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#26 2007-11-23 14:36:30

Moran from Planet X
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Registered: 2005-10-11
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Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Tairaku wrote:

There are plenty of Edo and Meiji ji-nashi shakuhachi with open ends and also large finger holes.

Brian, is that black urushi covered Edo flute with the big bore and big finger holes, attributed to Hisamatsu Fuyo (1791-1871; a student of Kursosawa Kinko III) still in the San Diego area? It was a fascinating looking flute.

Any chance of pictures ever getting posted of that?


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#27 2007-11-23 15:02:24

Tairaku 太楽
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Registered: 2005-10-07
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Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Chris Moran wrote:

Tairaku wrote:

There are plenty of Edo and Meiji ji-nashi shakuhachi with open ends and also large finger holes.

Brian, is that black urushi covered Edo flute with the big bore and big finger holes, attributed to Hisamatsu Fuyo (1791-1871; a student of Kursosawa Kinko III) still in the San Diego area? It was a fascinating looking flute.

Any chance of pictures ever getting posted of that?

It is here in Australia now. There is no way of knowing if Fuyo made it but it resembles some of his known instruments. I will see if I can find a pic.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

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#28 2007-11-23 17:19:29

Moran from Planet X
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From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1521
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Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Tairaku wrote:

There is no way of knowing if Fuyo made it but it resembles some of his known instruments. I will see if I can find a pic.

The picture you sent was very dark so I had to do some CSI-like corrections to see if we could get some detail. Two corrections here, one mild correction and one pretty severe correction so we can see some detail. This looks like a difficult flute to photograph. The flute looks much better in person, but this will give us an idea.

http://www.chrismoran.com/shaku8/blackshakuhachi-corrections.jpg


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." —Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#29 2007-11-23 17:32:39

Tairaku 太楽
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From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3207
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Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Chris Moran wrote:

Tairaku wrote:

There is no way of knowing if Fuyo made it but it resembles some of his known instruments. I will see if I can find a pic.

The picture you sent was very dark so I had to do some CSI-like corrections to see if we could get some detail. Two corrections here, one mild correction and one pretty severe correction so we can see some detail. This looks like a difficult flute to photograph. The flute looks much better in person, but this will give us an idea.

http://www.chrismoran.com/shaku8/blacks … ctions.jpg

I should probably do a serious photo session with a bunch of the nice flutes for people to see what historical flutes look like.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

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#30 2007-11-24 17:24:03

Moran from Planet X
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From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1521
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Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Tairaku wrote:

I should probably do a serious photo session with a bunch of the nice flutes for people to see what historical flutes look like.

Not that you don't occupy yourself enough with this forum and teaching and playing (running tea houses, having a life)... but getting good photos of historical instruments online would be really great, particularly for non-Japanese speakers and those who don't have ready access to the inside of Japanese shakuhachi culture.

I'd be willing to help getting images to Web-readiness, time permitting, if that would be useful.


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." —Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#31 2007-11-26 05:48:04

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

The following is in part a reply to earlier postings in this thread, and in part a reply to discussions in other threads within this topic.  It is quite long – over 4000 words! You might do better to NOT read it and spend the time practicing your flute instead.

AUTHORITY
Firstly, it goes without saying that most of what appears on this shakuhachi forum, including what I have posted in the past and what you are reading now, is expressions of personal opinions. The authority behind those opinions paradoxically depends simultaneously on both how much the writer has and how much the reader thinks the writer has.

Nevertheless, like all other contributors to this forum, I do have, unambiguously and emphatically, the authority to express my opinion. It is, as others have pointed out, all just a matter of opinion.

THREE OUT OF FOUR WITH FIVE –BIG DIFFERENCE!
Here’s why compared to the difference between shakuhachi with or without ji, the difference between 7-hole shakuhachi and 5-hole shakuhachi is much greater, by order of magnitude.

The shakuhachi differs from other musical instruments in the method of generating sounds in general and specific sounds and pitches in particular.

Compare, for example, the recorder to the shakuhachi. Air blown into the recorder produces sound. The direction of the air blown towards the blowing edge is however, taken care of by the instrument. Also, the recorder player gets different pitches by moving her fingers.

In contrast, the shakuhachi player is responsible for accurately directing the blown air towards the blowing edge. That’s probably the biggest difference between the recorder and the shakuhachi. But there is another very big difference.

The shakuhachi player, like her recorder playing counterpart, does get many different pitches by moving her fingers. But, unlike the recorder player, and it turns out, unlike players of nearly all other wind instruments, the shakuhachi player is required to change the way she directs the air towards the blowing edge in order to get many of the most important pitches in the ‘modes’ or ‘scales’ used in nearly every traditional shakuhachi piece. Of course, I’m referring to the meri-kari technique.

The meri-kari technique is probably the most important technique in shakuhachi playing, after of course, getting sound, any sound. Meri-kari influences three of four elements of sound that allow us to hear ‘music’ rather than ‘noise’. Meri-kari can change pitch, dynamics and timbre or tone colour. The only musical element meri-kari doesn’t change is duration.

Three very important notes in most traditional pieces are equivalent to the pitches Eb, Bb and Ab (on a 1.8 shaku flute). There are others, but these particularly stand out. On a 5-hole shakuhachi, the player gets all three pitches using the meri-kari technique. The 7-hole player can produce two of those pitches, Eb and Bb, without using meri-kari, by using the two extra holes instead. Though the 7-hole player might still be able to manipulate the timbre or dynamics of these two pitches through changes in embouchure and breath control, it will not be as much as with meri-kari.

Related to the meri-kari business, in traditional shakuhachi music, is the way meri notes (eg., Eb, Bb, Ab) are constantly moving up or down in pitch, for example, E-flat bending down to E-double flat and back up again. This pitch bending is difficult/impossible using the extra holes on a 7-hole flute.

So, the difference really only relates to two pitches. This may not sound that big of a deal, but anyone who plays both 5-hole and 7-hole shakuhachi knows the mental and physical shift needed to go from one to another, as well as the unsatisfactory feeling that trying to play a honkyoku using all seven holes of the 7-hole flute gives one. The entire nature or feel of the pieces change by adding the two extra holes.

In addition, there is also the philosophical element of meri-kari as it relates to yin and yang, but that might be best saved for another separate discussion.

The difference between 5-hole and 7-hole shakuhachi involves a radical difference in applying one of the most important shakuhachi techniques, meri-kari, which affects three of the four elements that transforms noise into music to our ears.

ONLY ONE, WITH OR WITHOUT
In the case of shakuhachi with or without ji, the methods used to ‘make music’ remain the same. The single element that might change is timbre or tone colour, and even changes to this single element, that might be caused solely by the lack of or addition of ji, may sometimes be impossible to detect by the listener.

There might differences in how one plays flutes with ji or without ji, but these differences are no greater than those used to play different flutes with varying characteristics. In other words, the shakuhachi player must make miniscule, though important, manipulations in her embouchure and breath to optimise sound production with any flute. This is the nature of shakuhachi playing.

Skilled shakuhachi players develop the strength and control to make these manipulations, through tens of thousands of hours of practice. These manipulations are basically the same regardless of the presence or lack of ji. They vary between flutes with lots of ji and those with little or no ji. Playing a particular piece requires the same combinations of meri-kari, fingering, breathing, phrasing, dynamics, and ‘ma’ or timing, whether the piece is played on a flute with or without ji. The sound may (or may not) be different, but the process of playing the music is the same.

The addition of ji does not change how a shakuhachi player makes music. Flutes with ji can sound different from flutes without ji. Flutes without ji can also sound different from other flutes without ji. The addition or lack of ji may not cause the biggest variables between flutes.

Of course, one can make generalisations. Flutes with little or no ji do tend to sound one way, while flutes with ji tend to sound another way. Generally speaking, one has to play flutes without ji, or with very little ji, differently from flutes with ji. But the differences are part of a continuum of subtle changes in embouchure, breath control, etc., needed to play any selection of shakuhachi with a wide range of responses and idiosyncrasies, whether they are made with or without ji. The method of producing sound and specific pitches is fundamentally the same.

That is why the difference between 7-hole shakuhachi and 5-hole shakuhachi is far greater than the difference between shakuhachi with or without ji. Please note: the above discussion is not about which is better, a 7-hole or a 5-hole flute, nor is it about whether or not a flute with ji is better than one without. No value judgements are implied.

AN ELECTRIFYING ANALOGY
The electric guitar example was a useful analogy. Analogies make a point; they explain or clarify something. Perry originally used it, quite well I thought, to make a point about shakuhachi making. I suggested however, that his analogy might unconsciously reinforce an erroneous belief held by many that flutes without ji are intrinsically better (closer to Nature) than those with ji (further from Nature). Perry later clarified his position on this; he didn’t believe that this was the case, and did not want to reinforce this belief with his analogy.

What we hear when an electric guitar is played is generated by speakers. Tracing the sound back from the speakers, you find wire cable, then amplifiers and often other bits of equipment, then more wire, and then microphones. Finally, you get back to the original sound. Certainly, the player’s fingers initiate the sound, but the production of the sound that we hear coming out of the speakers is far removed from those fingers in terms of materials and processes. To compare the sequence of sound production of an electric guitar with that of a shakuhachi, with or without ji, is like comparing apples with Norton motorcycles.

THREE DABS? FOUR DABS?
I appreciate the challenge faced by people who make too much of the differences between flutes with ji and flutes without ji. Here are some of the difficulties with becoming too pedantic about shakuhachi with or without ji.

First of all, if “to ji or not to ji” is the main question then, all flutes belong either to the ‘without ji’ group or the ‘with ji’ group. A flute either has ji in its bore or it doesn’t. There is no ambiguity. This may not be the only way to define ji-nashi, but as a definition, it works well.

Further definitions however, become extremely problematic. For example, as soon as one creates a new group called ‘ji-mori’ and define it as flutes “with ji added in some places, not covering the whole bore”, you have at least two complications. First of all, one has to define the point at which a ‘ji-mori’ flute becomes a ‘ji-nuri’ flute.

How much ji is allowed in ji-mori flutes? Is a flute with ji covering 99% of the bore a ji-mori flute? Is the difference determined by weight (eg, ji-mori flutes have less than 57.8 grams of ji; more than that and it’s a ji-nuri flute), or maybe volume (eg., 153 millilitres or less for ji-mori, 154 ml or more for ji-nuri)? Or is the difference determined by the number of places that the ji occurs (eg, three dabs or less are ji-mori; four or more dabs are ji-nuri)?

Perhaps, placement comes into the definition (eg, ji can only be found in the bottom half of flute for it to be considered ji-mori). Maybe it’s a combination (eg, ji-mori flutes must have no more than four dabs of ji, with a total volume of 153 ml or less, applied only in the bottom half of the flute). Can you see the dilemma? With or without, black or white, no problems. Add shades of grey and the definitions break down.

Also, what about urushi? If ji is totally out, is urushi totally out too? If urushi is okay, then what if some maker with more time than sense applied enough coats of urushi to a shakuhachi to build up the bore as much as if ji had been used? Would it still be a ji-nashi shakuhachi? If so, then at what point, or at what amount does urushi becomes ji? Use enough lacquer and surely it becomes filler. If urushi can become filler, can the reverse be true, that is if ji was applied as thinly and evenly as a coat of urushi, would the flute still be ji-nashi? More problems.

A second, even greater complication is trying to explain the need for this new group or definition. Why create a new category of ‘just a little ji’ flutes in the first instance, when the original ‘with or without ji’ dichotomy works so well? Why muddy the waters? Why create problems?

It seems to me that the reason for this unnecessary hair-splitting has to do with trying to justify choosing shakuhachi primarily on the presence or lack of ji in the bore. In other words, the hair-splitting might become necessary in order to defend one’s personal preferences. Ironically, there is no need to defend one’s personal preferences in this matter.

PERSONAL PREFERENCE
It is fine to define a flute without ji as always being better than a flute with ji. This is an arbitrary definition, but then, most definitions are arbitrary. If one’s first and foremost determinant for choosing a shakuhachi is whether or not ji was used in its construction, then it makes sense to define one type as better than the other.

I see no problem with this way of thinking at all, so long as it is clear that this is an arbitrary way of choosing one’s flutes. If someone says, “I prefer flutes without ji, and have chosen not to play flutes with ji” we have to accept that. Everyone understands this statement, and certainly people should respect other’s personal preferences. No one complains when I state that I prefer the smell of gardenias to that of roses, especially if I make it clear that I’m in no way implying that gardenias smell better than roses, If I began ‘fighting’ for gardenias, and thought of myself as a ‘gardenia warrior’, then some people might question my need to do so.

Problems may begin when one becomes too public about one’s personal predilections. Then one begins to feel a need to explain or defend one’s particular preferences. Others begin asking, “Why make such a big deal about your personal likes and dislikes?” At this point, other elements must be added to the equation. For example, in answer to the ‘why’ question, one might reply, “I prefer flutes without ji because they sound better to me and to many other people.”

What’s the problem with that statement? Nothing, really.

Except that it begs more questions than it answers. In what way do the flutes without ji sound better to you? How do you define ‘better sound’? Are you sure it’s the lack of ji that you are hearing and not some other factor? How do you know this? Do all flutes without ji sound better to you than all flutes with ji? Can you always hear the difference between flutes without ji and those with ji, even one small dab of a tiny bit of ji?

First of all, differentiating sounds is not the same thing as differentiating the quality of those sounds. Sound quality is not quantifiable. Judging ‘quality’ implies the assigning of personal values. It just comes back to personal preferences, one’s own arbitrary likes and dislikes, and one should remember that these things are, well, personal.

Sound differences (no value judgement) are quantifiable. It is possible to say that this flute sounds different from that flute. I may not hear all of the differences that you can hear, but if there are differences, then they can be measured. It might be possible to demonstrate the existence of differences between one flute and another, and the size or degree of those differences, given the right measuring devices. In any case, we all know that flutes sound different. The only measuring devices needed to tell us this are our ears.

It is probably impossible however, to prove that measurable sound differences between different flutes are caused by the lack of or presence of ji in the shakuhachi bore. It is possible to add ji to any ji-nashi flute in such a way so that the sound does not change. Put it in the right spot, or put in a small enough amounts and nothing to do with the sound will change.

Furthermore, there are too many other variables.

The temperature of the air, internal bore dimensions, angle and placement of blowing edge, and many other things all might contribute to these differences. And then there is the most important part of the instrument – and the most variable, the part above the blowing edge, that is, the performer.

When I play a flute, it will sound different from when you play the same flute. When I play a flute, it will even sound different from when I play the same flute again, having only paused to take a breath!

It would be very difficult if not impossible to isolate changes in sound that are caused solely by the addition or lack of ji in the bore.

This might be why the need for the problematic ji-mori definition. If one insists that flutes without ji sound better than flutes with ji, and yet if it’s difficult to differentiate between flutes made entirely without ji from flutes made with just a little ji, then one has to create a separate category, flutes that have the ‘better sound’ even though they do have ji. With the new definition, these problematic flutes are no longer flutes with ji (ji-nuri or ji-ari).

It doesn’t really matter how one defines ‘better sound’. It seems that for some folks, flutes with no ji sound better than flutes with ji, except sometimes flutes with ji also have that sound better, too. This contradiction is dealt with by creating a new category, ji-mori.

[BTW, does anyone know the kanji for the ‘mori’ in this word? Is it the same as Oomori, as in ‘ramen oomori’?]

By my definition, my flute with just a little ji in it (three dabs, in the top, middle and bottom of the flute; I don’t know how many grams worth) is a ji-nashi flute. Some people might call it a ji-mori flute, but I will continue to call it a ji-nashi flute. I can say this, because my definition of a ji-nashi flute is not a black and white, either/or one. In other words, I don’t take the word literally to mean ‘no ji, not even one molecule of ji’. My definition of a ji-nashi flute includes flutes that may have some ji, yet still have the characteristics that I associate with flutes without ji.

A JI-NASHI FAIRY TALE
Here’s a fictitious story that might illustrate the problem with firstly taking the meaning of the term ‘ji-nashi’ literally and secondly, making the lack of ji in the bore one’s primary criteria for choosing a shakuhachi. This story is pure fiction.

Once upon a time, there was a shakuhachi player who preferred shakuhachi made without ji to those made with ji. His preference was so strong that he refused to play shakuhachi with ji. He thought that even a tiny bit of ji in the bore of a shakuhachi made a difference that he could hear, and the difference was an undesirable one. So he though that even these flutes were to be avoided. There were a number of people making shakuhachi without ji, so it was never a problem to find a good flute made entirely without ji. There were of course, many bad flutes made without ji, but the same was true with flutes with ji – good ones and bad ones.

The shakuhachi player had a favourite shakuhachi, given to him by an acquaintance. It played just the way he thought a shakuhachi should play. Of course, the player thought that the shakuhachi had no ji in its bore, for he would never play a flute that had ji. He loved this flute.

But unknown to the player, this flute did have ji in its bore. The ji was only in two places, and had been applied in such a way and in such small quantities that it could not be seen with the naked eye. An x-ray of the instrument would have shown the two little dabs, but it never occurred to the player to x-ray his own instrument, especially as he got it from a reliable acquaintance. In any case, in this story x-rays weren’t invented yet.

But what the player didn’t know was that his acquaintance had acquired the flute from yet another reliable person, but this third person didn’t think a couple of very small dabs of ji really made that much difference in overall scheme of things. His definition of a ji-nashi flute was not strict. By his imprecise definition, the flute in question was a ji-nashi flute. This third person assumed that the second person’s definition of a ji-nashi was as flexible as his definition. So, he told the second person that the flute was ji-nashi, who in turn told our shakuhachi player that the flute was ji-nashi.

Then the original person died. After that, no one alive knew about the little dabs of ji.

That’s how the ji-nashi shakuhachi player came to own a shakuhachi that became his favourite flute, even though technically it wasn’t ji-nashi. He continued to play beautiful music on his favourite flute, and people came from near and far to listen to the revered ji-nashi flute.

Question #1: Was the flute a ji-nashi flute or not, especially once everyone thought it was, with no one around who knew better?
Question #2: If we could, should we tell our shakuhachi player? Why? Why not?

SHOULD JI-NASHI FLUTES BE RECORDED, EVER?
People who adhere to a strict, literal definition of ji-nashi flutes appear to fail to consider one implication of this. If the total absence of ji in a shakuhachi consistently causes such a discernable and desirable difference in sound quality as to make flutes with ji not worth playing, then the inevitable manipulation of the sound, which occurs with any recording, must surely be far worse.

In other words, this way of thinking, taken to its logical conclusion would dictate that that the sound of ji-nashi flutes should never be recorded. Furthermore, players of ji-nashi flutes should never use microphones or amplification when performing. Otherwise, why bother with the ji/no ji distinction?

The main argument for using flutes without ji is that they have a better sound. If one sticks to the literal definition of ji-nashi as having absolutely no ji whatsoever, then that implies that the presence of even a miniscule amount of ji changes the sound much too much to be acceptable.

That implies that the single most important element in shakuhachi music isn’t the exact shape and size of the shakuhachi bore, with its immeasurable complexity. It isn’t even the player. The most important thing is for the sound waves entering the listener’s ears to be created within the hollow of a piece of bamboo and unadulterated by anything at all (though a thin coat of urushi might be acceptable, perhaps).

If just a tiny bit of ji makes a world of difference in the sound of the shakuhachi, as seems to be claimed, then no wonder that it can be difficult to hear even that huge difference on recordings, compressed or otherwise. So much more happens to those sound waves once they are processed through microphones and beyond, than a bit of ji would ever cause. There has to be only the bamboo and the air.

YOKOYAMA SAID WHAT?
If Yokoyama says that the instrument is over 90% of the whole thing, then either his words have been taken out of context or he is wrong. Otherwise, whomever could lay their hands on the best instrument (for them) would sound 90% as good as the best player. If only you and I could go out and find the best instrument for us, we could sound 90% as good as Yokoyama or Yamaguchi or anyone else Why waste time practicing to improve only 10%, when I could be out there trying to find the instrument that suits my needs the best and improve 90% of the whole thing? Maybe this is one reason why some people keep buying and selling their ‘main’ instruments.

As I tend to think that Yokoyama knows what he’s talking about, then I also tend to think that his 90% comment was made for a specific purpose in a specific context (for example in the way that Simura used it; when admonishing someone to get a better flute) and that it does not contradict my original statement, which was, “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'.”

SUMMARY
Whether or not one prefers flutes without ji or with ji is nothing to fight over, and certainly isn’t something that requires warriors to do the fighting. We are not discussing religion, after all :-)   ….at least, I hope we aren’t.

The above lengthy discussion is not about the pros and cons of flutes without ji.

Everyone has personal preferences and reasons for their preferences. These preferences do not have to be defended. Conversely, personal preferences are very difficult to defend.

If one chooses to do so, then one must be very careful. Personal preferences are usually not universal truths; they may not even be personal truths. Ultimately, they are just a matter of opinion.

Definitions are not facts. Anyone can make her/his own definitions to suit her/his argument. Conversely, no one has to agree to another’s definition. Obviously, agreeing on definitions can be useful, even necessary in discussing certain things, but they are not set in stone and there is not necessarily any truth reflecting from them or supporting them.

Having ‘good practice’ is more important than having a good flute, whatever your definition of that is.

One can find evidence to back any belief.

If you want to find a ‘truth’ or even if you want just occasionally to stumble onto something new and interesting, it helps to suspend your beliefs as best you can, if only temporarily.

Last edited by Riley Lee (2007-11-26 06:16:41)

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#32 2007-11-26 09:32:54

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

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

Riley Lee wrote:

But, unlike the recorder player, and it turns out, unlike players of nearly all other wind instruments, the shakuhachi player is required to change the way she directs the air towards the blowing edge in order to get many of the most important pitches in the ‘modes’ or ‘scales’ used in nearly every traditional shakuhachi piece. Of course, I’m referring to the meri-kari technique.

I think Bonsuri flute and Turkish ney require a lot of lipping too. It might not be as severe as what's required with shakuhachi, but it's still two or more different notes in the same register with the same fingering to meet the requirements of a scale. I guess just a couple non-western examples doesn't make the phrase "unlike players of nearly all other wind instruments" untrue, but as soon as you look at non-western flutes the shakuhachi isn't nearly as unique in this respect.   

Riley Lee wrote:

At this point, other elements must be added to the equation. For example, in answer to the ‘why’ question, one might reply, “I prefer flutes without ji because they sound better to me and to many other people.”

What’s the problem with that statement? Nothing, really.

Except that it begs more questions than it answers. In what way do the flutes without ji sound better to you? How do you define ‘better sound’? Are you sure it’s the lack of ji that you are hearing and not some other factor? How do you know this? Do all flutes without ji sound better to you than all flutes with ji? Can you always hear the difference between flutes without ji and those with ji, even one small dab of a tiny bit of ji?

Some here have suggested that the main difference is the feel of the instrument, that's probably even more subjective than the sound quality.

Riley Lee wrote:

Furthermore, there are too many other variables.

The temperature of the air, internal bore dimensions, angle and placement of blowing edge, and many other things all might contribute to these differences. And then there is the most important part of the instrument – and the most variable, the part above the blowing edge, that is, the performer.

When I play a flute, it will sound different from when you play the same flute. When I play a flute, it will even sound different from when I play the same flute again, having only paused to take a breath!

One reason for differences in sound between one slot of time and the next is that the bore collects condensation. For some types of non-metal/non-plastic flutes, it's thought that they have a better sound after the bore becomes wet. This might be something more pronounced with jinashi shakuhachi.     


Thanks for the great post, Riley.


"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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#33 2007-11-26 10:26:44

Josh
PhD
From: Grand Island, NY/Nara, Japan
Registered: 2005-11-14
Posts: 305
Website

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

Hi,
  You got it right, the mori (盛り)is the same as oomori (大盛り), for food. It stems from the verb moru (盛る), which means to serve, fill, heap on, pile high etc. I'm not a 100% sure of the use of ji-mori 地盛り for shakuhchi but it may very well be from Shimura sensei. I'll ask him next time I see him.  Well, I've been a bad student and read your post, so no it's time to make up for it with some long practice hours of shakuhachi shugyo.

Josh

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#34 2007-11-27 16:05:12

Larry Tyrrell
Moderator
From: Pacific Northwest
Registered: 2005-11-09
Posts: 73
Website

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

Hello,

Although I feel equally attracted and repelled by the content and context of this topic, allow me to jump in. From where I sit this discussion is about experience and standing.  It is disingenuous to assume an intellectual and experiential equity of all opinions.  This kind of 'my truth-your truth' exchange is, simply, insipid.  In other words, not only are all opinions not valid (there, I said it) but a strongly held opinion is no substitute for intellectual rigor.

Shakuhachi is no fuzzy, New Age activity.  It takes an unbelievable amount of time and effort to achieve an understanding of just how enormous a challenge one has taken on.  To have accomplished a career and body of work like Yokoyama or, indeed, Riley Lee, actually does confer on that person deserved standing and, I don't mind saying, authority.

This is not about personal taste or even talent but rather dedication and hard work.  It is about hours spent blowing
not hours spent being a blow-hard. 

I sincerely hope that there are sufficient clear eyed people among forum members to steer discussion in this forum
away from quasi-religious mumbo jumbo about the merits of this or that type of flute and re-focus our efforts
where they belong; playing with your heart, your breath and abiding in your sound.

Larry Tyrrell

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#35 2007-11-27 17:59:56

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3207
Website

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

This discussion reminded me of two interesting quotes, one from Yokoyama and one from Watazumi.

From Contemporary Music Review Volume 8 part 2

Yokoyama: "The best shakuhachi for the classic repertoire is the one which retains the bamboo nodes, a really crude one that is cut out of a larger piece, with the mouthpiece just a simple slash across the bamboo at an angle and the insides just hollowed out. A good shakuhachi made simply like this is perfect for the classics."

Here is something from the liner notes of "Watazumi Doso Roshi: His Practical Philosophy (courtesy of ISS)

(Note: "Dogu" is a word Watazumi used in latter days instead of "Hocchiku")

Watazumi: "There is no special reason why bamboo is used as DOGU, so it is not necessary to stick to bamboo , and in the future its place will be taken by other materials."


This is an interesting topic to look at from different perspectives. If you look at the members of the forum there are clearly several different viewpoints brought about by the functions different members have in the community. For example a master musician may or may not prefer ji-nashi or ji-ari shakuhachi for whatever reason. Those reasons could be tone, playability, tradition or whatever and there is more than one valid viewpoint.

Some people come to the shakuhachi from a musical perspective, some from Suizen. Or combination.

Some people want to perform in public and some only play for themselves. There may be different flutes suitable for these purposes.

Makers are in a different category. They really need to define their relationship to the subject and find out they whys and wherefores of it if they want to continue in their quest. Otherwise they can spend years or decades searching blind alleys.

If post counts are any indication of interest, the "Flutemaking" and "Buy/Sell" sections are the most popular sections of the forum and the points made in this topic are relevant to both of those.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#36 2007-11-27 20:00:27

Moran from Planet X
Member
From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1521
Website

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

Tairaku wrote:

Watazumi: "There is no special reason why bamboo is used as DOGU ['Hocchiku'], so it is not necessary to stick to bamboo, and in the future its place will be taken by other materials."

Bamboo was used in Australia at one time, and in some places, to make didjeridu as seen in these top-page examples of mago from Western Arnhem Land:

http://www.ididj.com.au/exhibitions/wal.html

and this one bottom-page bamboo example from NW Northern Territory
(with custom house paint "urushi" -- take note Ken and Perry):

http://www.ididj.com.au/exhibitions/nwNT.html

Most authentic didjeridu available today from Australia are made from a variety of Eucalyptus.

Anyone want to make a shakuhachi out of termite-bored Eucalyptus?

Last edited by Chris Moran (2007-11-28 01:25:08)


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." —Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#37 2007-11-27 22:01:07

Jeff Cairns
teacher, performer,promoter of shakuhachi
From: Kumamoto, Japan
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 517
Website

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

Tairaku wrote:

(Note: "Dogu" is a word Watazumi used in latter days instead of "Hocchiku")

Watazumi: "There is no special reason why bamboo is used as DOGU, so it is not necessary to stick to bamboo , and in the future its place will be taken by other materials.".

It's not exactly clear what Watazumi meant by 'dogu' in that quotation, but in Japanese, 'dogu' means tool.  This meaning would put Watazumi's comment into a slightly different perspective.  It would seem that the 'tool' was a means and not an end for him and by that, there may be a myriad of tools suitable to achieve his end.  However, I don't think that that discussion was about the inherent nature of the shakuhachi and the music that evolved through and from it so much as the nature of his own path.  Yokoyama, in the quotation attributed to him, seemed to be talking about the ideal for the transmission of a certain aspect of the music played on the shakuhachi.  They seem to be covering different ground.

jeff


shakuhachi flute
I step out into the wind
with holes in my bones

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#38 2007-11-27 22:35:18

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3207
Website

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

Yes if you read the rest of the liner notes (which are in the Annals Vol. 2) you can see that Watazumi is describing shakuhachi, hocchiku or whatever he's blowing on as a tool for his Watazumido practice. Not as a musical instrument.

However it does seem that generally speaking Watazumi was pretty much a ji-nashi fanatic who did not play or approve of ji-ari shakuhachi. If anybody knows otherwise I'd be interested to hear about it.

I have a 1.8 here by his preferred maker Okubo Kodo, and it's my favorite 1.8. It's definitely a refined instrument in terms of workmanship but it is jinashi.

So the question arises, "Why did Watazumi insist on ji-nashi construction for his flutes?" and is that relevant to our current situation.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#39 2007-11-28 09:50:38

Josh
PhD
From: Grand Island, NY/Nara, Japan
Registered: 2005-11-14
Posts: 305
Website

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

In Watazumi's CD the last song on the track is Shingetsu and the description of the flute is that of it being the closest to a modern style flute. It is definately a more crystal clear sound than any of the other tracks which leads me to believe that it had a little ji and or urushi in there somewhere. He often criticized Yokoyama sensei for using ji-ari, but Watazumi himself was also an experimental artist so he found something he liked in the flute he used for that particular Shingetsu song. Seems to ironically fit Riley's philosophy of just basing your flute selection on the sound of the flute rather than it's details.

Josh

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#40 2007-11-28 11:56:12

Moran from Planet X
Member
From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1521
Website

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

Josh wrote:

Seems to ironically fit Riley's philosophy of just basing your flute selection on the sound of the flute rather than it's details.

Yes, indeed, quite a concept: Basing instrument selection on musical needs rather than ideologicial contructs!

I'm getting to like this guy Riley. <winkie, winkie>


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." —Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#41 2007-11-28 12:40:42

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.

Ok, I think this discussion has moved somewhere where it is not that pleasant. It has moved into being a little too emotional and personal - and something where we take sides.

Let me clear a few things:

I am not disagreeing with Riley Lee's whole post at all. And for me, it is certainly not personal!

What I did was offering my experience as a ji-nashi player as a contrast to a post saying there is not that much of a difference in the sound between ji-nashi and ji-nuri shakuachi (this is after all my role as the ji-nashi moderator):

Riley Lee wrote:

it suggests a bigger difference between ji nashi flutes and shakuhachi made with ji, than actually exists....
Perhaps philosophically, adding ji is a major step (even that is debatable)

as for some of us, there is a major difference. I wrote that my post was a totally subjective approach to the shakuhachi, and I have never said one is better than the other or the third. I think some people read that into my posts. (The quotes above are cut out of their contexts and not representative of what Riley Lee wanted to say).

Larry Tyrrell wrote:

This kind of 'my truth-your truth' exchange is, simply, insipid.  In other words, not only are all opinions not valid (there, I said it) but a strongly held opinion is no substitute for intellectual rigor.

I see now a lot of value judgment on whether it is good to have ji in the bore or not... or it is not good to prefer something that is a different preference to oneself.  I think all 3 types of instruments in this discussion have just as much attraction and values... some of us are attracted to one or two types for various reasons - and that is fine, no? I certainly think preferring ji-nuri is fine! The only thing I wrote, is what I personally prefer due to the sound quality, and no other reasons.

Let me here explain why there is a ji-nashi section in the forum, and why I am the moderator.
When I was approached by the administrators regarding having a ji-nashi section here, we had a discussion whether it was necessary, and why I had been asked to be the moderator of this section.

If you looked through the forum posts here and there in the past, it would be clear that the interest and confusion about ji-nashi shakuhachi was great. We decided that the interest was big enough to have a separate subject on ji-nashi shakuhachi, and we moved all the different threads here.

As for the moderator, not many non-Japanese (well, I am half Japanese - and the nationality does not matter. What matters is English communication skills) players have specialised in ji-nashi shakuhachi. I have, and I have played it seriously for 18 years, and have a career of performing and teaching + doing academic research on the subject. I am not saying I belong to the greats of shakuhachi playing at all - of course, I don't. Nor do I belong to the greats of academia. And I know 18 years of playing is nothing in comparison to my shakuhachi elders, Yokoyama Katsuya and Riley Lee, but I don't think I belong to a group talking without any background.

Larry Tyrrell wrote:

Shakuhachi is no fuzzy, New Age activity.  It takes an unbelievable amount of time and effort to achieve an understanding of just how enormous a challenge one has taken on.

However, I will have to say, as the moderator, that this is a forum, and people need to be able to express their opinions without being accused of being a "blow-hard" or "quasi-religious mumbo jumbo" or "pedantic". So, please refrain from that kind of wording, which is way too personal for a public forum! No-one forces anybody to read the posts here and especially not react on them. Here, shaking your head and sit down to play from your heart with an inclusive attitude is recommended. smile

Now I would like to answer a topic in Riley's post, which I, according to his recommendation only skimmed and didn't get through as I preferred playing.

Regarding the ji-nashi/ji-mori/ji-nuri:

There will always be a grey area where the borderlines are - even if there are only 2 categories. How much ji before it is a ji-nuri and how little ji before it is a ji-nashi. If you read through the posts from the past in the forum, there was a lot of guessing about when is it ji-nashi/ji-nuri/hocchiku/kyotaku???? It is clear that there was a need of defining the 'in between' ji-nuri and ji-nashi.

So, when exactly does a new category of instrument appear? Well, before there was shakuhachi. And that was obviously ji-nashi, since there was only that one type of shakuhachi. To answer a little another post in this discussion: In my research, I have in historical readings seen the shakuhachi been referred to as dogu (道具 - tool), take (竹 - bamboo) etc. But the definition between ji-nashi and ji-nuri appeared when the need occurred, which is when the ji-nuri became more and more important. The verb ji wo moru (地を盛る), I saw several times in, for example, the journal Sankyoku, where a lot of discussion pro - and contra ji-nuri/ji-nashi can be seen (Taisho ~ beg. Showa period). Thus the word itself is not new at all.
I think with the new interest in ji-nashi shakuhachi, the ji-mori has begun to play a bigger role on the shakuhachi scene. That is why the scholars I spoke with in Japan researching shakuhachi were very conscious about this - of course most of them all, Dr. Simura Satosi, who is mainly a ji-nashi player and scholar- and using this 3rd category. A few makers knew the word, more makers (that I spoke with) said 'This is almost ji-nashi with a little ji added'. More and more makers in and outside Japan are making ji-nashi. But in order to make a living, and in order to be able to produce what people want, and perhaps to make what they, themselves are satisfied with, I think a lot of makers make ji-mori. Several told me, 'They all start as ji-nashi... but most end up being ji-mori or ji-nuri'. And there is nothing wrong with that. They are all fine instruments. Thus ji-mori instruments are winning ground! And I believe that is why they in Japan now use the word, ji-mori shakuhachi. And there are wonderful ji-mori out there!

Now, I cannot offer a good and precise definition on whether a shakuhachi that is 90% covered with ji is ji-nuri or ji-mori. Nor can I offer anything regarding whether a shakuhachi that has 0.6% ji in the bore is a ji-nashi or a ji-mori. And honestly, I do not think it is my work - nor do I think it is a good idea if I start defining. I was reporting back from Japan, where I had just been working exclusively on ji-nashi in a serious research environment that they are using 3 categories. And since many began working on the triology of "hocchiku  ji-nashi  ji-ari", I thought we might as well get our definitions right from the beginning, so they can be understood both by Japanese and non-Japanese. The need for a word that describes what Tairaku called semi-jinashi was clearly felt - both in and outside of Japan.

Josh wrote:

In Watazumi's CD the last song on the track is Shingetsu and the description of the flute is that of it being the closest to a modern style flute. It is definately a more crystal clear sound than any of the other tracks which leads me to believe that it had a little ji and or urushi in there somewhere. He often criticized Yokoyama sensei for using ji-ari, but Watazumi himself was also an experimental artist so he found something he liked in the flute he used for that particular Shingetsu song. Seems to ironically fit Riley's philosophy of just basing your flute selection on the sound of the flute rather than it's details.
Josh

Unless it is written Watazumi used a ji-mori instrument, I would certainly be careful about saying it IS a ji-mori shakuhachi. But I agree, Josh, I do believe Watazumi was all about sound, so it is possible although it would go against his philosophy... but going against one's own philosophy has been seen before. smile

I, myself have ji-nashi, ji-mori and ji-nuri shakuhachi. I also have a shakuhachi, I suspected for years was a ji-mori. This flute has always been one of my favourites for new music! X-raying showed it was a ji-nashi. I still love that flute, but not more nor less than I always loved it.

Let's blow in peace and enjoy the differences.
Kiku

PS. Someone behind the scenes is having fun changing my picture and signature. I had a big laugh when I saw the ji-nashi warrior one. I asked it to be taken away when I realised some may take it seriously. It was somewhat a cute (but a little dangerous) joke played on me! And oh... I see I am a princess now. smile

Last edited by Kiku Day (2007-11-28 12:55:59)


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

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#42 2007-11-28 13:54:01

amokrun
Member
From: Finland
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 413

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

I wonder if part of what places a shakuhachi into one category or another is the vision that the maker had for that particular flute. Say, suppose that I make a flute that I want to be as close to raw bamboo as possible. I'm looking for specific feel and sound and shape the flute accordingly. Because I was aiming to make a jinashi the flute becomes one - assuming that I made it properly, of course. If someone adds a bit of ji somewhere along the line while trying to keep the original feel of the flute it would still qualify as a jinashi in my mind. If, on the other hand, someone takes the flute and fills the entire bore with ji it would no longer the the instrument I intended it to be. The intent of the changes matters, assuming that one has the skill to go along with his intentions.

I feel that it may be wrong to focus on nothing but whether or not the flute contains something or is made in some specific way. If you add a bit of ji while doing your best to keep the spirit of the flute the same or file away some of the ji that was placed there originally you could still in my opinion keep the flute in the same "category". You could, of course, also turn it into a different instrument entirely if you went against what the original maker intended. I don't think there is a scientific way to measure the effect of your changes. It is a bit like painting on top of unfinished picture. The additions either do or don't fit into what was already on the canvas. There is no test for this and it is up to the observer to make the call.

This is just how I feel about the topic. I believe that an instrument is truly wonderful if you can feel what the maker wanted the flute to be as you play it.  It has been an interesting thread so far and I'm sure that many readers have had to consider their stance on the issue.

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#43 2007-11-28 14:01:14

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.

Amokrun,
I think you are right. The whole thing is very fluid. And the most important thing is to find the flute that has the sound you want + practicing enough to be able to produce that sound. Once you have these two facts together, you will be a happy player with satisfied ears!

Kiku


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

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#44 2007-11-28 14:32:52

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 everybody.

I just wanted to lead your attention to a new post by Ken LaCosse in the Flutemaking forum.
He has taken the thread from this discussion and taken it to the Flutemaking forum, so we also can hear from the makers how their experiences are, making the different kinds of shakuhachi.

I encourage everybody, who has any experience with both types of shakuhachi making to reveal for us the difference, similarities or just how their thoughts are on shakuhachi making.

Hopefully we can learn a lot!
Kiku


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

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#45 2007-11-28 22:48:44

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

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

I have been enjoying this thread tremendously.    Thank you! 

One observation: It seems that some people, and I think Riley is in this camp, when talking about Jinashi or Jiari are discussing the physical properties of the instruments alone and nothing else.  Whereas others, and here I would place Kiku, are discussing the instrument PLUS a playing style associated with that type of  instrument. 

And I think this difference in approach is leading readers to see a disagreement in places where there is actually agreement.

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#46 2007-11-29 00:32:36

jumbuk
Member
From: South-eastern Australia
Registered: 2005-12-15
Posts: 85

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

As someone with less than two years of experience with shakuhachi under my belt, I am obviously not qualified to contribute usefully to the main topic.  However, I have found it interesting and useful for my own thinking.  Also, a parallel experience might be relevant.

Over on the Chiff and Fipple Irish flute forum, a similar discussion has ebbed and flowed regarding the degree to which the material and design of a flute affects the sound.  It's a common practice for players to describe the sound of a flute in somewhat fanciful terms ("rich and buttery" comes to mind) and to attribute various tonal differences to different makers or styles of flute.  However, some sceptics maintain that (a) such descriptions add nothing to our understanding of the sound of a particular flute, and (b) In any case, the majority of differences we perceive originate from the performer, not the instrument [any sceptics reading this, please accept my apologies if I have oversimplified or mistated your case].

A while back, one of the sceptics on the forum challenged readers to a listening test.  He pieced together a tune from bits of performances on different flutes, and dared listeners to identify the flutes involved, at least in terms of materials and perhaps style (eg Ruddal versus Pratten - the terminology may be unfamiliar, but I think you will get the gist).

The lack of responses more or less proved his point - although some argued that it wasn't a fair test.  We will leave that aside for the moment - what interested me is that this clearcut (to me) demonstration didn't really shift the opinion of those who maintain there are strong differences between materials etc.  It wasn't (always) just a case of peg-headed obstinacy, many still believed they could hear strong differences that were not attributable to the performer.

As I read the discussion, one of the issues seemed to stand out.  This is the fact that we generally make our comments from a player's point of view - we rarely compare flutes by asking someone to play them while we listen.  My own experience is that the tactile feedback (vibration) and proximity to the sound source plays a big part in the experience we get from a particular flute.  For example, I don't get the same experience when I listen to a recording of myself.

It would stand to reason that the more we add a heavier substance (ie urushi) to the inside of a piece of bamboo, the more we would alter the "feel' of the vibrating walls.  In my own case, there is a marked difference in feel between my Tei Hei 1.8 "expoxiari" and my new 1.8 Perry Yung Jiari, although I suspect the sound I make is equally woeful from both!


... as if nothing is happening.  And it is!

Paul Mitchell, Jumbuktu 2006

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#47 2007-11-29 01:37:01

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3207
Website

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

Kiku Day wrote:

PS. Someone behind the scenes is having fun changing my picture and signature. I had a big laugh when I saw the ji-nashi warrior one. I asked it to be taken away when I realised some may take it seriously. But it was somewhat a cute (but a little dangerous) joke played on me! And oh... I see I am a princess now. smile

Heaven forbid! I wonder who that could have been? Maybe we have been hacked again. We will investigate and make sure that never happens again. wink


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#48 2007-11-29 02:26:31

rpowers
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 285

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

Tairaku wrote:

Kiku Day wrote:

PS. Someone behind the scenes is having fun changing my picture and signature. I had a big laugh when I saw the ji-nashi warrior one. I asked it to be taken away when I realised some may take it seriously. But it was somewhat a cute (but a little dangerous) joke played on me! And oh... I see I am a princess now. smile

Heaven forbid! I wonder who that could have been? Maybe we have been hacked again. We will investigate and make sure that never happens again. wink
_____________________________________________

"Uomo bianco parla con lingua biforcuta."

Hmmm . . .  Perhaps Tairaku's own signature is a bit close to the bone now?

wink back at ya.


"Shut up 'n' play . . . " -- Frank Zappa
"Gonna blow some . . ." -- Junior Walker
"It's not the flute." -- Riley Lee

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#49 2007-11-29 16:35:18

David Sawyer
Jun Shihan
Registered: 2006-01-30
Posts: 7

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

amokrun wrote:

I believe that an instrument is truly wonderful if you can feel what the maker wanted the flute to be as you play it.  .

The ongoing discussion about jinashi and, let’s say, ‘other’ shakuhachi, reflects a ‘flute-centricity’ that emphasizes the importance of type of flute over other much more relevant issues. By far the single most influential factor in shakuhachi sound is the player. The reality of day to day engagement with shakuhachi is that you will sound like YOU, no matter whether you play a big bore jinashi or a modern jiari instrument. The YOU is a big signature, far larger than the difference in sound that might show up in different instruments made in any myriad of ways. This signature has a pretty obvious identity from day one of beginning shakuhachi. Of course it will change over time, but it remains always overwhelmingly front and center in a listener’s experience of you-plus-instrument (and the cause for angst and the temptation to ‘trade up’ with flutes).

There is no doubt that a player will experience wide differences in his playing experience from flute to flute, however his signature sound is overwhelmingly persistent to a listener. When Riley Lee or Miyoshi Genzan picks up a flute (any shakuhachi), right from the first sound you know you are witnessing years of accurate and intense engagement with the discipline of shakuhachi playing. Authority, musical wisdom, subtlety, technical prowess, emotional investment are immediately apparent, wether the instrument is plastic, jinashi, jiari whatever. That authoritative signature sound is why we sit listening with our mouths open.

So, it is interesting to consider how flute choice is made and how that choice reveals it’s effects over time. Shakuhachi playing is a collaboration between flute and player...a long term evolving negotiation. The more you play and study, the more you realize that YOU are doing the negotiating with a relatively passive partner, i.e. it’s all up to you. The choice of partner, one hopes, is a choice that will continually reveal space in the relationship for growth. When you learn how to hit those high octave notes, you want your partner to be right there with you. When you finally learn how to do a beautiful yuri and diminuendo to a phrase, your partner needs to be supporting your intentions. It’s pretty clear that choosing an instrument primarily on it’s ‘hollow bamboo sound’ or ‘pure sound’ or ’primal origin’ is to trivialize your intended future relationship (yes, analogies are plentiful!). So, for beginners, it’s helpful to have a trusted colleague or teacher with experience to give some additional oversight to flute choice. However, I firmly believe beginners can make good choices of what they want to buy and live with. You like what you like. Nothing stimulates shakuhachi playing more than waking up in the morning and drooling over a nice flute that you love.

It’s very helpful to enter into a long term committed relationship with an instrument. An instrument that will continually reveal open-ended possibilities as you evolve as a player. Not all flutes will fit the bill. The flute needs to stand up to your serious intentions over time. It needs to reveal the timbral excellence you are developing. It needs to reveal the best of your sound, which goes way beyond the individual signature of the flute. Great jinashi players are great players. Is jinashi special? Of course it is. We ARE shakuhachi obsessives after all! Is jiari special? Absolutely...and everything in between. Does jinashi have a primal earth-vibrational significance? Yes, so does everything else we choose to be intimate with.

You can’t get away with anything in shakuhachi...you are naked on a street corner from day one.  A $10000 flute or a big hollow piece of bamboo will not clothe your signature sound-of-this-moment.

Happy blowing,
David

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#50 2007-11-29 17:28:21

rpowers
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 285

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

David Sawyer wrote:

When Riley Lee or Miyoshi Genzan picks up a flute (any shakuhachi), right from the first sound you know you are witnessing years of accurate and intense engagement with the discipline of shakuhachi playing.

And when Riley picks up my flute (after listening to me complain about some shortcoming), I can hear the words before he says them.

"It's not the flute."


"Shut up 'n' play . . . " -- Frank Zappa
"Gonna blow some . . ." -- Junior Walker
"It's not the flute." -- Riley Lee

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