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#1 2008-04-16 17:03:41

udo.jeromin
Member
Registered: 2007-05-07
Posts: 72

memorizing honkyoku

Fab new category, thanks Tairaku!

I aim to memorize the pieces that I learn/play.

This is much easier when I see a clear structure so that I can break up the piece
in different numbers of chunks (ranging from the chunks comprising one breath
to the one chunk of the whole piece).  So here is the question:

How do you split up honkyoku pieces?
Are there indicators for "parts" in honkyoku?

And, more generally:

What method do you use to memorize honkyoku?

udo.

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#2 2008-04-16 17:43:08

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

Re: memorizing honkyoku

udo.jeromin wrote:

And, more generally:

What method do you use to memorize honkyoku?

Check out the links at this link http://shakuhachiforum.com/viewtopic.php?pid=7913#p7913

From KAKIZAKAI Kaoru's playing tips (particularly the tips from May 1999 and November 2002). ALL the others
are worthwhile studying, as well.

eB


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

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#3 2008-04-17 09:17:09

nyokai
shihan
From: Portland, ME
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 613
Website

Re: memorizing honkyoku

I like to memorize honkyoku structurally -- in other words, discover the pattern or structure of the piece and work from there. Many honkyoku are divisible into several stereotypical sections: shirabe (introduction), honte (main or original section), takane ("high stuff"), and musubi (wrapping up, conclusion). Sometimes there is a hachikaeshi section ("returning the bowl") before the conclusion, and sometimes there are several conclusions. You can help yourself memorize a piece by getting familiar with the feeling of these sections.

Then there are pieces, like Koku, which follow a more "danmono" kind of structure, in which there are several sections of roughly equal length, each one a variation of the original in some way. These are generally very easy to memorize.

Then there are the short, old simple pieces like Choshi and Sashi which follow a fairly straightforward "jo-ha-kyu" shape, with a slow beginning in the low register that works its way up to more dramatic high stuff then works its way down rather quickly.

Lastly, there are pieces which have a very regular pattern to them, such as Kyorei -- almost like a print pattern in clothing. Once you discover the pattern of Kyorei it is extremely easy to memorize.

Structurally, honkyoku is fractal. By this I mean that the shape of an individual breath-phrase mirrors the shape of a section, and the shape of a section mirrors the shape of the piece as a whole. This can help with memorizing as well.

When I memorize a piece I do it first in broad brushstrokes, not worrying about the exact ornaments and notes -- I get the overall shape of the sections and the flow of the piece. Then I go back and fill in what details I want. This approach may not work for everyone.

edosan wrote:

...KAKIZAKAI Kaoru's playing tips (particularly the tips from May 1999 and November 2002).

Much of the Dokyoku notation I've seen is very clean, with one or two breaths per line and very few marginal instructions. For this notation, Kakizakai's visual memorization approach might work very well. But try it with other Meian scores, for instance those of Jin Nyodo, and you might be tearing your hair out pretty quickly. The bit-by-bit visual approach, I've found, doesn't work well for me at all, as I don't have a very strong visual imagination. I prefer getting the overall shape, rhythm and "feel" of the music into my body without using the score as a memorization aid, but that's just me.


Edit: I just discovered that I already had most of this info in the tips section on my website, http://nyokai.com/tips  See the tip called "Memorizing."

Last edited by nyokai (2008-04-17 10:10:33)

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#4 2008-04-17 11:44:36

Jim Thompson
Moderator
From: Santa Monica, California
Registered: 2007-11-28
Posts: 421

Re: memorizing honkyoku

Nyokai,
    Thanks for the great memorization tips. Memorization is my Achilles heel, mainly because I've avoided it. You're tips make sense. Get the big picture first. Probably a good way to approach anything.
                                                       Thanks


" Who do you trust , me or your own eyes?" - Groucho Marx

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#5 2008-04-17 18:13:46

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: memorizing honkyoku

nyokai wrote:

Structurally, honkyoku is fractal. By this I mean that the shape of an individual breath-phrase mirrors the shape of a section, and the shape of a section mirrors the shape of the piece as a whole. This can help with memorizing as well.

That's exactly the way Olivier Messaien structured a lot of his music. Wonder if he was influenced by the honkyoku?


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#6 2008-04-17 19:14:25

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: memorizing honkyoku

In Messaien's "Catalogue d'oiseaux" (for piano), each piece has a palindromic structure and then the entire cycle also does. It's great music.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#7 2008-07-08 08:48:10

lowonthetotem
Member
From: Cape Coral, FL
Registered: 2008-04-05
Posts: 529
Website

Re: memorizing honkyoku

I don't have alot of musical talent or education, so it is nice to read that stuff about the structure of Honkyoku.  I am working on memorizing my first now.

It has little to do with music theory or anything, but I am a pretty visual kind of guy.  I trying three strategies for memorization.  The first is playing the thing a few thousand times.  I guess that is pretty obvious.  The next is posting the piece.  I have difficulty reading the piece when I lay it on a table or place it on the floor in front of me.  I got a bulletin board and tacked the pieces up on the wall, so I can keep a decent head level and still read/look at the piece while I play.  The last is rewriting.  I remember things much better after I have written them (sometimes several times) in my own hand writing.  I don't caligraph them or anything.  I just use a ball point pen and write the lines I am working on a few times before and after playing. 

Having a CD player and replaying the piece over and over again could help too, I suppose, but I don't really want to try to sound just like someone else.  Considering I've only played for four or five months, should I reconsider that and try to play more like what I hear on recordings?


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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#8 2008-07-08 09:45:05

Bruce Hunter
Member
From: Apple Valley CA
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 258

Re: memorizing honkyoku

Another tack for you to try is...
Work on the last "phrase" (breath). When that's familiar, add the next to the last phrase to it. When that starts working, add the phrase before that. This way, the piece is becoming more familiar the further you get into it. Works for some, may not work for you, but worth a shot, and another techniques to try. Anything that keeps you working on the piece is a good thing.

Gambatte!


Develop infallible technique and then lay yourself at the mercy of inspiration. - Anon.

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#9 2008-07-08 11:48:33

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

Re: memorizing honkyoku

http://img140.imageshack.us/img140/667/musicstandgr6.jpg

And excellent accessory for your music environment.

Totally portable: no need to take the wall along.

Folds into a small package.

Almost infinitely adjustable.

About 15 bucks at your local music store.


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

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#10 2008-07-08 14:08:39

lowonthetotem
Member
From: Cape Coral, FL
Registered: 2008-04-05
Posts: 529
Website

Re: memorizing honkyoku

And excellent accessory for your music environment.

Actually, that still requires looking down at the music, which seems to really hinder me.  With the bulletin board I can kneel and look UP at the piece which seems to help a great deal.  Even if adjusted low, the stand still relies on its "back pitch" to hold the music on the tray.  That angle seemed to obstruct a great deal when looking at it from below.  I appreciate the suggestion, but posting the stuff on the wall really seems to work best for me.  Besides, I got the bulletin board for less than $5.


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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#11 2008-07-08 14:21:24

Mujitsu
Administrator/Flutemaker
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-05
Posts: 885
Website

Re: memorizing honkyoku

nyokai wrote:

When I memorize a piece I do it first in broad brushstrokes, not worrying about the exact ornaments and notes -- I get the overall shape of the sections and the flow of the piece. Then I go back and fill in what details I want. This approach may not work for everyone.

Jim Thompson wrote:

Get the big picture first. Probably a good way to approach anything.

Great points. When learning a piece, or learning to make a flute, or even learning a computer program, it seems natural for me to first attempt to grasp a sense of the whole. When I'm most comfortable learning, I find I'm not stressed about the unknowns. They fill in naturally over time.

What I find interesting (as Phil alluded to) is that not all people are wired this way. Some prefer a linear, step by step approach to absorb information. It's good to be reminded of those differences since I forget them sometimes!

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#12 2008-07-08 14:50:56

Moran from Planet X
Member
From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1524
Website

Re: memorizing honkyoku

lowonthetotem wrote:

Actually, that still requires looking down at the music, which seems to really hinder me.

Yes, pitching my head down to read shakuhachi music always seems contrary to the task.

Jim can corroborate or correct me on this: During an early lesson with Yoshizawa Masakazu concerning pitch (what lesson didn't I might ask?)

He had me look up to the ceiling --with my head at normal level-- for playing a regular tsu

and then look down toward my fingers on the flute when he wanted me to play tsu-chu-no-meri or tsu-no-meri. Pretty subtle but effective.

In order to read and play in pitch my music has to be at or above eye level ... It would look odd at a recital.


"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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#13 2008-07-08 16:01:14

Jim Thompson
Moderator
From: Santa Monica, California
Registered: 2007-11-28
Posts: 421

Re: memorizing honkyoku

Chris,
    Masa never sprung that one on me but I like it. I'll  be using that. I think the point of it is to get the old neck loosened up. Reading music definetly complicates the issue. In practice you can put the music where you want but in performance you have to keep it low. If it blocks the audience's view of your face or fingers it makes things less interesting. Sometimes you actually put the music on the floor (if you're sitting on the floor) and the audience gets to enjoy the top of your head.  Add progressive lens to the mix and it can become quite awkward. It's something you have to deal with.  I wish I had more guts for memorizing stuff. That solves it.


" Who do you trust , me or your own eyes?" - Groucho Marx

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#14 2008-07-15 09:56:48

lowonthetotem
Member
From: Cape Coral, FL
Registered: 2008-04-05
Posts: 529
Website

Re: memorizing honkyoku

I have Kyorei about half memorized, but I still haven't listened to it on recording.


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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#15 2008-07-15 10:19:00

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

Re: memorizing honkyoku

Iwonthetotem,

I'm trying to memorize Kyorei too (along with Japanese children's songs).  My teacher, Gishin, has a version of Kyorei on his myspace site, if you wanted to listen to it to see how it sounded.  I really think it helps to hear how something can sound.  It helps with the memorization.   Kyorei is a slippery fish though.  Being something of a Zen adherant you can probably appreciate that structural simplicity often hides great depths of complexity.  Kyoeri is like that.  It seems simple, but the sense of timing and more importantly perhaps, the emotional content, that special something you charge the notes with, makes it difficult.  Structurally simple: emotionally complex.  Well, others will disagre, but that's how I see it.   

Also check out Kifu's art of shakuhachi volume 2 (I think), for a powerful version of kyorei.  Stan Richardson's double CD is good too.  I can't remember which one has Kyorei on it, but he does a haunting rendition of it.  Hope that helps somewhat


Gravity is the root of grace

~ Lao Tzu~

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#16 2008-07-15 10:58:45

lowonthetotem
Member
From: Cape Coral, FL
Registered: 2008-04-05
Posts: 529
Website

Re: memorizing honkyoku

Thanks man.  There is a vid on youtube too with Tairaku and Kiko Day.  I actually broke down and bought downloads for the Kifu album and another by Ronnie Seldin. 

The later has versions of Koku, Mukaiji, and Kyorei.  In researching Kyorei a little, I came across a comentary that names these three as "linch-key" honkyoku.

I watched the youTube vid just now, and it seems I am near the timing.  Although, I am under the impression that the timing is reliant on the breath to some extent.  So, is there some "personal expression" in the timing of the piece as well?


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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#17 2008-07-15 17:49:21

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: memorizing honkyoku

lowonthetotem wrote:

I watched the youTube vid just now, and it seems I am near the timing.  Although, I am under the impression that the timing is reliant on the breath to some extent.  So, is there some "personal expression" in the timing of the piece as well?

Oh dear god the world IS coming to an end if people are using my videos as reference points smile

Kyorei uses kyosui which is simply breathing through the flute without any particular breath support or special technique. No vibrato. When I teach it to students I liken it to a golf swing. As with a good swing the ball simply gets in the way of the swing, in kyosui the flute gets in the way of a normal breath. So you just hold the flute in front of your face and breathe through it. The phrase lasts as long as a normal breath, you are not trying to use technique to extend it.

OK I just broke my personal rule not to teach technique on the forum, may the shakuhachi gods forgive me if this confuses anybody. sad


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#18 2008-07-15 20:47:21

marek
Member
From: Czech Republic
Registered: 2007-03-02
Posts: 189
Website

Re: memorizing honkyoku

suidan? kyosui? are they the same?


In passionate silence, the sound is what I'm after.

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#19 2008-07-15 21:08:54

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: memorizing honkyoku

marek wrote:

suidan? kyosui? are they the same?

No.

Kyosui is a particular kind of blowing with no special techniques such as komibuki, sasabuki, furi, yuri or any of the other ornaments.

Suidan is the concept that the phrase lasts for the length of one breath, but it could involve any blowing style.

Your teacher Vlastislav is an expert on Kyorei, most likely he uses kyosui to blow that song.

Anyway that's what we call that blowing technique in the Jin Nyodo school, I don't know if it has other names in other ryu. Maybe one of our numerous Ph.D. ethnomusicology experts can shed more light on the subject.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#20 2008-07-15 21:36:40

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

Re: memorizing honkyoku

hey Brian,

So when I look at a piece of kinko notation, and there is a vertical line running through several of the notes, connecting them into one breath, is that line the same thing as Suidan, i.e. the duration of a single breath, or am a way off and totally confused.  I kinda/sorta think I know what you mean, but am not sure


Gravity is the root of grace

~ Lao Tzu~

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#21 2008-07-15 21:48:00

Jim Thompson
Moderator
From: Santa Monica, California
Registered: 2007-11-28
Posts: 421

Re: memorizing honkyoku

Lorka
   You can look at the notes with a single vertical lines running through them as 1/8th notes. If two lines, 1/16th notes.  They mean the same thing as the lines along side the notes in Tozan. Oddly enough, it corresponds to the western notation with one flag- 1/8th or two flags being 1/16th notes. If you don't read western notation I guess this explanation won't help.

Last edited by Jim Thompson (2008-07-15 21:49:07)


" Who do you trust , me or your own eyes?" - Groucho Marx

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#22 2008-07-15 21:51:47

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

Re: memorizing honkyoku

Lorka, the vertical line is a note-duration indicator, and generally indicates that the duration of the notes tied together by that line are half that of notes that have no line but have alternating beat indicators consecutively appearing on both right and left sides as the music as read.   For example, if you interpreted notes that are only indicated by beat marks appearing consecutively on the right and left sides of notes as a western quarter note, then notes tied by one vertical line would be considered the same as eighth notes in a relative sense.  Two vertical lines tying a string of notes together would then be considered the same as sixteenth notes, etc.  Hope that helps.  This vertical line doesn't necessarily represent a single breath.  There are times when notes tied together in this way are separated by a breath mark.


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

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#23 2008-07-15 21:58:04

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

Re: memorizing honkyoku

Ahh, okay.  Actually, that does help me to understand it a bit more.  I don't read western notation at all.  But I get some of the concepts.  Thanks Jeff for the explanation.  It helped alot.  So now that's more clear what the heck is suidan then? Sounds kinda like the younger brother of suizen.  I think I was way off, but it sounds interesting.


Gravity is the root of grace

~ Lao Tzu~

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#24 2008-07-15 22:36:05

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

Re: memorizing honkyoku

Tairaku wrote:

Suidan is the concept that the phrase lasts for the length of one breath, but it could involve any blowing style.


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

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#25 2008-07-16 05:13:40

marek
Member
From: Czech Republic
Registered: 2007-03-02
Posts: 189
Website

Re: memorizing honkyoku

Tairaku wrote:

marek wrote:

suidan? kyosui? are they the same?

Suidan is the concept that the phrase lasts for the length of one breath, but it could involve any blowing style.

Thanks Brian
I wanted to have this clear since this is actually the first time I heard the term kyosui. Yes, my teacher plays Kyorei like that, yet after playing with this composition so many times, I realised that he likes to make some phrases particualrly long.


In passionate silence, the sound is what I'm after.

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