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I have been wondering when holes were first offset. It seems even the long jinashi of the Edo period had straight holes (all those I have seen at least). Even among modern shakuhachi there are some jiari 2.4 with straight holes. These were using the old hole system of even spacing, which makes it easier to use straight holes though resulting in a sharp chi. Tani-ha do the same also even to 3 shaku. Anyway, more common these days is to make the shakuhachi more playable by moving one or more holes to the side. Does anyone here know when that started, or who started it? What are the earliest examples of offset holes you have come across? Brian, you recently posted the Myoan 3.2 with offset holes. That shows us that it has been around for quite a while at least.
Last edited by Justin (2008-09-02 00:10:27)
Brian, you recently posted the Myoan 3.2 with offset holes. That shows us that it has been around for quite a while at least.
No that was a retrofit. It originally had inline holes.
I have seen Edo 2.7, 2.3, 2.2 and Meiji 2.4, 2.3 and they all had inline holes.
This Myoan 3.2 had inline holes but I moved 3 over because it was hurting my wrist and that particular hole was hideously out of tune anyway so I could kill two birds with one stone there. I showed it to Okuda Sensei. When I pointed out those problems he suggested that. Normally I wouldn't do that but I thought the flute was made by an amateur and had a few radical problems. Besides the too sharp sharp chi ro was also a half step flat. So we opened the end up a bit which corrected the pitch and the flute sounded much better. It was a difficult decision but the flute would have just been a curiosity otherwise. Okuda said, "Good bamboo, bad tuning, change it so you'll play it."
I think it might have been people like Yamaguchi Shugetsu, Miura Ryuho and John Neptune who popularized offset holes for long flutes. Ryuho made some 3.0's which had radical offsets. So the concept may not be older than 30 years or so. I haven't seen anything older than that which was offset.
edit: I just sent an email to John Singer and he said offsetting started in the 60's.
Right now I am looking at a pic of Watazumi which he has a 3.4 or 3.5 and the holes are inline. I have some long flutes by Gudo Ishibashi who makes Watazumi style flutes and the holes are always inline. Likewise my Tani Ha 2.6 has inline holes.
I think offset holes are for the people who approach it as a musical instrument (for greater speed and dexterity) and the people who approach it as a zen tool keep them inline because it is considered purer from an aesthetic point of view.
Did John mention any makers (in the 60's)?
3.4 or 3.5 - I wonder if he played it?
I have seen a pic of a shakuhachi of Watazumi's with offset holes also. I wonder if that is where Yokoyama got his influence/idea?
I think Yokoyama was unique in really seeing the shakuhachi as an instrument, so much so that he didn't mind what it looked like, so long as the music was good. Could it have been he who popularised this offsetting of holes then?