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#1 2009-12-27 09:55:18

From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030

Ten Original Compositions for Two Shakuhachi by James Nyoraku Schlefer

I just got this relatively new book about a week ago. I'm really enjoying this book. The compositions, all of them duets, not only vary enough in skill level to insure a challenge for most players (I can do kind of OK sight reading up to #5) and are interesting and effective compositions musically, but they also have an etude-like quality where each one presents it's own unique technical challenge pervasive throughout the piece. So, you can hone specific skills while you have fun playing along with the CD that includes seperate tracks for each composition and each shakuhachi part. You can play along with with both parts together to help get an idea of how it should sound and then progress to playing along with either the 1st or 2nd individually just in case you don't have another shakuhachi player next to you at the moment.

Another big plus, for me at least, is that it's written in both Western and Shakuhachi (I think Kinko) notation, both nicely printed and easy to read. And the book is put together quite cleverly too, with the Western writing and notion starting as you'd read a Western music book from left to right. Flip the book over and you can read the Japanese version right to left, so it's essentially two books put together back to back with the end in the middle.

Jame Schlefer writes that he composed these pieces as a teaching tool, but hopes that shakuhachi players will get together and enjoy them. He's being extremely humble. These pieces, despite being etude-like, are extremely interesting as musical compositions. All of them sound very Japanese yet with some modern Western influences. I hesitate to say the Western influences are almost Philip Glass-like, because it is a unique enough of a compositional style that I think it deserves to be labeled as Schlefer's own style.

I got mine on Ebay from the seller "najor creations". I'm not sure if this seller gives away this next freebie I'm going to mention with each of these books he sells because it wasn't in the Ebay description, but the purchase included a free lesson from Chikuzen. I've got mine scheduled for tomorrow. Needless to say, I'm very happy with this purchase.

"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580


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