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#1 2009-02-17 16:12:20

Moran from Planet X
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Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

Pictures of tsugaru shamisen master Takahashi Chikusan playing shakuhachi with Tsugaru min'yo singer. (If you know of any recordings of Takahashi playing shakuhachi, please post where and how we can find copies).

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3467/3288805516_d3b4c999be_o.jpg

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3197/3287989011_29894208ea_o.jpg

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3507/3287989081_642ba5306f_o.jpg

Last edited by Chris Moran (2009-02-18 00:52:10)


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." —Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#2 2009-03-20 13:18:09

Gerry
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From: Toronto
Registered: 2007-04-08
Posts: 13

Re: Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

I was recently wondering myself what people here think of Chikuzan's playing.
Your photos picture him with Narita Unchiku, the "father of Aomori Min'you."
Unchiku took Chikuzan under his wing after WWII, gave him his stage name (his birth name is Takahashi Sadao), and started his "legitimate" career. Chikuzan, who was blinded by measles as a child, studied Tsugaru-jamisen under a master and lived for many years as an itinerant begging player. From what I understand, he took up the shakuhachi as something to make money with when it was too wet to play shamisen. I'm guessing he didn't have any formal training, but I'm not positive.
I've posted a clip on YouTube in response to your post. It was recorded in 1974, and is available on a CBS/SONY double-CD release from 1989 - "Sono Furusato" (48DG5049-50).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdeJD6Ar … annel_page

I wouldn't recommend this cd set to non-Japanese shakuhachi fans - it has just one shakuhachi track, some flute, and a lot of talking. Chikuzan's concerts tended to be half talking and half playing - I saw him twice in the mid-90s, and though I didn't catch much of what he said, the audience members who could understand his thick Tsugaru accent seemed to think he was pretty funny.
I have a copy of Narita Unchiku's "Hohai bushi" with Chikuzan on shakuhachi somewhere. I also have a long clip of him playing solo shakuhachi (Tsugaru yamauta, I think) from a TV show in the 70s, but have no idea how to get a clip from DVD on to YouTube.
There is also an old recording of Chikuzan playing Tsugaru Yamauta on this page, third from the bottom:
http://shakuhachi.komusou.jp/others.html
The recording just above his is by Shirakawa Gumpachiro, the other great early master of the Tsugaru-jamisen. They are playing the same piece (yamauta/Tsugaru yamauta), and are both primarily shamisen players, so these might be interesting to compare.

I'm a shamisen player, not really a shakuhachi player, so I'd be interested to hear what people think of his style, technique, how he compares to other min'you players, etc.

Last edited by Gerry (2009-03-20 15:15:03)

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#3 2009-06-23 03:43:02

Moran from Planet X
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Re: Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

Gerry wrote:

I was recently wondering myself what people here think of Chikuzan's playing.
Your photos picture him with Narita Unchiku, the "father of Aomori Min'you."
Unchiku took Chikuzan under his wing after WWII, gave him his stage name (his birth name is Takahashi Sadao), and started his "legitimate" career. Chikuzan, who was blinded by measles as a child, studied Tsugaru-jamisen under a master and lived for many years as an itinerant begging player. From what I understand, he took up the shakuhachi as something to make money with when it was too wet to play shamisen. I'm guessing he didn't have any formal training, but I'm not positive.
I've posted a clip on YouTube in response to your post. It was recorded in 1974, and is available on a CBS/SONY double-CD release from 1989 - "Sono Furusato" (48DG5049-50).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdeJD6Ar … annel_page

I wouldn't recommend this cd set to non-Japanese shakuhachi fans - it has just one shakuhachi track, some flute, and a lot of talking. Chikuzan's concerts tended to be half talking and half playing - I saw him twice in the mid-90s, and though I didn't catch much of what he said, the audience members who could understand his thick Tsugaru accent seemed to think he was pretty funny.
I have a copy of Narita Unchiku's "Hohai bushi" with Chikuzan on shakuhachi somewhere. I also have a long clip of him playing solo shakuhachi (Tsugaru yamauta, I think) from a TV show in the 70s, but have no idea how to get a clip from DVD on to YouTube.
There is also an old recording of Chikuzan playing Tsugaru Yamauta on this page, third from the bottom:
http://shakuhachi.komusou.jp/others.html
The recording just above his is by Shirakawa Gumpachiro, the other great early master of the Tsugaru-jamisen. They are playing the same piece (yamauta/Tsugaru yamauta), and are both primarily shamisen players, so these might be interesting to compare.

I'm a shamisen player, not really a shakuhachi player, so I'd be interested to hear what people think of his style, technique, how he compares to other min'you players, etc.

Thank you, Gerry for posting the video on YouTube and the mp3 links. I replied a couple of months ago to your YouTube entry.

I don't know enough about shakuhachi to be able to say whether Chikuzan is a really good min'yo player, but I certainly like what I've heard from your sources. Thanks again.


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." —Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#4 2009-06-30 15:46:27

Gerry
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From: Toronto
Registered: 2007-04-08
Posts: 13

Re: Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

Thanks for your reply to this, Chris - I always enjoy your posts on the forum.
It surprised me that no one else has said anything about this - it seems to me the sort of thing that people on the site might be interested in.
I know that min'you shakuhachi is not all that popular among western players, so that might be one reason.
When I lived in Japan I often played shamisen with a German shakuhachi player who lived in the countryside near Kyoto. He had studied shakuhachi for over a decade, and found min'you shakuhachi in general to be too simple. At the time I was concentrating on my own study of the shamisen, and didn't know enough about the shakuhachi to ask reasonable questions about it.

I also previously asked about the “Nezasa-ha Kinpuu-ryuu" of honkyoku from Aomori (northeast Japan) and have yet to get a reply to that post. I take it that the Nezasa-ha is a relatively unfamiliar school of honkyoku, but I wonder if anyone on the form has heard recordings of this style. The one description of the music I've read suggests that it might have stylistic links to Tsugaru shamisen, which is also from Aomori.
If anyone out there has an opinion about this, I'd be really interested to hear it.

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#5 2009-06-30 17:12:33

rpowers
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From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 285

Re: Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

Gerry wrote:

I also previously asked about the “Nezasa-ha Kinpuu-ryuu" of honkyoku from Aomori (northeast Japan) and have yet to get a reply to that post. I take it that the Nezasa-ha is a relatively unfamiliar school of honkyoku, but I wonder if anyone on the form has heard recordings of this style.

Riley Lee received the Nezasaha pieces from Chikuho II; Jin Nyodo also collected some of the Nezasa pieces.

Riley has recorded most of them on the CD titled Bamboo Grass. Kokű (Nezasa Ha) is on Empty Sky.


"Shut up 'n' play . . . " -- Frank Zappa
"Gonna blow some . . ." -- Junior Walker
"It's not the flute." -- Riley Lee

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#6 2009-06-30 17:41:39

Moran from Planet X
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From: Here to There
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Re: Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

Gerry wrote:

I also previously asked about the “Nezasa-ha Kinpuu-ryuu" of honkyoku from Aomori (northeast Japan) and have yet to get a reply to that post. I take it that the Nezasa-ha is a relatively unfamiliar school of honkyoku, but I wonder if anyone on the form has heard recordings of this style.

I can't find an old post where someone gave me the name of a woman who is the current head of Nezasa Ha. Apparently she has recorded but I have yet to find it.

I was in West L.A. recently with Kakizakai Kaoru (Yokoyama's school) and Bill Shozan Schultz (Tozan and Meian) and we were talking about the komi-buki breathing style. The pulsing really comes from the gut and not the throat.  (Throat pulsing is not easy, but it is much easier than using just the gut pulsing). According to Bill the diaphragm is used to push the breath out one pulse at a time, but the breath doesn't "rebound". The diaphragm pulse leaves the lungs just that much emptier of air and the pulsing continues until there is no air left in the lungs at all.

Kakizakai was playing Daha which uses komi-buki. Bill asked him what rhythm was used to pulse and Kakazakai sensei responded "evenly" no trailing off as in the familiar "bouncing ball" rhythm.

That was interesting to me. Two assumptions I had about komi-buki, one of the signatures of Nezasa Ha, were challenged, the use or non-use of the throat and the rhythm of the pulse.

Always something new to chew on.


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." —Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#7 2009-06-30 18:22:30

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nřrre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 917
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Re: Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

Gerry, I wanted to answer your post earlier, but couldn't remember the name of the woman who is head of Nezasa-ha presently either, so I gave up. Sorry about this.

Komibuki is interesting because I have observed that not a single person do it the same way.
I learned from Okuda several types of even komibuki with the tempi of the pulsation being fast-middle-slow. I heard the fast is not used as some other technique is easier. And then there is uneven komubuki too.

I think Iwamoto Yoshikazu describes that in this article as far as I remember:
Iwamoto, Yoshikazu (1994) The Potential of the Shakuhachi in Contemporary Music. Contemporary Music Review 8.2:5-44.

I learned from Okuda that komibuki was always produced by pushing the breath with the diaphragm whether it be the fast pulsation - but that is what makes that technique so hard. But then I took lessons with Ishibashi Gudo, who had lessons with Jin Nyodo (originally Nezasa-ha) and more so from a student of him (I forgot the name of this Jin Nyodo student - so forgetful!). And Ishibashi taught me to use the throat technique for komubiki, and so did Gyokusui, who as a young boy took lessons together with his father from jin Nyodo.... so I got a bit confused.

Also, if you read Tukitani Tuneko's article, The Shakuhachi and its Music. In The Ashgate Companion to Japanese Music, edited by Alison M. Tokita and David W. Hughes. London: Ashgate 145-168 from 2008, then she write that especially the Nezasa-ha and other groups of shakuhachi players from the northern part of Japan were influenced and ornamented the honkyoku with elements from min'yo.
I have learned 6-7 Nezasa-ha pieces. They are excellent!


Sorry, this post is a bit vague and useless. Good night! smile

Last edited by Kiku Day (2009-06-30 18:29:15)


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

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#8 2009-06-30 20:43:00

Moran from Planet X
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From: Here to There
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Re: Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

Kiku Day wrote:

Gerry, I wanted to answer your post earlier, but couldn't remember the name of the woman who is head of Nezasa-ha presently either, so I gave up. Sorry about this.

Sudo Shuho-sensei. I still haven't heard her recordings. Anyone?

Kiku Day wrote:

I learned from Okuda that komibuki was always produced by pushing the breath with the diaphragm whether it be the fast pulsation - but that is what makes that technique so hard. But then I took lessons with Ishibashi Gudo, who had lessons with Jin Nyodo (originally Nezasa-ha) and more so from a student of him (I forgot the name of this Jin Nyodo student - so forgetful!). And Ishibashi taught me to use the throat technique for komubiki, and so did Gyokusui, who as a young boy took lessons together with his father from Jin Nyodo.... so I got a bit confused.

It may be considered "more efficient" (or easier) for some teachers or players to use the throat method. I was watching tapes of Yokoyama and it looked like he added a little side-to-side yuri-like head shakes to give the throat-method komibuki a bit more depth and mystery. But then trying to dissect Yokoyama's technique is kind of like trying to make lace while wearing boxing gloves.

It also wouldn't surprise me that as a player gets older he or she may substitute a more rigorous method for a more efficient method. It also wouldn't surprise me that a teacher just may chose to teach an easier method to a particular student just to move them along. Not all of us are destined to play like a Grand Banana Shakuhachi Legend.

Bill Schultz remarked to me that the diaphragm-style komibuki technique was quite difficult to learn and required that you practice it regularly or you could lose the ability rather dramatically. So if a player is not playing Nezasa Ha music regularly, it may just be easier in general to use the throat technique when required.

Last edited by Chris Moran (2009-06-30 21:05:00)


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." —Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#9 2009-07-01 02:28:56

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nřrre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 917
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Re: Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

Chris Moran wrote:

Sudo Shuho-sensei. I still haven't heard her recordings. Anyone?

I have. But it is a long time ago and the copy I have is in a box somewhere.  I am sure someone else can describe much better than I the content of the CD and review its quality. I remember it was very interesting... but the recording quality bothered me.... The pieces were great though.

Chris Moran wrote:

It may be considered "more efficient" (or easier) for some teachers or players to use the throat method. I was watching tapes of Yokoyama and it looked like he added a little side-to-side yuri-like head shakes to give the throat-method komibuki a bit more depth and mystery. But then trying to dissect Yokoyama's technique is kind of like trying to make lace while wearing boxing gloves.

Yes, indeed. Ishibashi used the yokoyuri (or perhaps a little diagonal yuri) as well when he did it. Ishibashi also learned from Watazumi.... so...perhaps there is a link there although sharing teacher doesn't guarantee they learned the same things. Nezasa-ha honkyoku spread to be included in quite a few repertoires in other places in Japan. During that transmission the komibuki technique may also have changed slightly. I am only speculating here. Watazumi's Kyushu style and Nezasa-ha can be quite different experience anyhow.

Chris Moran wrote:

Bill Schultz remarked to me that the diaphragm-style komibuki technique was quite difficult to learn and required that you practice it regularly or you could lose the ability rather dramatically. So if a player is not playing Nezasa Ha music regularly, it may just be easier in general to use the throat technique when required.

I agree. If I don't do it for a while I loose it and have had that experience myself. Without regular practice I find moving the diaphragm in a regular pulse for a longer span of time becomes hard. I do play Nezasa-ha pieces regularly as I do like them, so usually I am ok (but not now when writing is so much in focus). I have noticed it with my students too. Some learn to do the diaphragm komibuki well. After a year or so, if we go back to the piece and they haven't played it for a while - it can be heard on the quality of komibuki immediately that they are out of practice. A very revealing technique.... wink


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

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#10 2009-07-01 07:35:17

Justin
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From: Japan
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Re: Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

Gerry wrote:

Thanks for your reply to this, Chris - I always enjoy your posts on the forum.
It surprised me that no one else has said anything about this - it seems to me the sort of thing that people on the site might be interested in.

Hi Gerry
I read your post and enjoyed it, the pictures, and the sound links. Thank you. Sorry I didn't reply. I liked his playing and his technique sounded good, though I have not studied minyou so I can't say much. You mentioned Shirakawa Gumpachiro's recording too. Personally I liked more Chikusan's playing, and also the singing more on Chikusan's recording, which I thought was wonderful. I think the lack of response may be, as you have pointed out, the lack of minyou study by westerners. In the shakuhachi world, sankyoku (with koto and shamisen) and honkyoku have both been played for hundreds of years, and taught within the same schools. So a lot of people study both sankyoku and honkyoku and those two worlds are quite well connected (though some choose to play only one or the other). From them a new school was born at the beginning of the 20th century, Tozan-ryu, which quit honkyoku but played sankyoku and modern compositions (some confusingly also referred to as honkyoku, but a different genre). That school is the largest in Japan. But minyou, which I believe is a post-Edo period tradition for shakuhachi, seems to be quite separate from these schools. I think usually the two worlds don't mix, i.e. either a player is a minyou player or a player of sankyoku/honkyoku (or modern music, which might be more open). There are exceptions of course.


Gerry wrote:

I also previously asked about the “Nezasa-ha Kinpuu-ryuu" of honkyoku from Aomori (northeast Japan) and have yet to get a reply to that post. I take it that the Nezasa-ha is a relatively unfamiliar school of honkyoku, but I wonder if anyone on the form has heard recordings of this style. The one description of the music I've read suggests that it might have stylistic links to Tsugaru shamisen, which is also from Aomori.
If anyone out there has an opinion about this, I'd be really interested to hear it.

I didn't see your post so not sure what you asked. There is some info here, where you can also follow links to hear some short audio samples:
http://www.komuso.com/schools/Nezasa_Ha.html

As people have already implied, there are many ways to do komibuki (even among the original Aomori Nezasa-ha players) - perhaps as many ways as players! Some people faster, some slower, some harder, some softer, apparently some had used no komibuki at all. And some people combined their komibuki with yuri (altering the pitch slightly on the pulsing breath). Many reliable teachers from Aomori passed on their teachings to people who have spread it throughout Japan, and the pieces have become incorporated into the repertoires of various schools. Some schools teach a few of the pieces, some schools all of them.

One of the best modern players of Nezasa-ha I think is Zenyoji Keisuke. Here's a sample of him playing one of their most popular pieces, Sagariha:
http://www.komuso2.com/audio/155%20---%20Track%201.mp3

Last edited by Justin (2009-07-01 07:48:39)

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#11 2009-07-01 15:59:49

Yooper
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From: Michigan, on the WI border
Registered: 2007-11-26
Posts: 57

Re: Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

Isn't John Singer's "Shakuhachi Zen" Nesaza-ha?


"Simple and artless."

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#12 2009-07-02 02:24:42

Justin
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From: Japan
Registered: 2006-08-12
Posts: 540
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Re: Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

The main teacher of Nezasa-ha back in the day was Nyui Getsue. He had 3 top students, who became the main Nezasa-ha players of their generation, Orita Nyogetsu, Tsushima Kosho and Nagano Kyokuei. I'm not sure whether there is total agreement, but many people regard Nagano Kyokuei to have become the next head. I'm not sure how formal it was in those days. Anyway, all 3 of these men were top Nezasa-ha players and important lineage holders.

Nagano came to Tokyo. He taught Inoue Shigeshi, and I think also Aoki Reibo I. The next head of Nagano's school was Narita, with whom Inoue also studied, and then Inoue became the next head, thus considered by some to be the head (iemoto) of Kimpu-ryu. John Singer studied the Nezasa-ha from Inoue. Inoue's komi-buki was much softer than some other Nezasa-ha players (as I said, there were many ways, very different from for example Zenyoji's powerful komi-buki). I have studied Nezasa-ha from Tsushima Kosho's lineage which also had a very soft komi-buki, sounding very similar. So perhaps that may explain John's komi. Certainly his Kinko playing is excellant - one of the best players. Although I have not heard Inoue playing Nezasa-ha, I think of John's Nezasa-ha as also very authentic Nezasa-ha style.

Jin Nyodo also studied with Nagano, and with Orito Nyogetsu. Notable students of Tsushima Kosho are Takia Koro and Takahashi Kuzan.

Last edited by Justin (2009-07-02 02:32:55)

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#13 2009-07-03 20:52:38

Tairaku 太楽
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Re: Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

It was painful to relinquish that 2.1 but at least it's being put to good use by Herr Meister Singer.

Here's his version of "Sagariha" also from Kinpu Ryu.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uz8chWqZ5hs


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

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#14 2009-07-13 16:44:18

Gerry
Member
From: Toronto
Registered: 2007-04-08
Posts: 13

Re: Tsugaru shakuhachi min'yo

I'm a little late with this, but many thanks to everyone for the information, including John Singer's Nezasa-ha history in another thread (http://shakuhachiforum.com/viewtopic.php?id=3791).

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