Mujitsu and Tairaku's Shakuhachi BBQ

World Shakuhachi Discussion / Go to Live Shakuhachi Chat

You are not logged in.


Tube of delight!

#1 2008-12-08 11:03:20

david
Member
Registered: 2006-07-25
Posts: 71

playing in the snow?

I hope this is a good place to put this. What precautions do i need to take when playing outside in the winter? I know that it is done and also know of the fragile bamboo.


david
'Listen to the words of no man; listen only to the sounds of the wind and the waves of the sea.,~Claude Debussy

Offline

 

#2 2008-12-08 11:38:31

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

Re: playing in the snow?

Wear a warm hat, and eschew mittens.


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

Offline

 

#3 2008-12-08 13:42:13

geni
Performer & Teacher
From: Boston MA
Registered: 2005-12-21
Posts: 830
Website

Re: playing in the snow?

don`t use your expensive shakuhachi. A Yuu will do the job fine.

Offline

 

#4 2008-12-08 16:19:08

Elliot K
Member
From: Santa Rosa, CA
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 132
Website

Re: playing in the snow?

Definitely the Yuu... A sudden drop in temp is a quick road to cracking bamboo. I know this from experience - fortunately NOT with a shakuhachi. I built a short section of bamboo fencing for a walkway and started watering some plants on a warm day. Cool water hit the bamboo that was nice and warm from the sunlight and, CRACK! It made a lasting impression on my flute storage and transportation habits...
You could also approach this Riley-style: Don a loincloth (and nothing else) and try playing under a waterfall that's a few degrees away from freezing! big_smile

Offline

 

#5 2008-12-08 17:35:47

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

Re: playing in the snow?

weird you should mention this David.  Well, I guess no so weird considering there is an abundance of snow for some of us.  Where I live there is plenty of the white stuff. 

I think the posts about using a Yuu are wise indeed, and well worth listening to.  That being said, I took a bamboo shakuhachi out into my snow covered balcony, in -15 celsius conditions, and did a little improvisation the other night.  Luckily for me there were no cracks.  I just felt it would be okay, and it was.  I have done this with the Yuu, but it feels different on bamboo.  As you breath through the bamboo you can feel (and see) the breath escaping from the shakuhachi in great clouds.  The cold conditions also seem to let the sound carry quite beautifully.  I won't be doing this too often, but it was fun.


Gravity is the root of grace

~ Lao Tzu~

Offline

 

#6 2008-12-08 20:17:40

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 402
Website

Re: playing in the snow?

Ed, did you really stop chewing on your mittens? 

The freezing falling water?  Our shower in Laramie, Wyoming was always just a few points from freezing.


Michael Chikuzen Gould

Offline

 

#7 2008-12-09 02:35:45

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3226
Website

Re: playing in the snow?

It's dry, not cold, which can crack the bamboo. Remember bamboo will have already gone through freezing many times before even being made into a flute.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

Offline

 

#8 2008-12-09 12:08:09

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

Re: playing in the snow?

Tairaku wrote:

It's dry, not cold, which can crack the bamboo. Remember bamboo will have already gone through freezing many times before even being made into a flute.

Well, cold will do it too, especially if it's rapid change in temperature. When the boo was in the ground, it had it own internal flowing moisture, which made it much more resilient and flexible in the face of temperature changes.


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

Offline

 

#9 2008-12-09 13:26:37

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

Re: playing in the snow?

edosan wrote:

Well, cold will do it too, especially if it's rapid change in temperature.

Also keep in mind that it is very difficult to avoid the rapid change in temperature when you're blowing 98 degree Fahrenheit air into a sub-room-temperature flute. I had a transverse bamboo flute crack on me once when I tried playing in an enclosed room that wasn't heated. It probably wasn't a dryness issue there. I'm not sure, but I have a hunch that thicker madake might stand a better chance of surviving than black bamboo that's already known to be prone to cracking. If you really want to play in cold weather with bamboo it might be a good idea to have some topical bindings on the flute to help avoid cracking. I know that it seems like a great idea to play outside, but weighing risks and rewards, if it's real cold out you're going to be risking your flute cracking for about 15 minutes of playing before frostbite starts impeding the movement of your fingers. Is it really worth it?


"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

Offline

 

#10 2008-12-09 13:58:04

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

Re: playing in the snow?

radi0gnome wrote:

Is it really worth it?

My guess is that just as much could be accomplished by whistling....


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

Offline

 

#11 2008-12-09 18:13:15

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3226
Website

Re: playing in the snow?

This is anecdotal but I've never had problems with flutes cracking when I played in the snow in NYC or Milwaukee.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

Offline

 

#12 2008-12-09 20:01:27

madoherty
Moderator
Registered: 2008-03-15
Posts: 366

Re: playing in the snow?

A friend of mine who plays suling in a gamelan had mentioned to me once that it was the difference in temperature between the breath and the bamboo, external vs. internal, temperature that causes two different rate of contraction and expansion, leading to cracking of the bamboo.  Those suling are a slight thing in comparison with the mighty shakuhachi, but has stuck in my mind ever since.

Michael

Offline

 

#13 2008-12-09 21:45:10

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

Re: playing in the snow?

Like Tairaku, I have never had a problem with playing in the cold or snow, and I do it a lot.
Of course it just might be chance that I've had no problem, but I never hesitate to play expensive bamboo shakuhachi out in the snow.

Offline

 

#14 2008-12-10 00:06:19

Riley Lee
Moderator
From: Manly NSW Australia
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 78
Website

Re: playing in the snow?

When I was studying shakuhachi in Japan in the early 1970s, I kept hearing of shakuhachi players of old doing mind-over-matter things, such as playing outside in the freezing snow until icicles formed from the bottom of their flutes. One particularly cold night on Sado Island (during a blizzard, probably close to -10 C, not counting the wind chill factor), I decided to test this story for myself. I cut off the fingers of some old gloves - thinking that would allow me to feel the finger holes better (hah!) and went outside with my best (only) 1.8 flute. Facing the wind, tears in my eyes, I began to play.

I may however, be stretching the meaning of the word, when I say that I "played" my shakuhachi. My fingers went numb moments after going outside, so I couldn't feel the holes. I soon gave up even trying to play a piece. The wind, coming straight from Siberia over the Japan Sea, was blowing so fiercely that I could barely make sounds - just a few weak upper octave notes that were ripped away immediately by the wind. I felt breathless and could only sustain these sounds for brief seconds. I could hardly hear the sounds that I did make, amongst all the carryings on of the blizzard.

AND YET!! After blowing into my flute for what seemed like a very long time (I have no idea how long - minutes?), I had created an icicle about 5-6 cm long. Wow! How cool was that!?!! It had formed at the bottom of the flute, from the moisture in my breath. You frequently see pictures of people with icicles forming on their beards, etc. Similar thing, I suppose.

I rushed inside and excitedly showed the others, none of whom were impressed in the slightest. My efforts certainly didn't make me a better shakuhachi player, but the story has been very popular with the publicists over the decades.

During my time in Japan, I often practiced in temperatures approaching 0 C, though in a blizzard only that once. Our lodgings and rehearsal space on Sado were not heated and we also practised outdoors throughout the year. I never had a flute crack on Sado. As others have said, it seems to be sudden changes in temperature/humidity that make the bamboo crack, not low, or high temperatures per se.

[I should add that on average, winters on Sado Island are mild compared to the continental winters of much of the world. I haven't experienced playing outside in REALLY cold weather.]

What I think really did help my playing, in contrast to that icicle stunt, and this too has been stated previously by others on this forum, was practising outdoors, especially in a wind, even a weak one. It's very difficult to make good sounds, particularly with a crosswind, but I think trying to do so helped me develop a stronger and more controlled embouchure. It also helped me associate 'nature' with what I was playing. In that sense, maybe even my icicle experience was a worthwhile one.

Last edited by Riley Lee (2008-12-10 06:42:35)

Offline

 

#15 2008-12-10 10:58:53

Yungflutes
Flutemaker/Performer
From: New York City
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 1061
Website

Re: playing in the snow?

Hey Riley,

Riley Lee wrote:

I rushed inside and excitedly showed the others, none of whom were impressed in the slightest. My efforts certainly didn't make me a better shakuhachi player, but the story has been very popular with the publicists over the decades.

Thanks for shedding light on your mythology!

During my time in Japan, I often practiced in temperatures approaching 0 C, though in a blizzard only that once. Our lodgings and rehearsal space on Sado were not heated and we also practised outdoors throughout the year. I never had a flute crack on Sado. As others have said, it seems to be sudden changes in temperature/humidity that make the bamboo crack, not low, or high temperatures per se.

Yes, I've had a cold thin walled flute suddenly crack when a warm breath was blown into it. I've played root end shakuhachi in the snow many times with no problems.

What I think really did help my playing, in contrast to that icicle stunt, and this too has been stated previously by others on this forum, was practising outdoors, especially in a wind, even a weak one. It's very difficult to make good sounds, particularly with a crosswind, but I think trying to do so helped me develop a stronger and more controlled embouchure. It also helped me associate 'nature' with what I was playing. In that sense, maybe even my icicle experience was a worthwhile one.

I test my flutes out doors on my fire escape to see if the sound has any weight next to honking taxis. But, I recently had a rude awakening  when I joined my brother in a Taiko performance in San Francisco this summer. It was on a windy stage and I kept having to turn away from the wind to get a sound. Unfortunately, the mic was in a fixed position so my sound on and off either way. Perhaps the best thing to do in a windy situation is to let it become part of the Ma smile

Best, Perry


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

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

Offline

 

#16 2008-12-11 00:33:10

axolotl
Member
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 2007-11-16
Posts: 215
Website

Re: playing in the snow?

Geez, Riley, next you're going to tell us you only ran a 5k and then played the bongos.  wink

--

Okay, I found playing in the wind to be VERY informative.  Above a certain windspeed it's impossible, but playing in outdoor windy places like Point Lobos and the summit of Mt. Langley were interesting exercises in mental and physical focus--and also in surrendering to the elements, which took away my notes more often than not.  This sometimes leads to the rather unromantic position of playing with one's back to the lovely vista of the sea/valley/etc upon which you'd like to gaze (looks good for onlookers, I suppose).  That's the Ma calling, I guess. 

I haven't had the pleasure of playing in the snow; last time I was in a snowy place was strictly for snowboarding, but the acoustics of a snowy open place have a certain amazing quality (clich├ęd terms like 'breathtaking' and 'crisp' come to mind) that I think would really enhance one's sound.  Until one's fingers and lips froze, of course.

Offline

 

#17 2009-01-18 05:50:34

froggyantbear
Member
Registered: 2008-12-28
Posts: 12

Re: playing in the snow?

"Geez, Riley, next you're going to tell us you only ran a 5k and then played the bongos."

Hey that is pretty hard too OK? When was the last time you say a bongo player do that in a pub or club? Personally, I will be very impressed when someone pulls that stunt.

Anyway, Like any shakuhachi player, have been mystified by stories of the great Riley playing in snow barefooted, or running cold water,

or like me saw riley getting stung by heaps of jellyfish and still playing the shakuhachi without a twitch or a moment of hesitation to scratch the itch.

But anyway, being a hardcore taiko player, quite foolishly tried the playing in the snow barefooted stunt. I only played for 3 minutes, and there was no wind, sound wise, I could easily produce a good simple sound. But obviously soon enough i couldn't feel my feet, and frost bite sets in plus i fell down in a ditch of snow trying to save my shakuhachi from getting wet. The romance of playing and hardcore training fast faded, with a wet bum and clothes, fingers bruised with stopping my fall.

Did Riley really play barefooted in the snow?Or was it media? and how would you train? any suggestions?

Offline

 

#18 2009-01-23 23:01:35

geminishadow79
Member
From: Orono Maine
Registered: 2009-01-21
Posts: 43

Re: playing in the snow?

If you get a crack in your flute, is that the end of it, or is there a way to repair it?

Offline

 

#19 2009-01-23 23:13:20

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

Re: playing in the snow?

geminishadow79 wrote:

If you get a crack in your flute, is that the end of it, or is there a way to repair it?

Donna,

It's not the end at all. Even severe cracks and splits can be repaired easily. Here is a link to an earlier post about this. For much more, search "crack" or "crack repair" using the search function.

http://www.shakuhachiforum.com/viewtopic.php?id=354

Offline

 

Board footer

Powered by PunBB
© Copyright 2002–2005 Rickard Andersson

Google