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#26 2010-08-18 23:38:14

Toby
Shakuhachi Scientist
From: out somewhere circling the sun
Registered: 2008-03-15
Posts: 405

Re: Off setting finger holes

edosan wrote:

Tairaku 太楽 wrote:

Are you disputing that people sometimes go for the offset holes without trying straight line holes first? Or that there is more than one way to hold a flute? What's your point here?

My point is simply that everyone's hands and way of playing are more or less different. I'd also add that, in about 18 years of playing, my 'ergonomic' requirements have changed hardly at all.

I do agree that it's also possible to improperly offset holes so as to cause problems for the player over time, but this is hardly a reason NOT to do it, if it's done properly.

There is an interesting thing going on over in the world of concert flutes and saxophones. And it has to do with the realization that "getting used" to a hand position does not automatically translate into maximum efficiency in an ergonomic sense.

This has got to be clear already from the perspective of high-performance sports, but it is becoming an issue in music as well. When Boehm first invented his flute, he made the G key--which is played by the third finger of the left hand--offset, so as to have a more comfortable hand position. When he authorized the French firm of Louis Lot to makes his flutes on the Continent, Lot made all the keys inline (as well as adding perforated keys). To make a long story short, the French model became the standard for professional flutes, while the English model with plateau keys and offset G became the model of student flutes. For about a century, professional players all turned their noses up at the offset G, even though it is quite a bit more comfortable for most people. Controlled studies have demonstrated that not only is the offset G more comfortable, it allows for faster finger movements and thus aids technique. Only in the last ten years has the onus of the offset G begun to disappear.

Saxes have gone through some major keywork changes in order to make the playing of certain notes more ergonomically efficient, and this is still a major point of evolution in the sax. Many players have custom key risers built or fitted in order to make the horn as comfortable as possible in their hands, and certain horns are generally shunned as uncomfortable by the majority of players (such as the disastrous Selmer Mk. VII)

Perhaps we don't need such fast fingers on the shakuhachi, but there are good reasons to place the holes in as comfortable a position as possible, and no good ones not to. Yes, yes...tradition and aesthetics....but let us not forget that in days of yore, holes were placed not only in line, but at equidistant spacing between the nodes for "aesthetic" reasons, and tuning be damned. I'm not hearing anyone calling for resurrecting that practice nowadays....

Toby

Last edited by Toby (2010-08-18 23:41:13)

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#27 2010-08-18 23:54:48

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3225
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Re: Off setting finger holes

I hear you Toby, but I'm saying that offset holes ARE more uncomfortable.

For me they are.

But luckily we are working with individual pieces of a very malleable material so people can put them wherever they want. No mass production here.

Obviously the comparison between side-blown and vertical flutes is apples and oranges. They are held and blown differently. I would guess that with side-blown, weight is also more of an issue.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

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#28 2010-08-22 22:59:30

Toby
Shakuhachi Scientist
From: out somewhere circling the sun
Registered: 2008-03-15
Posts: 405

Re: Off setting finger holes

I agree. People should do whatever suits them so that the less that gets between the sound in their mind and the sound produced, the better. I'm wondering about piper's grip. I find it quite difficult, but it is nearly indispensable when playing bansuri and dizi, since it allows easily for the shadings and glisses used on those instruments. I imagine that it would be difficult for some shakuhachi half-hole shadings. Anybody have any experience with that?

Toby

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