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#1 2008-10-11 22:20:30

From: Japan
Registered: 2006-08-12
Posts: 540

Araki Kodo and chi kari in sankyoku

A while ago I mentioned about the note chi kari, and Jeff asked for some examples. So now I will share what I have been taught.

In Kinko-ryu sankyoku, there is often a note written as chi kari (or just chi, referring to chi kari). Nowadays, among the teachers I have met, they all play it as ri meri except for Araki Kodo. Kurahashi Yoshio explained it to me that in the old days, shakuhachi had chi tuned higher, so they had to control the pitch of chi, but the payoff was that they could easily play chi kari (a semitone above regular chi). He says with shakuhachi tuned as they are today, it is impossible to get the correct pitch of chi kari, so we use ri meri instead, but we should try to give it a kari feeling, not as if it were a real meri note.

(If you know any teachers still using chi kari, please say).

Araki Kodo uses both chi kari and ri meri, depending on the situation. Jeff you asked for a specific example of a song using chi kari. On Araki Kodo's box set of sankyoku recordings, the second track Touru is a good example.
[For info on that CD see this thread:
and this page: ]

About when to use chi kari or ri meri:
Generally with Yamada-ryu use ri meri.
Generally with Ikuta-ryu koto use ri meri.

With Ikuta-ryu shamisen:
With hon-choshi tuning (ro re ro) and san sagari tuning (ro re ri) use chi kari (but not always).

How to know when to play which:
It always depends on the shamisen player's hand positions. The pitch of chi kari will always be a bit flat. That does not fit with the koto's tuning. That's why we don't play chi kari when we accompany koto. Shamisen players vary. So you have to know what the particular player is playing - what pitch is being used. If the pitch is flatter, use chi kari. If it is sharper, chi kari will sound wrong, so use ri meri. This is noticeable on longer notes. So on shorter notes where the music is fast, use chi kari as much as possible. When the note is slower and the pitch is too sharp for chi kari, then use ri meri. Ri meri is also much easier to sustain that chi kari and so gives a better sound in such longer notes.

What this emphasizes to me, is the importance of having a close relationship to and awareness and understanding of the shamisen and koto players, in order to take sankyoku to a higher level. I think many of us may not have such opportunities to build such close relationships. In London we used to meet every week to play in ensemble as a sankyoku society. That is an excellant way to practice. Do you have such opportunities in the US and elsewhere? Are there many koto and shamisen players? Is there much ensemble playing also around Europe? It would be interesting to hear about what is going on around the world.

Best wishes




#2 2008-10-12 08:50:33

Kyu Dan Dai Shihan
From: NYC
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 259

Re: Araki Kodo and chi kari in sankyoku

If, like me, your favorite 1.8 Shakuhachi is an old one and tuned so that the CHI is a bit Sharp - you can play the CHI KARI both ways !
Actually, one of the strongest reasons that I ore often use the RI-Meri, is that if I am sitting opposite a student, it becomes too confusing for them if they DON'T see me using a RI-meri. (Of course this is the the same for a HI-meri in the high-register.)

Of course, for a Regular CHI, I must always lower my head to get it pitched to "A".

The magic's in the music and the music's in me...
"Do you believe in Magic"- The Lovin' Spoonful



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