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#1 2010-03-02 22:11:07

Mike Raftery
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2008-10-25
Posts: 44

Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

While listening to honkyoku pieces played by Katsuya Yokoyama I have noticed more notes being played than indicated on the score. So there maybe a two-note phrase like,  U-RI, but I can distinctly hear more than those two notes.    And then while viewing Bruce Huebner's "Kinko Honkyoku Shakuhachi, A lesson in English Volume 3", he mentioned this  understood custom of playing an "approach note", even though the score does not indicate this note--though it is understood.   Is there any method to this? How does one figure out which notes one plays an approach note to and which ones one doesn't  play an approach note?  Are there any published papers on this subject, published pamplets one could purchase?

Cutting a path thru the dense thicket of notation

Last edited by Mike Raftery (2010-03-02 22:13:34)

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#2 2010-03-03 01:01:18

Mike Raftery
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2008-10-25
Posts: 44

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

So one must be instructed to play honkyoku and can not learn it on their own?   that makes sense, since initially these pieces were past down aurally before they were written down. Isn't this what your saying, anyshak, by listening to recordings? Recordings as teacher?  I'm just attempting to ascertain how far I can get on by utilizing all the various guides, videos, recordings and any other teaching devices that might instruct.  Too bad there are not more of these videos like Huebner's, though perhaps with more direction and mention re the decorative notes and nuances of honkyoku,  to aid the self-learners.

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#3 2010-03-03 07:30:59

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

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Mike Raftery wrote:

So one must be instructed to play honkyoku and can not learn it on their own?   that makes sense, since initially these pieces were past down aurally before they were written down. Isn't this what your saying, anyshak, by listening to recordings? Recordings as teacher?  I'm just attempting to ascertain how far I can get on by utilizing all the various guides, videos, recordings and any other teaching devices that might instruct.  Too bad there are not more of these videos like Huebner's, though perhaps with more direction and mention re the decorative notes and nuances of honkyoku,  to aid the self-learners.

Mike, you live in San Francisco. That's one of the best represented areas outside of Japan for proper shakuhachi instruction. Contact one or more of the teachers there and get some lessons. A lot of the people here on the forum have no opportunity to study with a live teacher. Take advantage of the richness around you. There are also koto and shamisen players you can study with. If I lived in SF I'd be getting lessons every week and I'm a teacher myself. There's always someone who knows something you don't.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#4 2010-03-03 07:52:53

Mike Raftery
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2008-10-25
Posts: 44

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Yes.  I will seek out a teacher in time, and have worked with a local teacher for approx one year.   I'm just inquiring as to what is available in the arena for the self-taught.

To return to the question about approach notes, are they the same as sounding a note? And are they played only at the beginning of a phrase as opposed to in the middle of one?  For example, is U always approached with another note, I think, CHI?

On another matter, the person who keeps hacking into my account to display an avatar using my last name must be having some fun.  But I would appreciate it if you would allow me to pick my own.  And why don't you send me an email and we can discuss this adolescent behavior some more, I was a kid once too.

Last edited by Mike Raftery (2010-03-03 17:13:38)

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#5 2010-03-03 09:36:47

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

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Mike Raftery wrote:

I'm just inquiring as to what is available in the arena for the self-taught.

Grace notes are fun to play around with on any flute and particularly keyless flutes like shakuhachi. Very simply put you can either quickly lift a finger and replace it or quickly place a finger and remove it. Just a little more complicated is that if you use the last closed or unclosed to do the grace note, all you end up doing is dividing the note. That's useful in itself, and is essentially what atari is, or you can sort of bounce the finger as you place it to get a real pair of grace notes. However, you can get some different grace notes in there by quickly lifting and replacing the finger one above the last closed hole. For instance, if you are going from chi to re as soon as you place the finger on hole 3 to sound re, quickly lift and replace the finger over hole 4.

I don't know for sure if what I described is used in Japanese music, but it sounds decent on shakuhachi and variations of those techniques are common to many types of flutes. This guy is doing something similar with a penny whistle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1CQqbT0bIw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_VCDA1yYco

To get exactly what they're doing in recordings is going to be tough. Not only are these notes very fast, even if you slow them down digitally they are often fuzzy and it's hard to tell exactly what fingering was used.


"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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#6 2010-03-03 10:10:30

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

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Is there any method to this?

Isn't that the $64,000 question.  Each time I go over a score with my teacher, the score becomes more and more confused with scribbles ... in a good way of course.


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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#7 2010-03-03 11:19:54

Matt Lyon
Member
From: North Eastern Oregon
Registered: 2009-06-30
Posts: 92

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Mike Raftery wrote:

Yes.  I will seek out a teacher in time, and have worked with a local teacher for approx one year.   I'm just inquiring as to what is available in the arena for the self-taught.

To return to the question about approach notes, are they the same as sounding a note? And are they played only at the beginning of a phrase as opposed to in the middle of one?  For example, is U always approached with another note, I think, CHI?

On another matter, the person who keeps hacking into my account to display an avatar using my last name must be having some fun.  But I would appreciate it if YOU would allow me to pick my own.  And don't YOU send me an email and we can discuss this adolescent behavior some more, I was a kid once too.

In my limited experience the grace notes and even how you pop the holes are different from song to song. One song you may pop re on #3 then on another you will pop it by hitting #2 then quickly to hitting #3 or and you can pop it with #4 as well. Each song has it's differences even if the notes and transitions look the same.

As for U, here are a couple of examples. You can simply pop it before starting which may be the chi you are hearing. You can start at U dai meri and slide up, or slide up and pop. You can pop with #4 or #3 depending on the song as well. So I would say that U is approached in may different ways and it would be safe to say that there is no hard and fast rule anywhere when playing the shakuhachi.

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#8 2010-03-04 00:25:04

Mike Raftery
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2008-10-25
Posts: 44

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

So approach notes, are grace notes, are decorative notes, are sounding a note..all mean the same thing. Its coming together. Coming in from work I been trying out the poping of U and Re using the different fingerings suggested and its sounds like what I'm hearing in the pieces. At least, it has the right feel and spacing to it.  Though I'm still not clear as to when to pop a note. It has been said here that there are no set rules, yes, and that much of these nuances, embellishments, decorative notes are picked up through working with a teacher.  So it can't be said in any definitive way when playing U, for example, one should always do a grace note first? No set custom on this? It is learned through working with a teacher? So grace notes are added only after one has intuitively grasped the inner dynamics of a piece through work with a teacher,  so that only then will one be able to place the grace note/decorative note/embellishment in its proper place there-by adding to the over all beauty and depth of the piece.  Is this what I hearing? 

About those unsolicited avatars and my response, a couple of you have written to me privately about.  I did at first feel a sense of invasion thinking, How did someone get into my account or Why is someone doing this?  At first I ignored it but then another appeared so I responded.  Now, I learn, it is a kind of custom here on the list to play around with new members, (though I've actually been around for one and a half years now)
It did get a rise out of me, I guess, though I really wasn't too upset, my tone may of been..a little sharp?  Hope I didn't offend anyone.  I do consider myself seriously in pursuit of shakuhachi, even if I don't currently have a teacher, and really appreciate all the fine, knowledgeable and, I'm gonna say it--teaching responses-- I get from this list when I ask questions.  This is a fine place to hang out when those shakuhachi blues come a callin.  I have always felt and perceived classical shakuhachi music to represent old Japan's love of the blues, the blues perceived in the  same sense we here in America have come to understand the blues--mournful tones of aloneness and loneliness that come from deep inside one's self or, collectively from one's cultural group, that represent the essence, for me, of what it feels like to be human.

Last edited by Mike Raftery (2010-03-04 00:30:34)

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#9 2010-03-04 01:49:24

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

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Mike Raftery wrote:

About those unsolicited avatars and my response, a couple of you have written to me privately about.  I did at first feel a sense of invasion thinking, How did someone get into my account or Why is someone doing this?  At first I ignored it but then another appeared so I responded.  Now, I learn, it is a kind of custom here on the list to play around with new members, (though I've actually been around for one and a half years now)
It did get a rise out of me, I guess, though I really wasn't too upset, my tone may of been..a little sharp?  Hope I didn't offend anyone.

That's OK Mike but it is in the rules:

"Avatars

Put up an avatar when you join the forum. If you don't you will be given a temporary avatar until you get one together."

Actually I just put that in the rules about 2 minutes ago wink but it's there now!

No invasiveness, I just think with over a thousand members we need some visual cues or the pages load and look all the same. Using someone's name as an avatar is not exactly provocative. And if you've been around for 1 1/2 years and didn't put one up I figured you needed a bit of help.

Sorry I razzed you about wanting to know what teaching materials will take you where in your studies, but the fact is that self-teaching works a lot better after you know how to play than when you're trying to learn how to play. "Best Way" is study first, then teach yourself, not the other way around.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#10 2010-03-04 07:09:03

Zakarius
Member
From: Taichung, TAIWAN
Registered: 2006-04-12
Posts: 361

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

andyshak wrote:

The wonderful advice given to me was:
"........you must become your own teacher. Record your playing. If you listen and are happy with your playing of a piece,  happy 100 times , then that is sufficient..........".

This is a real gem. Thanks.

Zak


塵も積もれば山となる -- "Chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru." -- Piled-up specks of dust become a mountain.

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#11 2010-03-04 14:45:13

Mike Raftery
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2008-10-25
Posts: 44

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Tairaku wrote:
"No invasiveness, I just think with over a thousand members we need some visual cues or the pages load and look all the same. Using someone's name as an avatar is not exactly provocative. And if you've been around for 1 1/2 years and didn't put one up I figured you needed a bit of help.

Sorry I razzed you about wanting to know what teaching materials will take you where in your studies, but the fact is that self-teaching works a lot better after you know how to play than when you're trying to learn how to play. "Best Way" is study first, then teach yourself, not the other way around."

I'm not upset about what you have, or what anyone else here has had to say about teachers being necessary. BTW, I am not anti-teacher. Anyway, it  was more a feeling of my private space being invaded by a hacker that thru me, at first.  Maybe there can be other ways to alert newcomers about the need for picture icons--perhaps a simple email?  Ah the ego is such a tender ewe bruised so easily.  As Yokoyama mentioned in a recent interview that was posted on the forum here about not having dissolved his ego yet, well, I can say, neither have I.  I am still a-workin on that one, amongst other things.

Other than John Singer, Philip Gelb and Masayuki Koga, do you know of any other teachers in SF area?

I like this one, it reminds of the Japan.

Last edited by Mike Raftery (2010-03-04 15:17:50)

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#12 2010-03-04 21:28:09

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

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Hi Mike,
Your observations about the small tones that are typically heard before more prolonged tones with respect to them being things that are played as a matter of acquired sensibility are right.  The nature of the manner of transmission dictates your reality.  If you have one teacher, you will probably become versed and emulate your teacher's methods.  If you learn from recordings, you will likely become confused quickly, especially if you listen to and try to understand a variety of players' techniques and playing styles.  If the latter is your method, it would be best to be armed with the knowledge that there are no definitive methods or techniques.  Historically, there were many players in isolation who developed their own styles which became evident as time progressed and people started to move around.  None of this has really homogenized into one simple set of playing rules in Japan yet.  However, large schools like Kinko or Tozan have brought certain principles into play that are largely accepted and adhered to. 
With respect to grace notes, there is no particular rule about their use and they are rarely written into the music, though at times they are.  With respect to lead notes (longer in duration than grace notes or atari) again, they are rarely written into the music and are often used as a matter of acquired sensitivity.  That being said, they are sometimes written in.  With regard to trailing notes, they are often pictographically written into music and aren't really considered independent notes at all, but rather an aspect of nuance of the note they are attached to.  From this description, you might understand that what you are identifying from a recording as a distinct tone or note might not be that at all.  As such, your questions might be attempting to address something that are in fact addressed in other ways of understanding in the craft.
In short, my suggestion is to equip yourself with the language of the instrument through instruction from a qualified teacher.  Save yourself the headache.  From that, many questions will be answered and new questions will be formed.


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

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#13 2010-03-05 00:06:42

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

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

GREAT answer, Jeff.


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

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#14 2010-03-05 10:56:30

Mike Raftery
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2008-10-25
Posts: 44

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Thank you Jeff for this reply. So grace notes are different from approach notes, and both are different from atari,  mostly never notated, and a matter of acquired sensitivity.  This says a lot. I feel I understand about the trailing notes being written into the notation, and being a part of the previous played note.  And since there are no definitive methods or techniques, specific "customs" to playing honkyoku are transmitted to the student from teacher.   

The shakuhachi must of, it seems to me, always have had players/monks who developed their individual styles in isolation.  Listening to this incredible music the predominant image that appears in my minds eye is the monk, alone in nature, perhaps after returning to his hut after a day of work in his garden, foraging in the forest for mushrooms and nuts, sitting by the hut's open door in the evening time, picking up his shakuhachi and playing his rendition of  Sanan, or one of this other awesome pieces that we all have inherited from these old-timers. I feel humbled listening to this music and just a little embarrassed thinking I am even attempting to play it. 

But feel I must try, it fits my lifestyle.

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#15 2010-03-05 13:05:13

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

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Mike Raftery wrote:

But feel I must try, it fits my lifestyle.

What? Working in the garden, foraging for mushrooms?  smile


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

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#16 2010-03-06 16:10:29

Mike Raftery
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2008-10-25
Posts: 44

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Yes edosan, except I do my gardening on a psych ward and my foraging in the aisles of Trader Joes.  But come the evening I am at my hut's door feeling about for my shakuhachi.  No longer encumbered by the preoccupations of my youth.

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#17 2010-03-06 17:20:32

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

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Mike Raftery wrote:

No longer encumbered by the preoccupations of my youth.

Nor I, by a long chalk...


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

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#18 2010-03-14 00:09:36

Mike Raftery
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2008-10-25
Posts: 44

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

In playing U I'm find if I start/approach with CHI then meri and cover 1 and 2, and maybe add a little yuri, that I like the way this sounds.  And Matt, you say U can be approached in many ways, is this not one of them?  I've been practicing this today, a nice little nuance?  And I'm still trying to get down what Yokoyama is doing in those first 2 notes of Azuma Jishi.  I can't wait to get to the main body of the piece , that should take of rest of 2010

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#19 2010-03-15 00:52:10

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

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Mike Raftery wrote:

Thank you Jeff for this reply. So grace notes are different from approach notes, and both are different from atari,  mostly never notated, and a matter of acquired sensitivity.

Mike, I think that my point was that you need to equip yourself with the terminology of the shakuhachi.  The word 'grace note' doesn't exist in a traditional sense, although it might be equated with atari.  I would suggest that you forget about 'grace note' and call it atari.  Then you only have atari and what you call 'approaching notes'.  I have a question:  are you reading the music you are attempting to play?


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

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#20 2010-03-15 15:03:03

Mike Raftery
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2008-10-25
Posts: 44

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Jeff, yes, I am reading the music. I recently purchase a complete set of honkyoku scores, CDs and fingering chart, with notes by Yokoyama senise,  from Monty.   I'm working on Azuma Jishi--the first few lines.  And just trying to imitate the sounds I'm hearing in the opening notes, U to RI has been quite a learning experience.  I have been told by others to just play the notes straight at first, so that's how I'm working with this piece now.  There are just so many other sounds Yokoyama is putting out, and his speed and volume is amazing.  What is he doing with his TSU's?  It sounds like every time he comes to TSU in this piece there are several other notes being played around it, within it, next to it, on top of it, I don't know..  The CDs that came with the package are entitled, "Shakhuhachi Koten Honkyoku", Vol I & II.  Beautiful recordings with none of that echo chamber/reverb sound I have heard on other CDs.  Says they were recorded in an old wooden school house, totally natural acoustics.

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#21 2010-03-15 17:39:54

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

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Mike Raftery wrote:

Jeff, yes, I am reading the music. I recently purchase a complete set of honkyoku scores, CDs and fingering chart, with notes by Yokoyama senise,  from Monty.   I'm working on Azuma Jishi--the first few lines.  And just trying to imitate the sounds I'm hearing in the opening notes, U to RI has been quite a learning experience.  I have been told by others to just play the notes straight at first, so that's how I'm working with this piece now.  There are just so many other sounds Yokoyama is putting out, and his speed and volume is amazing.  What is he doing with his TSU's?  It sounds like every time he comes to TSU in this piece there are several other notes being played around it, within it, next to it, on top of it, I don't know..  The CDs that came with the package are entitled, "Shakhuhachi Koten Honkyoku", Vol I & II.  Beautiful recordings with none of that echo chamber/reverb sound I have heard on other CDs.  Says they were recorded in an old wooden school house, totally natural acoustics.

All that detail stuff is why you will eventually require a teacher. The Devil (and Heaven) is in them details...more important now to ignore them, for the most part.


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

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#22 2010-03-15 20:21:03

Mike Raftery
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2008-10-25
Posts: 44

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Yes, yes, edosan,  I understand a teacher is mandatory.  But can't we just discuss what Yokoyama sensei does in his playing?  In other words, break it down..for discussion sake?   Lord knows the devil is in the details, especially as they relate to shakuhachi,and I see nothing wrong with a neophyte like myself asking questions on a list for shakuhachi players and learners about shakuhachi, and all things shakuhachi. Is trying to analyze what is occurring in a piece of shakuhachi music played by a master not appropriate on this list? 

If someone would listen to Azuma Jishi and then try to explain in words what this Master of the shakuhachi is doing around his TSUs, that would be grand.  Of course this level of playing may not be analyzable, I can accept that.  But if it is, then why not attempt to  analyze it.  And hopefully be able to duplicate it.  Wouldn't that be helpful?

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#23 2010-03-15 22:59:33

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

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Mike Raftery wrote:

Of course this level of playing may not be analyzable, I can accept that.

Great.

End of story.    smile

Last edited by edosan (2010-03-15 23:02:18)


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

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#24 2010-03-15 23:06:03

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

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

edosan wrote:

End of story.    smile

WRONG! sad

End of History!


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#25 2010-03-16 00:25:52

Mike Raftery
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2008-10-25
Posts: 44

Re: Re: Understood Honkyoku Custom

Tairaku, are you saying that Yokoyama is the End of History in the sense that his playing is not categorically analyzable.  One can not talk about it, that it needs to be experienced only? But don't you try to break down what he is doing in a phrase he's playing, attempt to identify each pitch?  I find I naturally try to identify the notes, the techniques he is using, or of any player.., but I can also turn off that part of my head and just listen which, of course, is pure pleasure.

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