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#51 2007-11-30 07:41:11

From: Barcelona - Spain
Registered: 2005-10-17
Posts: 138

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

David Sawyer wrote:

The ongoing discussion about jinashi and, let’s say, ‘other’ shakuhachi, reflects a ‘flute-centricity’ that emphasizes the importance of type of flute over other much more relevant issues.

I couldn't agree more with this statement (for what is worth...), and the following reflection. I think sometimes we may be too obsessed with the flute and forget that we mainly have to work on improving ourselves. I, for example, have a wonderful Shakuhachi (I think jiari), but I've found myself on many ocassions thinking "maybe I should get a different/longer/rawer/older one".

But then I remember, that what mainly attracts me to Shakuhachi in the first place, the Zen aspect of it, is not about materials, bore ratios, or lengths; nor about expensive, inexpensive, beautiful or ugly; as far as I know, it's about mindfullness and concentration, about trascending the net of thoughts that prevents us from getting more of our inner-self forward.

In that sense ANY Shakuhachi has the potential to be used as a tool for that purpose, but also, a caligrapgy brush, a bow and arrow, or a tea pot, and maybe even a guitar, or a bunch of stones for that matter (I don't think anybody has the undeniable authority to say that some tools are more suitable than others as it's a highly subjective perception; well, afterall, which perception is not subjective!).

If Zen it's what it's important, as I see it, it's important to get a tool that you feel comfortable with, a tool that it's not going to plague your mind with irrelevant thoughts  like "this is not working for me", "I should have gone for the expensive one", "I want a more natural sound" (we have enough thoughts to get rid off already!), so in that sense choosing a flute you are satisfied with is crucial.

Now, satisfaction lies inside; some people can search all their lives for that perfect flute and never find it, and some people may just forget about that and engage, with whatever tool they have available, in the search for that mindfullness and concentration that some of us so much crave for. 

Well, this is not to say that it's not great to have different flutes, different sounds, different voices (if you ask me I would compare jinashi Shakuhachi with having a natural Billie Holiday voice simulator- maybe if it's a long one a Nina Simone's- and jiari with having a Montserrat Caballes'), we all love nice music, beautiful waves of sound around the room, but if Zen is what you are looking for, as someone else has said before, it's not about the material aspects of the tool, it's about the inmaterial aspects of the practice.

Well, I just wanted to share some thoughts. Maybe I should have written this in the "Zen" section, but I've been following this thread with great interest and i thought it belonged here.

Hey, thanks for reading through!


"An artist has got to be careful never really to arrive at a place where he thinks he's "at" somewhere. You always have to realise that you are constantly in the state of becoming. And as long as you can stay in that realm, you'll sort of be all right"
Bob Dylan



#52 2007-11-30 07:49:00

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

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.


Wherever you write this, it's a beautiful thing.


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



#53 2007-11-30 14:42:48

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

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Hi Alex,

Thank you very much for your gentle and thoughtful eloquence.
The best shakuhachi ultimately lies in our engaged attention to the
fact that it is ourselves that we are sounding in the time we spend
with our instruments.  You have an evolved understanding of this.

Thanks again for putting it so well.




#54 2007-12-01 12:35:29

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 922

Re: The best shakuhachi, ji-nashi or otherwise.

Alex wrote:

Well, I just wanted to share some thoughts. Maybe I should have written this in the "Zen" section, but I've been following this thread with great interest and i thought it belonged here.Alex

Hi Alex.
The subjects overlap anyway at times. So this is a fine place for your post - it was relevant to the on-going discussion here. Thank you for your contribution!

Seth wrote:

I have been enjoying this thread tremendously.    Thank you! 
I think this difference in approach is leading readers to see a disagreement in places where there is actually agreement.

As Seth says so beautifully, in the quote above, I think more disagreement is being read into the posts. I actually think we speak about the sound.

David Sawyer wrote:

The ongoing discussion about jinashi and, let’s say, ‘other’ shakuhachi, reflects a ‘flute-centricity’ that emphasizes the importance of type of flute over other much more relevant issues.

Somehow I have the feeling Riley Lee is, just as I am, a sound-centric (Sorry, Riley if I am wrong - I am guessing here). Well, I am - for sure...  smile And so far the sound that has really attracted me has been the sound of ji-nashi, although I can appreciate any other sounds.
I have never, looked at my own ji-nashi shakuhachi playing as religious or philosophical. Nor have I ever been in particularly interested in Zen Buddhism. So, I always appreciate when people share the spiritual/Zen approach. I always learn from other approaches. Thank you again, Alex.
I have never even thought about whether a ji-nashi was more 'natural' than anything else. Honestly, I never cared. I just love its sound. I play the piano and the Western flute - and love that too, as much as I love adding amplification to my ji-nashi.
But most of all, I love the process of adapting my breathing and playing techniques to impossible flutes and making them sound - flutes that many would thrown out on Guy Fawkes Day!

Yes, and the playing style is very important. Somehow what I see it that a person aims for a particular sound, and that influences the playing style. And we have different aesthetics regarding what sound is best. Just compare the sound of Riley Lee and Tairaku. They are very different sounding, but I have great respect for both players. They aim at different goals, and have achieved it through hard work.

Another thread that came out of this discussion is the new role of ji-mori shakuhachi - a role we might disagree on now, but we will have to wait and see how big it grows. When I began playing ji-nashi shakuhachi, almost no-one played ji-nashi, so the market has changed a great deal since - and probably will even more. And no-one knows how it will change. I am very excited about the future. The new makers are becoming really good ji-mori and ji-nashi shakuhachi makers. I just communicated with a ji-nashi maker in UK a few days ago for the first time... and there is a forthcoming academic article on ji-nashi shakuhachi in education....


I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music


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