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#26 2007-08-12 22:26:32

Priapus Le Zen M☮nk
Historical Zen Mod
From: St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
Registered: 2006-04-25
Posts: 612
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Tairaku wrote:

A couple of notes pertaining to sections of this thread.

The Chinese madake I have encountered is not generally as good as the Japanese stuff.

And Kiku has informed me there is a Japanese word for "semi-jinashi" which is "ji mori" and wishes we would start using it around here! smile

When you say Chinese madake not being as good as the Japanese one what do you exactly mean? My feeling is that the source that sends the Chinese stuff out would be the cause. I am pretty sure that if a maker was to go to China or Korea and pick up the stuff himself they would be able to get some stuff  that is as good as the Japanese stuff. I remember Monty had some flutes that were made from madake that came out of Sichuan and some of them had a different feel to them but most were identical to the Japanese stuff.


Sebastien 義真 Cyr
春風館道場 Shunpukan Dojo
St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
http://www.myspace.com/shunpukandojo

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#27 2007-08-12 23:06:08

Harazda
Member
Registered: 2007-06-07
Posts: 126

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

I really like the Chinese rootend piece I got from Monty.  Made a 2.9 out of it.

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#28 2007-08-12 23:54:23

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

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Tairaku wrote:

And Kiku has informed me there is a Japanese word for "semi-jinashi" which is "ji mori" and wishes we would start using it around here! smile

I noticed, too, but didn't wanna say anything wink

kikuday wrote:

The Japanese kanji for madake is: 真竹
Whether they would use the same characters for it in Chinese, I don't know.

Thanks! I guess madake is 'REAL BAMBOO' (literal translation of the Chinese). I guess the moso I've recently come across must be the fake, spam-like variety big_smile

As far as Chinese and Japanese madake being different, I wouldn't be surprised -- even if they're the same varietal, climate will certainly play a part in the bamboo's growth speed, thickness, etc. Someone oughta do a double-blind test (ya know, like a Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola taster's choice) to see if there really is an empirical difference.

Zakarius


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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#29 2007-08-13 02:10:33

BrianP
Member
From: Ocala, FL
Registered: 2006-11-03
Posts: 289
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

I would think that bamboo which grew in a colder climate with poor soil quality would have a different characteristic than a piece of madake grown in a warm well fertilized area.  What the main differences are I could only speculate.  It would seem the colder poorer soil would grow slower and perhaps denser.  Madake as I understand it grows at a very rapid pace and it would seem that there must be something in both countries slowing down the rate of growth in order to make both crops viable for the making of flutes.  Does anyone know what the conditions in both growing areas are typically and how it affects bamboo's desireablility for shakuhachi?

BrianP


The Florida Shakuhachi Camp
http://www.floridashakuhachi.com
Brian's Shakuhachi Blog
http://gaijinkomuso.blogspot.com

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#30 2007-08-13 02:26:05

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3204
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Gishin wrote:

When you say Chinese madake not being as good as the Japanese one what do you exactly mean?

That when I play flutes made from both materials and by the same maker the Japanese ones are better. They also seem to price them that way. But I think the makers should chime in because they might have better information on this story. I am only referring to my personal experience. Of course in Japan they are used to picking madake specifically for shakuhachi whereas that idea is foreign in China. Maybe that has something to do with it. Generally the Chinese stuff seems thinner, lighter, brighter and with less depth of tone. A lot of times they are easy to play however which makes them nice for beginners. I've played some Chinese root shakuhachi by Ken and Perry which I liked quite a bit.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#31 2007-08-13 05:00:28

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

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Tairaku wrote:

Gishin wrote:

When you say Chinese madake not being as good as the Japanese one what do you exactly mean?

That when I play flutes made from both materials and by the same maker the Japanese ones are better. They also seem to price them that way.

It's quite possible that the makers, knowing that the price of materials and potential selling price are higher with Japanese madake, put more into them thus making them better instruments. (Or perhaps take less away...)

Zakarius


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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#32 2007-08-13 08:04:50

Harazda
Member
Registered: 2007-06-07
Posts: 126

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

BrianP - Monty informed me that the piece I got from him was from Sichuan province.  Looking at a map of the region, I assume that this bamboo grew somewhere close to the Yangtse river... which probably means pretty good soil.  Secondly, this region is further south in latitude than Japan.  Though next to Tibet, Sichuan is above Burma and Yunnan province.  It's probably considered "rice China" as opposed to "high China" or "wheat China," and is also most likely not considered a part of "dry China."  Just thought I'd throw that in...

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#33 2007-08-13 11:54:02

Mujitsu
Administrator/Flutemaker
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-05
Posts: 865
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Zakarius wrote:

It's quite possible that the makers, knowing that the price of materials and potential selling price are higher with Japanese madake, put more into them thus making them better instruments. (Or perhaps take less away...)

Zakarius

I've found bamboo to be honest. It's been my experience that I usually get what I pay or sweat for. As a flute maker, there is a part of me that thinks in functional terms. If I want material that will give me the best possible opportunity to make the best jinashi shakuhachi I can, I'll use Japanese Madake. I haven't found anything yet that, on the average, beats or equals it. If I'm concerned with making a decent, yet economical flute, I'll use Chinese bamboo. I have found higher grades of Chinese bamboo that might be close or equal to some Japanese Madake culms, but it's been the exception, not the rule.

Is this average quality difference based on climate, soil, or harvesting methods? Maybe yes and no. Maybe there is an alternative bamboo out there that is ideal for shakuhachi. If so, I'll use it. I can't say I've found it yet.

As always, these are just my observations.

Ken

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#34 2007-08-14 16:49:41

Yungflutes
Flutemaker/Performer
From: New York City
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 1040
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Tairaku wrote:

Gishin wrote:

When you say Chinese madake not being as good as the Japanese one what do you exactly mean?

That when I play flutes made from both materials and by the same maker the Japanese ones are better. They also seem to price them that way. But I think the makers should chime in because they might have better information on this story. I am only referring to my personal experience. Of course in Japan they are used to picking madake specifically for shakuhachi whereas that idea is foreign in China. Maybe that has something to do with it. Generally the Chinese stuff seems thinner, lighter, brighter and with less depth of tone. A lot of times they are easy to play however which makes them nice for beginners. I've played some Chinese root shakuhachi by Ken and Perry which I liked quite a bit.

Hi All,

In my experience of making Jinashi style shakuhachi in the way I
understand it, what country the bamboo comes from has nothing to
do with the technical facility of the flute as a musical instrument. What
does affect the playability are a good aspect ratio,
taper in the bore and whether it was a heavy piece with thick walls or light piece
with thin walls. The quality of playability is largely determined by
these natural aspects (after the length and utaguchi is cut and the
holes drilled and fashioned), which are determined by the growing
conditions of the grove and when the piece of bamboo was harvested -
age and season.

Now if we are talking about visual aesthetics, that is a different story. Bamboo harvested in Japan by shakuhachi
bamboo harvesters know these requirements well and harvest accordingly.
Those of us who have been there know that you can easily look all day
and not find a suitable piece. That's why we pay around $100 for a
single, basic piece of shakuhachi bamboo (much more if the piece was
aged and fits the bill well). If this is what we are talking about
here. I would say that the best Japanese Madake bamboo is the highest
quality you can get. There is only one family in China harvesting
Madake under these stringent requirements, that's my harvester.

In the end, a good playing flute is what I'm after. The most beautiful
piece of Japanese bamboo will not guarantee a fine playing flute without a lot of work. And
the ugliest Chinese bamboo may produce a swan with a golden voice with minimal work. The
question is, "Which would you rather have....at any price?"



Enjoy your time, moment to moment.

Namaste, 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)

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#35 2009-02-11 12:11:07

blowbamboo
Member
From: Taiwan
Registered: 2009-01-04
Posts: 9
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Zakarius wrote:

Tairaku wrote:

And Kiku has informed me there is a Japanese word for "semi-jinashi" which is "ji mori" and wishes we would start using it around here! smile

I noticed, too, but didn't wanna say anything wink

kikuday wrote:

The Japanese kanji for madake is: 真竹
Whether they would use the same characters for it in Chinese, I don't know.

Thanks! I guess madake is 'REAL BAMBOO' (literal translation of the Chinese). I guess the moso I've recently come across must be the fake, spam-like variety big_smile

Zakarius

There is no 真竹 in Taiwan. The similar one is call 桂竹.

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#36 2009-02-11 20:18:24

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

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

I've been harvesting madake for 20 years in central Kyushu, along with my sensei Tsurugi Kodo and his father, Tsurugi Kyomudo.  Though we occasionally look at bamboo in groves unknown to us, we tend to go back again and again to the same groves simply because we  know what each grove produces best.  It's definitely an intimate relationship between the grove and the harvester.  For example, one grove we use sits in a ravine on the north face of a volcano.  The soil is  poor in terms of plant nourishment and relatively compact with a good inclusion of clay.  This grove typically produces 1.8 up to 3.0.  If we are searching for chokan, we will go there.  Another grove we use sits on the south face of the same mountain with relatively similar soil conditions.  This grove supplies good 1.8 and smaller. The shoots need to 'reach' less to get good sun exposure.   Wall thickness is similar in both, though we can find bigger bore pieces in the prior.
Just a vignette looking into this practice.


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

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#37 2009-02-11 23:15:10

Benjamin
Member
From: Indianapolis, IN
Registered: 2008-04-19
Posts: 45
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

When it comes to the Jiari/Jinashi debate, I have always wondered...Why is a modern Jiari flute recommended for study purposes with a teacher?  I understand the relevance to have a flute in perfect pitch, tuned to western standards so that it can accompany other musicians, but why when you are studying honkyoku with a teacher is it recommended?  It seems that from what I hear the Jinashi sound is "best"  or has the identifiable aesthetic associated with the original pieces.  Is it a means for the student and the teacher to eliminate some of the subtle nuances that are imbued in every flute by studying with a flute in perfect pitch?

Ben


Coming, all is clear, no doubt about it.  Going, all is clear, without a doubt.
What then is all? -Hosshin

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#38 2009-02-11 23:44:29

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3204
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Benjamin wrote:

When it comes to the Jiari/Jinashi debate, I have always wondered...Why is a modern Jiari flute recommended for study purposes with a teacher?

Benjamin, it's probably good to study with a flute that is similar to and in tune with your teacher's flute regardless of whether it's jinashi or jiari or 1.8 or a different length. The important thing is that it's in tune with itself and with the teacher's flute.

We use 1.8 because that's the standard length traditionally but it's not unusual to teach or take lessons on other length flutes. I'll teach honkyoku on any length the student has.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#39 2009-02-12 07:28:18

Justin
Shihan/Maker
From: Japan
Registered: 2006-08-12
Posts: 540
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Tairaku wrote:

Benjamin wrote:

When it comes to the Jiari/Jinashi debate, I have always wondered...Why is a modern Jiari flute recommended for study purposes with a teacher?

Benjamin, it's probably good to study with a flute that is similar to and in tune with your teacher's flute regardless of whether it's jinashi or jiari or 1.8 or a different length. The important thing is that it's in tune with itself and with the teacher's flute.

We use 1.8 because that's the standard length traditionally but it's not unusual to teach or take lessons on other length flutes. I'll teach honkyoku on any length the student has.

Quite. In Tani-ha, students all generally use 2.6 jinashi.
To answer why it is that generally people study on modern jiari, I would say:
1) The instrument should be in tune (as Brian said)
2) The instrument should be able to play the techniques the teacher is teaching
3) The instrument should be relatively easy to control

Usually, the instruments most likely to accomplish all these are modern jiari. Jinashi are very often hard to control (stability issues) and very often out of tune, requiring great skill for the player to try to play them in tune, sometimes possible, sometimes not, and a nightmare for beginners. If a beginner has to make subtle adjustments for every note just to make them in tune, they would be overwhelmed since it is enough just to worry about how to make a sound, how to finger the notes, how to ornament and so on. Just getting regular notes such as the meri notes in tune is hard enough and can take a long time to master, so having an  instrument which is out of tune is just far too much hassle than it's worth. So, that rules out most jinashi. There are some rare jinashi which are in tune however, so they would be fine in that respect. Also, most older jiari are out of tune. Firstly, they were mostly made to a different tuning than the one we use now, most notably with "chi" much sharper, and often tru flatter, although that is less of a problem actually and can sound still OK in Japanese music. However playing sharp chi is unacceptable to most schools. Then, on top of that difference in tuning, the older jiari are just less precisely tuned. Sometimes tsu may be sharp, or re sharp, or flat, or anything. Often sharp in one octave but flat in another. It's the same problem as jinashi, except usually just not as extreme. Still, many people cannot accept it. So, modern jiari have that advantage in that they are usually (not always though) acceptably in tune.

So that's number 1). Now number 2) technique:
Jinashi often have stability problems and can be difficult to control for various techniques. This depends on the ability of the shakuhachi maker and his ability to create shakuhachi able to play specific techniques, which in turn depends on the playing ability of the maker. The same is true for jiari, but because the way of making jiari is more uniform from one shakuhachi to another, the maker can more easily have repeatable results. They are somewhat more predictable. So, once the maker has learned to make good jiari, in a way they are more easy to make able to play various techniques. It's not that jiari are easier to make, but that, to bring them to a certain level can be easier. Anyway, this is part of the reason, in my opinion.

3) Ease of playing. This is connected to 2), and even 1) also, as if 1) and 2) are lacking, it is not easy to play properly. But here I specifically mean, easy to produce sounds, easy to make stable sounds, increase and decrease the volume, go from kari to meri to kari, and so on. Jinashi are often easier for playing meri notes, but they are generally more unstable and less able to handle a wide range of volume.

So since the teachers want their students to play on reliable in-tune high quality shakuhachi, they generally end up with modern jiari. Not only that, but most professional performers also play on modern jiari, even honkyoku specialists, such as Mitsuhashi Kifu, Yokoyama Katsuya, and Zenyoji Keisuke - the 3 most famous honkyoku players. They all play modern jiari. I have spoken with several of the top performers about this, and though some of them do prefer a good jinashi tone these issues such as tuning stability prevent them.

That's not to say it is impossible. It's just to say that great jinashi (for their purposes) are very rare.

Also many people really love the tone of jiari shakuhachi. So the jinashi sound is not everyone's first choice, even if it were stable and in tune. Jin Nyodo for example, played jiari. I don't think anyone says his instruments did not suit honkyoku. So jiari is not a compromise. And among jiari there is a great variety of tone colour too. As Riley Lee pointed out, by the way, sometimes a jiari may sound more like what we expect a jinashi to sound like, and a jinashi to sound more like what we expect a jiari to sound like. They are in fact not a world apart.Having said that though, it is true that many honkyoku players are attracted to jinashi. I have heard of people having both a jiari for sankyoku and a jinashi for honkyoku.

Returning briefly to number 1), it may be noted that some teachers do not mind if their students play out of tune. Or, we could say, they do not mind if their students play with different pitches than those they use. In that case, it may be fine to use an "out of tune" shakuhachi, and even in that case the shakuhachi may not be judged as being out of tune. I think that was largely the case in the Edo period, when they often did not mind much about tuning differences. When it became more important was when sankyoku became more popular. Playing together with shamisen and koto, it really does not fit the music to be out of tune. That is when the "chi" hole started changing, and when accurate tuning started to become more important. Araki Chikuo is the most notable maker of that era. It was he who first made the chi hole smaller. Though chi was sharper than we use today, it was flatter than shakuhachi prior to that, coming towards the pitch of the sankyoku music. For the other notes too, including octave balance, he made his instruments in tune. He also started to use ji. Many of his shakuhachi had no ji at all, and some have just a little ji, though these are generally called "jinashi" here in Japan. [It was his students, such as (his son) Araki Kodo III and Miura Kindo who used ji in more regular way to create what we now call "jiari" or "jinuri" shakuhachi.] Araki Chikuo was one of the few master makers who was able to make jinashi in tune and stable, and, with the most amazing tone colour. His shakuhachi are extremely rare.

Justin
http://senryushakuhachi.com/

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#40 2009-02-13 20:28:53

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 401
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Throw out the "almost Jinashi" and/or the jinuri and they (jinashi & jiari) ARE worlds apart, but especially if it's the intention of the player to bring out the differences. If you play a jinashi like you play a jiari, then it'll sound a bit more like a jiari and less like a jinashi. However, playing a jiari like a jinashi doesn't do the same thing. It doesn't sound like a jinashi. The best you can do in that case is play with a lot of "leaky iki" (a highly breathy quality).  An analogy would be like the beginner: it doesn't matter which hole is used to repeat Ro as they only sound the same because they are played the same way. It's not until the difference is brought to their attention that they will understand the vast differences that CAN be made using a different hole to repeat Ro.

Last edited by chikuzen (2009-02-13 20:29:49)


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#41 2009-02-13 22:19:50

Larry Tyrrell
Moderator
From: Pacific Northwest
Registered: 2005-11-09
Posts: 73
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Hey Michael,

I love that term 'leaky-iki' although it suggests to me that there is an inherent conundrum in this topic.  Although I will readily acknowledge that there are good and earnest players with a variety of differing sonic ends who will find a match with the right instrumental means be it jinashi or jiari there is that most confounding 'badly-made/badly played' factor that serves to undermine the whole discussion.  Without wanting to besmirch anyone or get too far off topic I'd like to express frustration at the implied parity of a 'Zen flute' or 'meditation flute' with a jinashi instrument.  These are also worlds
apart and lead players to ascribe a kind of rustic value to many flutes that are simply cheaply and poorly made.

Larry

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#42 2009-02-13 23:41:03

Justin
Shihan/Maker
From: Japan
Registered: 2006-08-12
Posts: 540
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Larry Tyrrell wrote:

I'd like to express frustration at the implied parity of a 'Zen flute' or 'meditation flute' with a jinashi instrument.  These are also worlds
apart and lead players to ascribe a kind of rustic value to many flutes that are simply cheaply and poorly made.

Larry

Hi Larry
It's interesting you should say that. Despite what I have said above, I myself do prefer to play honkyoku on jinashi (so long as they are good!) Recently I have been making some shakuhachi which I feel are particularly well suited to honkyoku, in the style of late Edo period Kinko-ryu shakuhachi. I was thinking, how should I explain these instruments to people? I would like to say they are particularly well suited to honkyoku. But, as you have pointed out, "Zen flute", or "meditation flute" all too often means cheap and bad. When a shakuhachi is commercially described as being "suitable for honkyoku", it often seems to be a flattering was to say that it is too out of tune/poorly made to play anything EXCEPT honkyoku!

So I sympathize with your frustration.

Justin
http://senryushakuhachi.com/

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#43 2009-02-14 00:16:29

Justin
Shihan/Maker
From: Japan
Registered: 2006-08-12
Posts: 540
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

chikuzen wrote:

Throw out the "almost Jinashi" and/or the jinuri and they (jinashi & jiari) ARE worlds apart, but especially if it's the intention of the player to bring out the differences.

Hi Michael
I would agree with you that the sound of jinashi can be very different to the sound of jiari - the two can have very different tone colours. My point was, that it is not as black and white as some people think. If you would take a shiny-sounding Tozan shakuhachi, and compare it to a fat jinashi like Watazumi may have played, the sound will be so different. Very different effect. But there is such a range of jiari and of jinashi. Such a variety of sounds from both "worlds", and I have found that these can overlap somewhat. We could say that Watazumi's fat jinashi are one extreme of the jinashi world, and Tozan-ryu thin-bore jiari can be one extreme of the jiari world. So Michael, I would agree with you that these we could say are worlds apart. But there are many types of jinashi, even when talking about only "pure" jinashi. Some have very small bores, some have very hard sounds, and so on. The same is true for jiari. So, like Riley pointed out:

Riley Lee wrote:

Flutes with ji can sound different from flutes without ji. Flutes without ji can also sound different from other flutes without ji. The addition or lack of ji may not cause the biggest variables between flutes.

My point of bringing this up is not to say that jinashi and jiari are the same, or sound the same. My point is to try to bring some of my experience here in Japan, to the forum. From the forum it sometimes sounds as if jinashi and jiari are more different from each other than how I have experienced them here in Japan. Sometimes they are even portrayed as entirely different instruments. The reality I have experienced is far less black and white, so I thought it worthwhile to share my opinions. When I first encountered jinashi, I felt a huge difference, and I actually became uninterested in jiari. But as I played more shakuhachi, I discovered certain jiari which I really loved, which had that special quality I had loved so much in jinashi. So I realised, that which I loved so much was not only to be found in jinashi. My research and study has taken me all over Japan and I have been lucky to play a great variety of both jiari and jinashi. I am in no way trying to be argumentative, but these anyway are my opinions.

Justin
http://senryushakuhachi.com/

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#44 2009-02-14 00:17:30

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3204
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Sometimes "suitable for honkyoku" means "has a beautiful tone but does not have the volume and projection for ensemble work" or "in between Western pitches".


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#45 2009-02-14 02:02:06

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 401
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Justin, thanks for your explanation. I'm sure there are many varieties of Jinashi including narrow bore ones that react somewhat similar to jiari. I was pointing to a more basic place where the essence of the two are very different, especially to the player. How it may sound to the listener is a more complicated thing. A jiari and jinashi may sound similar based on on certain factors, as mentioned, i.e., the size of the bores, even just playing the flutes in the same room standardizes the sounds of flutes that are very different. However, if one understands the essential natural differences and then thinks about where, when why & what they are playing one can bring out the differences, which is to say they can bring out the essential qualities of the flutes and show the best they have to offer. I think it's easy to standardize the sounds of flutes. Most people do it by default because they blow/play/confront/interact/saddle up with them the same way. That's why Yokoyama Katsuya (for example) sounds like himself on every flute he plays. One thing a professional must have is consistency. No matter what field. It becomes instinctive to do what it takes to bring this to one's music in spite of what the flute may bring to the table. According to my experience, and putting aside a few exceptions, 9 times out of ten, if you play a jinashi and attempt to bring out the flavor of a raw or slightly treated piece of bamboo, you'll be able to do so. And the same goes for bringing out the strengths of a jiari. I've had this discussion with people who think it's all about the bore shape and not the materials that determines the sound of the flute. It's not that simple. Most of the time, if a raw piece of bamboo feels the same as a thickly coated jiari when one's playing, then you're simply destined to be a very limited player. I'm not referring to you, Justin, but the "you" here is in general. Different flutes, different sects, different songs, different styles, why try to standardize things? I think there's a great unconscious attempt in the flow of things in the shakuhachi world that adds up to this. But fortunately, it won't happen in the long run. From a teacher's point of view, to bring up the exceptions will confuse the students. If they appear, they have to be acknowledged and dealt with. I have beginning students bringing $200 and $300. jinashi 1.8 flutes to class thinking they can study with them. It's just not a good base to start from. As a responsible teacher, I have to agree with Larry about the bad flute/bad playing thing.

Last edited by chikuzen (2009-02-14 02:03:02)


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#46 2009-02-14 05:42:54

Justin
Shihan/Maker
From: Japan
Registered: 2006-08-12
Posts: 540
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Hi Michael

chikuzen wrote:

Justin, thanks for your explanation. I'm sure there are many varieties of Jinashi including narrow bore ones that react somewhat similar to jiari. I was pointing to a more basic place where the essence of the two are very different, especially to the player. How it may sound to the listener is a more complicated thing. A jiari and jinashi may sound similar based on on certain factors, as mentioned, i.e., the size of the bores, even just playing the flutes in the same room standardizes the sounds of flutes that are very different. However, if one understands the essential natural differences and then thinks about where, when why & what they are playing one can bring out the differences, which is to say they can bring out the essential qualities of the flutes and show the best they have to offer.

This is a very interesting point. Each shakuhachi is unique, and sometimes even for really great shakuhachi, it can take time to find how to "discover" the greatness. That requires a certain openness, and willingness, on the part of the player. Many people are used to only one way of playing, which suits the shakuhachi they usually play. So if they try a shakuhachi which is different enough from their own, if they don't or can't adjust to it, the chances are that they will not get the most out of it. Their way of creating the sound (embouchure etc) has been optimized for their shakuhachi. If they play one similar enough, it should be fine. Within a school that often works as their shakuhachi are often very similar, made in a similar style or often by the same maker even.

chikuzen wrote:

Most of the time, if a raw piece of bamboo feels the same as a thickly coated jiari when one's playing, then you're simply destined to be a very limited player. I'm not referring to you, Justin

Good wink
I know what you mean though. When I started, my PVC shakuhachi sounded the same when I played it as when I played my teacher's lovely professional shakuhachi!! That was certainly due to me, not the instruments! (Equally bad on each!)

chikuzen wrote:

Different flutes, different sects, different songs, different styles, why try to standardize things? I think there's a great unconscious attempt in the flow of things in the shakuhachi world that adds up to this.

I hope you didn't misunderstand me. I absolutely love diversity, and even in my own making, I make very different styles of shakuhachi, which is actually unusual for a maker. But I like to play different sounds, and different styles of music, different repertoires. So, I am not at all in favour of homogenization. However, the opposite direction also is unappealing to me, the direction of creating a kind of barrier between jiari and jinashi shakuhachi, which I feel can be unhealthy. At worst, it can manifest as people being "anti" the other group. I have encountered that, and the sad thing was, the division was based on ignorance. I believe it furthers good relations and understanding, to see where things can meet, or do meet, and the relations between things. There are both relations and differences. I really love the differences, but since I rarely read here on the forum about the relation between them (Riley Lee's discussion on the subject being the only one to come to mind), I thought to share about that.

chikuzen wrote:

From a teacher's point of view, to bring up the exceptions will confuse the students. If they appear, they have to be acknowledged and dealt with. I have beginning students bringing $200 and $300. jinashi 1.8 flutes to class thinking they can study with them. It's just not a good base to start from. As a responsible teacher, I have to agree with Larry about the bad flute/bad playing thing.

I totally agree. I had one student come to me exactly as you have said, with a bad 1.8 jinashi. He was really struggling, even though he had studied for a while with another teacher previously. If I had been a regular teacher, I would have really encouraged him to buy a decent shakuhachi. But since I am a shakuhachi maker, I felt that I couldn't. The last thing I would want to do would be to pressure anyone. So, I just did my best to teach him on what he had. Sad to see him struggling though. Really slowed down his learning process.

Justin
http://senryushakuhachi.com/

Last edited by Justin (2009-02-14 05:45:12)

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#47 2009-02-14 16:58:20

Yungflutes
Flutemaker/Performer
From: New York City
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 1040
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Benjamin wrote:

When it comes to the Jiari/Jinashi debate, I have always wondered...Why is a modern Jiari flute recommended for study purposes with a teacher?  I understand the relevance to have a flute in perfect pitch, tuned to western standards so that it can accompany other musicians, but why when you are studying honkyoku with a teacher is it recommended?
Ben

Hi Ben,

This thread seems to be going in the direction of what is good and bad but I'll try to answer your questions clearly.

Teachers steeped in tradition need flutes to behave in predictable ways so that they can teach the music without the flute getting the way.

It seems that from what I hear the Jinashi sound is "best"  or has the identifiable aesthetic associated with the original pieces.

Perhaps "authentic" is a better word? We may not all agree on what school or sound is "best" (and perhaps need not expend too much energy on that), but we do know that the earliest flutes were Jinashi and that the Honkyoku music we now play and learn with on modern flutes were most likely written on Jinashi flutes.

Is it a means for the student and the teacher to eliminate some of the subtle nuances that are imbued in every flute by studying with a flute in perfect pitch?

Chikuzen Sensei mentions standardization. Hand made bamboo flutes are still individual things even if they are becoming more and more standardized. Teachers using modern flutes can say something like, "Your flute is a little flat on Go no Hi so you should open hole #1 or, #2 a little, depending upon which tone color is right on your flute." This is a standard remedy for a flat Go no Hi and this kind of understanding helps the teacher continue to teach and the student continue to learn the subtleties of style, even if the flutes do not match up well.  But on Jinashi, something else will probably happen when opening #1 or #2 with Go no Hi. In other words, they are a bit unpredictable and would make teaching more difficult. But, some teacher do it so it's not impossible.

To use fruit as an analogy, if modern flutes were apples one can be a Macintosh and another a Red Delicious. Some Jinashi flutes can fall into the same group, like a Granny Smith green apple. Or, they can be different fruits altogether, like a lime  (i wasn't going to say lemon) smile

Hope this helps.
Perry

Last edited by Yungflutes (2009-02-14 19:48:34)


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

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#48 2009-02-15 06:48:58

Benjamin
Member
From: Indianapolis, IN
Registered: 2008-04-19
Posts: 45
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Yungflutes wrote:

Perhaps "authentic" is a better word? We may not all agree on what school or sound is "best" (and perhaps need not expend too much energy on that), but we do know that the earliest flutes were Jinashi and that the Honkyoku music we now play and learn with on modern flutes were most likely written on Jinashi flutes.

Authentic, that was the word I was looking for Perry.  It just seemed an oddity that, as you have noted, the original pieces were most likely birthed out of the Jinashi flutes but they do not recommended for study with a teacher, and with what I am learning here it seems that my assumptions were not far off in that the responsiveness and precision of the Jiari flutes (when it comes to playing) makes it easier to transmit the information from teacher to student.

Ben


Coming, all is clear, no doubt about it.  Going, all is clear, without a doubt.
What then is all? -Hosshin

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#49 2009-02-15 15:27:13

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 401
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Perry wrote:

But on Jinashi, something else will probably happen when opening #1 or #2 with Go no Hi. In other words, they are a bit unpredictable and would make teaching more difficult. But, some teacher do it so it's not impossible.

Teaching the song becomes more difficult because the focus of the teaching changes at this point as we have to teach how to deal with with the problems the flute brings. I don't understand the part about some teachers do it and some don't? If the "problems" are too big then it's impossible to play the song without getting the flute fixed or changing flutes. There are limits  for a teacher when they are responsible for transmission. If it's a small enough problem the teacher may determine that it's ok to use that flute as is. So, teachers have to make responsible evaluations as to whether or nor the flute is "effective", i.e. one that will aid the student and one the student can depend on to build on for a while or is the flute "not effective" in allowing the student to attempt to reach their goals. Maybe these words are better than "good" and "bad" but they amount to the same thing when one explains why the are evaluated as to be useful or not.  And the teacher has to live with those decisions on a daily basis and reinforce them. This is what the student depends on and is part of the reasonable expectations when money is changing hands (from the student to the teacher). However, the teacher has to depend on maker's and seller's to be responsible for the flutes they sell.


Michael Gould/teacher


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#50 2009-02-15 15:29:17

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3204
Website

Re: To Ji or not to Ji that is the question.

Well, there are teachers who teach on jinashi, but that depends upon what they're teaching. Usually if they teach gaikyoku they're using jiari instruments, although there are exceptions.

In Western music instruments like cello and piano are dominant although a lot of the music was written for viola di gamba or harpsichord. New standards take over.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

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