi flutes that sounded, to my ears, jiari, and vice versa.  So when I went to hear Okuda  I really did not expect his playing to be particularly different from that of the other teachers and pros I have heard play.

Here you must also think about the fact that many people playing ji-nashi shakuhachi today are in reality ji-nuri shakuhachi players. They have learned for many years to play ji-nuri, and blow into a ji-nashi as if they were playing ji-nuri. The breathing techniques of ji-nashi and ji-nuri shakuhachi are very different, I find. Almost as if it was another wind instrument. However, recent makers, who make ji-nashi are also ji-nuri shakuhachi makers, who blow with ji-nuri shakuhachi breathing techniques, and thereby makes ji-nashi as close as possible to ji-nuri shakuhachi.

Today, there are many wonderful modern ji-nashi shakuhachi makers, who make really good instrument closer to ji-nuri in sound and requiring ji-nuri playing techniques.

Seth wrote:

And I was totally wrong.  It was very striking how different he sounded from any other playing I had ever heard.   He sounded very, very different almost as if it was a different instrument all together.   Not sure if I would say it was like an acoustic guitar versus an electric guitar, (as the term electric in this context is a little loaded, and, perhaps, derogatory) so let’s say it was like a harpsichord versus a piano.

That is new to me! I never thought of electricity as derogatory at all. Electricity has been a revolution in music. Sorry, if any thought of it as derogatory!


Seth wrote:

However, Okuda does not sound the way he does simply because his instruments have no lacquer in them.  He actually has his unique sound because of many reasons –the primary one being he has developed an entirely different way of playing.    Yes, the unqiue nature of the jinashi flutes contribute to his sound, but that actually seems secondary to his style of playing.

Ji-nashi shakuhachi playing is a minority - also in Japan. But if you do search, there are many around. If you hear people, who have basically always played ji-nashi, they all sound very different to ji-nuri players. They have really dwelled into the realm of ji-nashi, the breathing technique needed there, and also the fingering, which is a little different from ji-nuri shakuhachi. What is most striking is the difference of aesthetics. Playing ji-nashi, for certain groups, is not about getting the loudest volume out. It is all about  timbre. However, one can get loud on ji-nashi, of course. The old style ji-nashi are very narrow int he bottom end, and have therefore not that much volume output, but the timbre you get from that construction is what this groups of ji-nashi players usually search for.
Myoan players is a very varied group of players. Some play tozan shakuhachi. But within Myoan, there is a core group, for whom playing ji-nashi is essential. They sound very different to ji-nuri shakuhachi players of today. They may sound different to Okuda. Okuda and Nishimura Koku have in some way gone a similar road in the sense of the very soft breathing. However, their playing techniques are very different. When I began studying with Okuda in 1989, he sounded much more like Watazumi. He used more powerful means of expression. He has developed his playing into being something very personal and very esoteric indeed.

Seth wrote:

And with this observation I would like to turn to Kiku with a question: when you talk about the uniqueness of jinashi flutes, are you talking exclusively about the physics of a jinashi instrument, or are you also bundling this perspective together with the ideal style – from your perspective  - with which a player should approach a jinashi instrument?

When I - on a personal level - speak about ji-nashi shauhachi playing, I am talking about the whole package: The physical aspect of the instrument as such, the playing and breathing technique, the aesthetics of what kind of sound is desirable and also about the aspect of the human being adapting to the bamboo.
However, when we have discussed ji-nashi shakuhachi as an instrument and what is the difference between this and that here in the forum... then I have just been talking about the physical aspects of the ji-nashi shakuhachi.
I think it is ok to speak about it on several levels. Now you brought in a very important level into the discussion.
I am enjoying, as the ji-nashi idiot, I am, to see people get more and more into ji-nashi playing. But I will never tell people that if they don't play a particular kind of ji-nashi, with a particular playing technique - then it is not real ji-nashi playing. Ji-nashi playing has many faces - and they are all just as beautiful and just as important. Just listen to Tairaku's playing... This could not come further away from Okuda or Nishimura. I think it is very far from Watazumi too. However, it sounds great, and he is taking ji-nashi shakuhachi playing to new exciting grounds.

Kiku


I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music
Hafiz

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#24 2007-11-22 15:32:27

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3204
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Kiku Day wrote:

The old style ji-nashi are very narrow int he bottom end, and have therefore not that much volume output, but the timbre you get from that construction is what this groups of ji-nashi players usually search for.Kiku

Not all the old ones have the end closed down. There are plenty of Edo and Meiji ji-nashi shakuhachi with open ends and also large finger holes. The ones with the closed down end seem to come mainly from the Kansai area and they also took this idea into the early Tozan flutes. Although I have also seen Kansai jinashi with open ends. Have you found regional differences in your research on shakuhachi construction?


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

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#25 2007-11-23 14:20:15

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 917
Website

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Tairaku wrote:

Not all the old ones have the end closed down. There are plenty of Edo and Meiji ji-nashi shakuhachi with open ends and also large finger holes. The ones with the closed down end seem to come mainly from the Kansai area and they also took this idea into the early Tozan flutes. Although I have also seen Kansai jinashi with open ends.

You are absolutely right. However, I think the general tendency (IF one can speak of such a thing) is that they are narrow around the 2nd or 3rd fushi. But there are loads of variations, as you correctly point out.

Tairaku wrote:

Have you found regional differences in your research on shakuhachi construction?

I did indeed. And I did see a close link to the way the pieces are composed and played - and the type of flute made in that area. That was very interesting to see - however it was not the focus of my research this time (unfortunately, I felt at times), so I will be getting myself into deep waters (is this only a Danish expression?) if I began to theorise about the regional differences. Also there are exceptions everywhere. So, I will not write about it before I get more research done. smile


I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music
Hafiz

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