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#1 2010-12-05 14:59:53

Jivanmukta
Member
From: Oslo, Norway
Registered: 2010-06-13
Posts: 31

Wooden Shakuhachi, made by Colyn Petersen, www.woodlandvoices.com

I have only been playing shakuhachi for appr. 6 months, so this review is clearly limited by my lack of shakuhachi experience and skills. However i have been so fortunate to receive a new one piece 1.8 maple shakuhachi from Colyn Peterson.

I had recently been buying a Peter Ross wooden flute, as I wanted a organic flute to play outdoors under various atmospheric conditions. Colyn asked to borrow it as he had been learning from Peter Ross and had no samples to study.

I felt honoured to send the flute back to the US after it had been with me for hust a few weeks, knowing that it would be in the hands of someone passionate to study and learn. A few weeks went by and I was very excited to receive my Peter Ross back, and included in the package was a brand new shakuhachi, 1.8 D one piece maple with the brand new hanko.

The sound of the flute seems to be good for me, however as I lack the skills needed to review flutes, I am sure Colyn will be happy to let someone else deepen the understanding.
My prefered flute is a bamboo that was chosen for me by Michael Chikuzen Gould, and that is my favourite flute, but also the most fragile and expensive. So I tend to bring the wooden flute around more, and also play it outside. After one week I cannot say there is a big difference in "playability" between my Peter Ross and my Colyn Peterson flute. I asked my wife to listen right now, and she said the Colyn Peterson flute is sharper. I checked with a tuner and yes it is, maybe 20 cent.
This means it is sharper than my bamboo shakuhachi and propably also sharper than the yuu.
Kan seems to be as changing and difficult for me on this flute as it is on any of the other flutes I own :-), so we cannot blame it on the tool.
Esthetically it is light wood, and without utaguchi which I guess for some makes it less sexy. For me it was interesting to experience that I cannot hear/feel any difference with/without uaguchi.

As it is one piece I feel it is much less fragile, and I bring it around a lot when I am with my three year old daughter. I even brought it outdoors today as she was skiing. At minus 7 C it became quite strange in the sound which was not strange as ice was building inside and icicles was coming from the rootend. So far it seems to have taken the challenge well.

I don't know what a flute like this will cost, however I would not hesitate to buy it myself or recommend it.
Also, being in contact with Colyn has been a pleasure, he fixed the joint and a hairline crack on my Peter Ross and was very efficient with posting etc. Compared to the shakuhachiyuu I can say for my self that it makes a difference that it is wood, not plastic, and that someone made it, with passion and love I presume. These skills are art and divine activities imo.

I have photographs, and will look more into posting them here, however I don't have time now.
But you can see photos at
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2 … cacaa367c5

Last edited by Jivanmukta (2010-12-05 15:01:40)


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#2 2010-12-06 11:20:46

Yungflutes
Flutemaker/Performer
From: New York City
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 1061
Website

Re: Wooden Shakuhachi, made by Colyn Petersen, www.woodlandvoices.com

Looks Great!


"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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#3 2010-12-26 16:49:39

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
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Re: Wooden Shakuhachi, made by Colyn Petersen, www.woodlandvoices.com

Colyn sent me a grenadilla nobe 1.8 for review.

He knows some of my biases from discussions online so he sent me a nobe with no fake nodes and no utaguchi inlay. This would be the simplest design possible and maybe also easier to make.

As an object this shakuhachi is beautiful. I haven't taken pics of it yet, if Colyn has any maybe he will post them. If not I will take pics when I get back from this tour. The smooth lines, dark color and beautiful finish and grain of the wood make it a lovely item to behold. It is similar to some of the flutes Peter Ross made, which is not surprising because Colyn got his tools, wood and some knowledge from Peter. In terms of feel it reminds me of holding a nice pool cue. Grenadilla is a wood they use to make clarinets, so it has some history in terms of musical instruments. However I have heard they use grenadilla because it's easy to work, not because of any particular acoustic qualities. I won't get into the material debate. Well actually I will later.

Evaluating a 1.8 is interesting because 1.8 is really supposed to be a workhorse and able to do all the things a 1.8 should do. I might evaluate other lengths differently because they may be only for honkyoku, or some other limited application. So I am comparing this flute to good bamboo 1.8's, the Yuu, commercial Japanese wood flutes, David Brown wood flutes.

My initial impression of the flute was favorable. It sounded well in tune to the naked ear. Not the easiest flute to blow but I like that. Flutes that give it all away in the beginning usually are boring in the long term.

The tone is deep and rich. This flute takes a LOT of air and responds well whether blown softly or with intensity. There are a few quirks. Tsu is a bit soft. Otsu ro can be a bit unstable when blown hard, but I was able to get a handle on it with a bit of practice. Putting it on the tuner, it seems to be tuned to A=440 but as I got into it sometimes went up to around 442. Kan ro and hi go are a bit flatter than otsu, which is not ideal but also not a big deal, nor out of line with some bamboo flutes. It has re dai kan (elusive on many flutes) but you have to hit it right or it goes to a different harmonic.

I played my "1.8" stuff on it for a few days in the teahouse (Chado). The flute handles honkyoku, gaikyoku, minyo and jazz well. It's musically versatile. It also has a lot of character. Basically it's fun to play and rewards investigation. I enjoy picking it up. Also several of the customers spontaneously commented upon the beauty of construction and the rich tone.

This is the only flute of Colyn's I have played. I don't know how much difference the grenadilla makes compared to flutes he might make from cheaper or more common wood. As an example I had a D. Brown ebony 1.9 that was markedly better than flutes I've seen by him from other woods. I like these hard dense woods. I rank the tone of this very high for a non-bamboo flute. It compares favorably to many bamboo 1.8's. Side by side it definitely has more mojo and sound than the Yuu. Better than the commercial Japanese wooden flutes.

I don't know what price point Colyn intends to offer these flutes but I assume they will be very affordable. I recommend it because of the aesthetics, tone, playability. If I were starting out and looking for a relatively inexpensive flute, or if I was looking for a durable flute for travel or as a backup I would aim for this one over the other available options I am aware of. Someone who mainly plays long flutes but who "needs" a 1.8 for lessons would also find it a good option. It has a lot of integrity in its own right, not just as an imitation of bamboo flutes. I think this is a good direction for non-bamboo shakuhachi. I would not hesitate to use this for any professional purpose including recording, teaching and performing.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#4 2011-01-03 16:33:17

oceanica
Member
Registered: 2009-06-07
Posts: 46

Re: Wooden Shakuhachi, made by Colyn Petersen, www.woodlandvoices.com

Here is a link to my website that has some images of the shakuhachi I bought from Colyn. 
http://www.trocadero.com/Oceanica/items … .html#item


I will start by disclosing that Colyn is a friend of mine, and we get together about once a month along with 4 others to play shakuhachi, and talk about shakuhachi music and instruments.  I am also a beginner, I have been playing for about 1 1/2 years, I play every day about 1 hour, take regular lessons and attended 2010 camp in the Rockies.
So with a grain or so of salt....
I have been an enthusiastic observer of Colyn's quest to make a wooden shakuhachi that plays well, is durable and beautiful and can be sold at a reasonable price. 
Brian Tairaku Richie has already reviewed the flute that Colyn sent him.  I am posting a link to my website with pictures of the Cocobolo shakuhachi I purchased this week. 
http://www.trocadero.com/Oceanica/items … .html#item
Colyn's instruments play well, without being simplistic or too precise or calculating.  This leads to some characteristics like chi being just a tad sharp that one finds in older bamboo flutes.  It also provides for a warm rich sound that mimics that wonderful old flute sound that so many of us look for. 
Personally, I can easily adjust for minor pitch variations, but find it much harder to adjust for tone and timbre.  While the Shin Sei shakuhachi does not have the richness and complexity say of my Ranpo 2.4, it also costs less than 1 15th of the purchase price of the Ranpo. 
I have a 1.8 bamboo shakuhachi by a well known modern maker that would run 7 to 9 times the $500 price that Colyn charges for his flutes from domestic woods and, IMHO, sounds superior, has better dynamics ( can play both softer and louder ), and is, of course far more durable. 
While my cocobolo instrument is a bit heavy due to the materials, I play an eastern red cedar shakuhachi that weighed in at about 175 grams ( that's right 175 ) that played beautifully! 
I would highly recommend Shin Sei shakuhachi for beginners, you will play one for a long time before you would outgrow it, and more advanced players who want an instrument they can take anywhere and play with the best of them!

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#5 2011-01-03 16:38:41

oceanica
Member
Registered: 2009-06-07
Posts: 46

Re: Wooden Shakuhachi, made by Colyn Petersen, www.woodlandvoices.com

One thing I forgot, very important.
the nice thing about wooden shakuhachi is that it is pretty easy to make adjustments for individuals tastes .... want the utaguchi a bit deeper, shallower, chin with more angle, less, etc.  Colyn will do this for you.  Also, he plans to offer more options at higher prices soon, like inlaid utaguchi, more " custom " designs, and possibly a 2 piece flute.

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#6 2011-01-03 18:57:33

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: Wooden Shakuhachi, made by Colyn Petersen, www.woodlandvoices.com

That looks pretty much like the one he sent me, except the grain on the cocobolo is even nicer. I like the spare lines of this design.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#7 2011-01-03 19:39:23

Mujitsu
Administrator/Flutemaker
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-05
Posts: 883
Website

Re: Wooden Shakuhachi, made by Colyn Petersen, www.woodlandvoices.com

Tairaku 太楽 wrote:

I like the spare lines of this design.

Nice design Colyn.

Yeah, an appeal of this design is that it is heading away from an attachment to bamboo. No need.

Which sparks some ideas..... What about a turned shakuhachi with an outside taper that more closely mimicked the taper of the bore? Is that what you're doing here Colyn? How would a more balanced chimney height for each hole influence the flute? That can still be done with bamboo but is perhaps more efficient and more aesthetic by turning. Interesting how these different approaches to making shakuhachi help spark new ways of functional design.

(Don't mean to hijack the thread... Just got a bit excited!)

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#8 2011-01-03 20:50:10

Colyn Petersen
Member
From: Omaha, NE
Registered: 2009-11-20
Posts: 46
Website

Re: Wooden Shakuhachi, made by Colyn Petersen, www.woodlandvoices.com

Thanks, the outside diameter at the holes is actually even across the 5. The chimney height still increase as the taper narrows. I suppose one might make an even chimney height for all of the holes, but that would at least require redesigning the finger layout and hole sizes. I think this would be an entirely different flute in ways. Sounds like an interesting experiment--might have to try it. One thing I have found in being able to change the O.D. is that I can pretty accurately predict the finger hole diameter. In leaving the measurements the same distance from the utaguchi dip, a thicker flute can have larger holes without seeming to effect the balance of otsu/kan and likewise a thinner flute has smaller holes. So, I can pretty much get the hole size desired to a degree as long as I don't get too happy with or be too timid with the gouge. This may serve in finding comfort for individual players preferences I hope.


Though images may appear on the surface of a mirror with clarity, they are neither in the mirror, nor sticking to its surface.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

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#9 2011-01-04 07:09:24

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: Wooden Shakuhachi, made by Colyn Petersen, www.woodlandvoices.com

Mujitsu wrote:

is that it is heading away from an attachment to bamboo. No need.

Which sparks some ideas..... What about a turned shakuhachi with an outside taper that more closely mimicked the taper of the bore?

I've got a Kikusui Kofu 2.5 plastic flute which does just that. It's nice. Better than a cylindrical PVC flute. Also there is a flare at the "root end" which is something that could also be done with wood. Projects the sound upwards (at least on ro).


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#10 2011-01-05 14:45:14

Karmajampa
Member
From: Aotearoa (NZ)
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 574
Website

Re: Wooden Shakuhachi, made by Colyn Petersen, www.woodlandvoices.com

Tairaku 太楽 wrote:

Mujitsu wrote:

is that it is heading away from an attachment to bamboo. No need.

Which sparks some ideas..... What about a turned shakuhachi with an outside taper that more closely mimicked the taper of the bore?

I've got a Kikusui Kofu 2.5 plastic flute which does just that. It's nice. Better than a cylindrical PVC flute. Also there is a flare at the "root end" which is something that could also be done with wood. Projects the sound upwards (at least on ro).

That is what resulted when I slip-cast my ceramic "Cerute" Shakuhachi.
I began with a lathed wooden template which I then made a plaster mold from into which I poured my clay slip.
The wooden template was based on the internal bore taper.

I found clay very difficult to work with because of it being fragile before firing, ultra hard after firing, and a20% shrinkage from raw to fired.

K.


Kia Kaha !

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#11 2011-01-06 16:31:56

dstone
Member
From: Vancouver, Canada
Registered: 2006-01-11
Posts: 552
Website

Re: Wooden Shakuhachi, made by Colyn Petersen, www.woodlandvoices.com

Very attractive.  I like the lack of node and root mimicry.  Wood is more beautiful when it's not trying to be bamboo.


When it is rainy, I am in the rain. When it is windy, I am in the wind.  - Mitsuo Aida

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#12 2011-01-06 19:07:45

Moran from Planet X
Member
From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1524
Website

Re: Wooden Shakuhachi, made by Colyn Petersen, www.woodlandvoices.com

Mujitsu wrote:

(Don't mean to hijack the thread... Just got a bit excited!)

Yes, I like the minimalist look as well. The flared bore gives just enough nod to traditional shakuhachi shape as to make it "real" without the kitschy, pseudo-bamboo details.

I'll be very excited to hear of your progress.

Thanks for stepping up and stepping out.


"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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