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I was reading in another post about the difference between blowing technique on the jinashi vs. the jiari and I was wondering if anyone can elaborate on the difference between both techniques. I have played both jinashi and jiari for a couple of years now and I have taken lessons with Ronnie Seldin and I have worked on getting a pretty focused tight embouchure over that time. On my Taimu I use a more relaxed embouchure. Is the looser embouchure common on jinashi or do most play it with a tighter embouchure like jiari? I would love some opinions on this. I like playing jinashi more when I am playing honkyoku but for the gaikyoku I need to use the jiari and I wonder if I should alternate techniques for the "best" results. Sorry if the post is slightly wandering but I am trying to figure out how to best ask the question. I hadn't really thought about it before I read the Riley Lee post and Kiku Day mentioned it.
Just to touch upon one part of your question, I think one of the most important things to consider when changing embouchure types is to stay in pitch. I like to alternate between a focused embouchure and a relaxed one when playing Jinashi, which I think allows the player to explore the myriad of tone color possibilities inherent to the Jinashi.
The shorter and/or thinner the flute generally the tighter the embouchure. It's not really a matter of jinashi or not. That's why it's good to play long, short and average length flutes and get some adaptability. The "best way" is to really get to know your flutes and play them as individuals. Some flutes can be played with either a tight or loose embouchure, but sound better or different each way. Another major factor is the angle of the utaguchi, the more severe it is the less you can force it.
I will try to say something general about the differences in breathing technique between jinashi and jinuri shakuhachi- at least according to my experience.
There are two main differences between the two flute types that requires the different blowing techniques:
1. The unevenness of the bore of jinashi in comparison with the smooth bore of the jinuri
2. The utaguchi angle.
Let's take the easiest first: The utaguchi angle. The utaguchi angle really varies today - and of course it did as well during the Edo period. But as a general rule, the dip in the utaguchi has deepened over time - especially after the creation of the jinuri shakuhachi. The skilled craftsmen that created the jinuri shakuhachi probably had the focused and 'purer' tone of the Western flute in mind. The deeper utaguchi requires a tighter embouchure which produces the more focused note. Thus the shallower utaguchi requires a more relaxed embouchure and mouth cavity. But behind it all is the breathing. That changes too.
The above together with the uneven bore of the jinashi shakuhachi does make in a difference in the breathing technique, I think. My experience is that the jinuri shakuhachi can take much more straight blown air - so to speak... a strong breath. While the jinashi shakuhachi due to the roughness requires something different than straight blown air. Also you need to change the blowing technique with almost each note as you activate the different chambers within the different nodes. Playing jinashi shakuhachi requires that you are ready to change the breathing between warm and cold breath in a subtle way all the time to compensate for the unevenness of the bore. My teacher, Okuda often talked about warm and cold breath. He said the cold breath was the breath you use when blowing out the candle on your birthday cake. The warm breath is the breath you use when warming your hands.
All this said, today there are so many types of jinashi shakuhachi. Skilled makers are consciously trying to create jinashi shakuhachi that can be blown as a jinuri shakuhachi. I was told this by several makers in Japan that that was their aim. That also means these makers were very conscious about the breathing techniques between jinashi and jinuri shakuhachi being different. With skilled makers trying hard to make jinashi that can be blown as a jinuri... well if you have one of those flutes, you may be able to blow like you have always done on a jinuri. These jinashi shakuhachi also tends to have kinko or tozan utaguchi.
There are, of course, also Edo period jinashi shakuhachi with almost all the nodes removed, which requires a somewhat closer breathing technique to jinuri. They play great and sound great too. However, I have not yet experienced a jinashi shakuhachi from the Edo period that requires a breathing technique like a jinuri shakuhachi unless it has been 'repaired' later on. Perhaps our big Edo shakuhachi collectors can tell us more about that.
Enjoy the difference! All shakuhachi types are great and interesting.
Kiku Day wrote:
There are, of course, also Edo period jinashi shakuhachi with almost all the nodes removed, which requires a somewhat closer breathing technique to jinuri. They play great and sound great too.
I hate to divert the thread from breathing differences between the two types of shakuhachi, and with my limited experience I've never seen or played an antique similar to what Kiku describes, but I've been wondering whether a flute with no Ji but a polished bore still qualifies as a jinashi instrument? The instrument I have like this that got me wondering is supposedly a Monty Levinson, it's not signed and I got it off Ebay so I can't be 100% sure, but to me plays a lot like the wooden shakuhachi and the only shorter jiari I have. Actually it plays even better. I know ease of playing isn't an indication of a good instrument, but it plays well into the 3rd octave very easily, and by easily I mean even from my begginers perspective. I'd think that in general only very fine jinashi would be able to boast of a similar quality, but this was sold to the original owner as a "student" model.
ive been experimenting with different breaths to make my 2.9 from perry sound good. Ive noticed that I have to blow into it differently for different notes to make them sound good. the ro on kan is tough to make sound full and loud as the rest of the notes. Sometimes I almost get it to sound as full and loud but my breadth must be to cold or somthing cause it also sounds too windy... oh well..keep trying till it surprises me.