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I'm trying to simply put together a little paper for my own use on the simple history fuke shu shakuhachi. After all, that is where it all started (pretty much)! So i have several questions for the scholars!
1. P'u-k'o (Fuke) was a chinese ch'an buddhist who never even played a flute! He rang a bell and recited the Mei/An (Myoan, Meian) poem!
2. Chang Po (Chohaku) wanted to be a student of Fuke, so being in love with the flute, single handedly wrote the first ever shakuhachi piece, "Kyorei" to imitate the empty bell teachings of Fuke! I don't understand why this guy is not worshipped by all shakuhachi players!!!!
3. Kakushin went to China from Japan to learn Ch'an buddhism and learned to play the shakuhachi from Chang Ts'an (a direct descendant of Chang Po)! He then brought all this back to Japan where the Fuke tradition started!
4. So the first true Honkyoku should be the 'Myoan/Meian'! the pieces that were created by Chohaku and his followers! Why can't I find any listings of an original Myoan Honkyoku anywhere?!
5. Is the Koten Honkyoku the same thing?!
Obviously i have a lot more learnin to do!
Yeah, shakuhachi history is very confusing, but that's because it was meant to be confusing. The komuso were trying to confuse people by coming up with myths. A lot of the original shakuhachi documents are intentionally misleading.
Regarding what are the original honkyoku, it would appear that the Myoan pieces are, but nobody knows which of those are original and which were later composed by Higouchi Taizan. Myoan history is also very confusing.
Kinko is the oldest continously operating ryu. But it is known that those honkyoku were composed by Kurasawa Kinko from musical material he gathered in his travels.
Koten honkyoku refers to temple honkyoku. "Koden" honkyoku refers to the three "original" (which in their present form may not be the original) honkyoku, "Kyorei", "Mukaiji" and "Koku".
Torsten Olafsson's book is fascinating in the way it deals with these issues. Check it out.
Welcome to the world of shakuhachi history and mystery. In the end musically it is best to find which music appeals to you the most and play it for that reason, not because of the myths attached to them which could be false anyway. Still it's fun to study the mythology.
Also, I have heard that, just as others have done in the past, Higuchi Taizan also "reformed" the pieces that compose the Myoan Taizan-Ha. That is why it is termed the Taizan-Ha nad not just Myoan. Not to mention there is the Myoan Shimpu-Ryu also. As far as what is the "first true" Honkyoku, that is probably impossible to know. This is an oral tradition and what we play now would probably be unrecognizable by the person that even wrote the piece.
Do not try to know the actual history of Honkyoku. Even form the first point about Kakushin going to China and bringing back shakuhachi, it pretty much has all be proven as false. I actually wonder why people still continue to use these myths as true. I agree with Tairaku, just play what you like. Also, I really like Torsten Olafsson's research on these points. It seems like he really tried hard to uncover actual facts.
Last edited by -Prem (2007-09-17 19:34:22)
As far as what is the "first true" Honkyoku, that is probably impossible to know. This is an oral tradition and what we play now would probably be unrecognizable by the person that even wrote the piece. -Prem
Kurahashi Sensei said that some people in Japan put the honkyoku into a computer and analyzed them and tried to create a tree which showed what were the basic honkyoku and which were developments. And that the current versions of "Koku" and "Mukaiji" according to computer analysis were actually fairly recent in origin, but that "Kyorei" was indeed the one that looked like the oldest.
On the other hand I read somewhere (perhaps in the liner notes to Akikazu Nakamura?) that Kyorei is actually more recent and was derived from the opening sections of "Banshiki". There are certainly strong similarities.
Of course people like me who don't read Japanese are at a big disadvantage because we can only get second hand information at best.
There are a few people like Riley Lee and Kiku Day who are both performers and researchers but most people are only good at one or the other.
I am someone who believes that the Myoan version of Kyorei derives not from the Myoan piece Banshiki, but from the Kinko piece Banshiki-cho. This is based on carefully analyzing the two pieces (Kyorei and Banshiki-cho) musically, as I am NOT a historical researcher like Kiku or Riley. There are several people who are of this opinion -- Keisuke Zenyoji, for instance, mentions it somewhere. There are others who hate this idea and really don't want to let go of the notion of Kyorei being the great original piece (Kurahashi-sensei for instance), but I think often our ideas of what "oldness" sounds like are somewhat superficial. In any case, it's wonderful music.