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#1 2006-09-30 23:51:39

qualiaoftao
Member
From: Everywhere
Registered: 2006-09-25
Posts: 5

Is it me or the flute? And, maple or bamboo?

To put this question in the proper context, I am an absolute beginner, no musical knowledge at all, nada, zip.  I have a bit of an eclectic taste for music and very much enjoy the sound of the shakuhachi and music.  As I find myself aging, I have started to explore things that I feel my life, to date, has missed. Learning to make and understand music is now at the top of the list.

I currently have two "shakuhachi", I assume them to be of questionable quality, due to their purchase price, <$75.  This is not to dimish them (or their makers for that matter), they were given to me with much love, as a present.

I recently acquired a few materials to begin learning.  I have started with Bruce Huebner's "Kinko Shakuhachi for Beginners, Vol 1".  I have worked with only one of the two flutes, the one with the usual utaguchi, the other is an undercut and I find I have less degrees of movement (up and down) that make a sound.

Here is my issue: When I make the sound with all holes open, I can make it exactly as the sound on the instructional CD.  When I try to make the "ri" sound to match that of the CD, mine sound is rather flat.  If I lower the end of the flute which seems to raise the pitch (at least the way I blow on it), I run out of degrees, the sound fades to nothing but the hiss of blowing air.  I hope am expressing this well enough.  I can come pretty close to the correct pitch for the other notes. According to the CD, "ri" is the most accessable note but it is the most elusive for me.  Probably like many beginners, I have begun to question the flute.

Any helpful ideas or technics to try? Could it actually be the flute?

During my thinking about this issue, I have explored the possibility of another flute.  I have ruled out the ABS and PVC, I just can not bring myself to use plastic.  So I think my choices are a second hand maple flute from Japan or the student model from Monty Levenson.  I could be wrong here, but the other makers in the US seem to charge a bit more than I think I can afford for one to use in "formal study".  Not that my learning by CD is formal study per se, but it is my lack of knowledge and muscial ear.  I feel I need to make the exact pitch to know I am "doing it right".  Without an instructor, it is the only feedback available to me.

Am I correct in ruling out the other lower priced offerings such Perry Yung's Earth models for this stage and limited scope of my learning?  The terms used to describe them, such as "for mediation", leads me to believe they are not quite what I am looking for.  Maybe I have this all wrong, if so, please set me straight.

If I can purshase a used maple flute for half the cost of Monty's student grade, is it a better deal or is a student model made of bamboo worth it?  Maybe there is another non-plastic shakuhachi that would serve me better?

Last edited by qualiaoftao (2017-04-07 09:45:50)

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#2 2006-10-01 11:10:47

gmiller
Member
From: Ozello Trail, Fla
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 109

Re: Is it me or the flute? And, maple or bamboo?

Welcome to the shakuhachi..... and this forum.

At this very moment there is is very nice new 1.8 student level Tai Hei
Shakyhachi up on ebay for $315... Buy it if you can; I highly recommend
these flutes. There are some good maple flutes that come up occasionally,
but this could be a waiting game and cost you almost as much as the Tai Hei.
If it's "formal" study you're after check out shakuhachi.com - you won't be
disappointed.

Good luck - George

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#3 2006-10-01 11:30:43

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

Re: Is it me or the flute? And, maple or bamboo?

Each different material is going to give you variation in the timbre, softer materials seem to absorb, harder materials reflect, altering the volume of each harmonics in the mix. But this is useful to help develop your ear by listening.
I suggest you play the flutes you have without trying to imitate the audio exactly, just play the flutes and build up your sensitivity and muscle control because this takes time, the more you play the greater the development, one or two half hour sessions a day will be enough that you will notice your development.
I don't think you need a professional flute to start with, but at some point a professional, or well made flute is going to be able to allow you to develop further, in that it should be more accurately tuned in the higher notes and the shape of the blow end and holes will give you good finger response and note bending (meri-keri)
But in my opinion, it is your body that is the major part of the instrument, and unless you develop that first, you may not be able to appreciate the flute you are holding.
You may also ask, why am I doing this, to imitate the sound of others, or to generate the sound that is your own. And to do the latter I think you have to develop a curious, questioning ear. Listen to the sound of each flute without the veil of how it compares.

Some thoughts.

Kel.     


Kia Kaha !

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#4 2006-10-01 13:03:52

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

Re: Is it me or the flute? And, maple or bamboo?

qualiaoftao wrote:

Am I correct in ruling out the other lower priced offerings such Perry Yung's Earth models for this stage and limited scope of my learning?  The terms used to describe them, such as "for mediation", leads me to believe they are not quite what I am looking for.

If you haven't already seen this...  Perry talked about his Earth models and their suitability for study in blog entries.  Perry seems like an smart and accessible guy who tries to please, so I'd talk/email to him before ruling anything out.

I know you're trying to narrow your options to make a decision, but I'll throw another possibility at you (sorry!)...  Alcvin Ramos may have a selection of root-end jinashi flutes in a similar price range.  (I recall seeing them recently but can't find them on the web.)  Not the higher end flutes shown here or here, but you can get his phone # and email from there and find out if he has something suitable -- just tell him your price range and goals and other flutes you're considering and he'll be straight with you.

So many styles and philosophies of flute making!   If it's any consolation, if you buy something and feel you made the "wrong" decision, you're not likely to lose much if you have to sell it again.  (Or sellers might offer you an audition period.)

Good luck on your new musical path!

-Darren.

Last edited by dstone (2006-10-01 13:06:50)


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

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#5 2006-10-01 22:41:52

qualiaoftao
Member
From: Everywhere
Registered: 2006-09-25
Posts: 5

Re: Is it me or the flute? And, maple or bamboo?

Great responses, I think I have taken a piece of advice from each of you.

George, I am very much considering the flute you suggested.  While a bit more than I would like, I think it do would do well by me.

Kel, I like very much what you have to say, it strikes a spiritual cord with me. If I had more knowledge I would be more confident in doing and being my own, but I must learn to crawl before I can walk.  I will then seek my own way.

Darren, Perry Yung's blog entry was wonderful.  It appears that deciding on one's flute is harder than leaning to play it.  Just when I thought I starting to understand, I learned how very little I do.  While there was little written I had not found thru other pages, the parts did not add up quite to his explanation.  This information will guide me in my search for my next flute, the one that sings to me.

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#6 2006-10-02 07:13:01

amokrun
Member
From: Finland
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 413

Re: Is it me or the flute? And, maple or bamboo?

First of all, I'm by no means a pro. It's just that your situation sounded very familiar.

qualiaoftao wrote:

Here is my issue: When I make the sound with all holes open, I can make it exactly as the sound on the instructional CD.  When I try to make the "ri" sound to match that of the CD, mine sound is rather flat.  If I lower the end of the flute which seems to raise the pitch (at least the way I blow on it), I run out of degrees, the sound fades to nothing but the hiss of blowing air.  I hope am expressing this well enough.  I can come pretty close to the correct pitch for the other notes. According to the CD, "ri" is the most accessable note but it is the most elusive for me.  Probably like many beginners, I have begun to question the flute.

I can't give you a good explanation what causes this, but I had the very same problem when I started. I had a 1.8 student level flute from Monty, so I was fairly confident that it wasn't the flute that was the problem. Just like you said, most notes were pretty decent, whereas ri would either be flat or disappear completely.

Although the experience is most likely unique to each individual, in my case, the problem went away after some months of practice. In the beginning it was almost impossible for me to play anything with ri in it. Now it's one of the easier notes to play and allows for more error than the lower notes.

My advice would be to just keep working on it. That's how I got past that particular obstacle.

qualiaoftao wrote:

During my thinking about this issue, I have explored the possibility of another flute.  I have ruled out the ABS and PVC, I just can not bring myself to use plastic.  So I think my choices are a second hand maple flute from Japan or the student model from Monty Levenson.

I have nothing but good things to say about Monty's flutes. I have played one for a year now. Not only does he make wonderful instruments but he is also very helpful with everything. If I would start again now, I would still start with his flute for sure. There may or may not be better makers out there, but he should be plenty good enough and more. If you can afford his student model, that's my recommendation.

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#7 2006-10-11 00:11:22

qualiaoftao
Member
From: Everywhere
Registered: 2006-09-25
Posts: 5

Re: Is it me or the flute? And, maple or bamboo?

First, again I would like to thank each for their advise.  I just wanted to follow up for those that might find themselves in a similar position.  I did go ahead and purchase a maple shakuhachi which I bought for a fair price.  I am quite pleased with it.  While it does not have the unique sound qualities of bamboo, it is in pitch.  It is much more comfortable and easier to play.

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#8 2006-10-11 00:46:12

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

Re: Is it me or the flute? And, maple or bamboo?

qualiaoftao wrote:

it is in pitch.  It is much more comfortable and easier to play.

Well those are ideal qualities, regardless of material.  So congratulations on the flute!

Keep on blowing!

-Darren.


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

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#9 2017-04-07 09:48:37

qualiaoftao
Member
From: Everywhere
Registered: 2006-09-25
Posts: 5

Re: Is it me or the flute? And, maple or bamboo?

More than years later... I still have the flute.

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