dinsdag 29 december 2009
maandag 28 december 2009
zondag 20 december 2009
The picture above is of my 3 1.8's: a Kitahara, the Yuu (tainted) and my fav: Gyokusui. This pic is to see the difference in backhole position. I am thinking of letting the hole of the Kitahara (top) getting replaced for better tuning. In that flute, the hi and go no hi were pretty high compared to the rest of the flute. so hope that helps. For the repair the flute is in good hands (Perry Yung).
zondag 29 november 2009
This was a wonderfull year shakuhachi wise: I learned a lot, practices a lot, meet a lot of new interesting people, met two very different and wonderfull teachers who help me along the way. One is at the other end of the world, but with a lot of help from the technology today online lessons is possible as well!
I underwent a very energetic 4 days of summerschool and I have learned a lot of new things. Now that I am one year on the go, I notice the learning slows down more. At first there were more 'oooohs and aaaahs' then nowadays. The music or pieces I can play now are actually more interesting then in the beginning, so one reccomendation to beginners: start and keep at it.
Thank you as well to the readers up till now!! The interaction via this blog adds more depth into my playing and experience. Thanks!
For fun: I recorded Tsubaki Saku Mura to listen to. More of Fukuda Rando I recorded can be listened. I recorded this song (name doesn't come to mind) with my Edo flute.
I like to play his songs; they are quite diverse and moving.
dinsdag 17 november 2009
This version is played on my 1.8 Gyokusui.
maandag 9 november 2009
Selfportrait, oil on canvasboard. 30' x30' (cm).
zondag 8 november 2009
zaterdag 7 november 2009
A flute like this, dated to late 19th century, will give you a glimpse of that time and past. Due to the imperfect tuning, normaly to this kind of flutes, it is more suited for solo play and honkyoku.
click to hear me play Fukuda Rando on this flute:
vrijdag 16 oktober 2009
maandag 5 oktober 2009
More radio can be listend to here. It is the first of a series dedicated to the European Summerschool held in Leiden. The speech is in Dutch this time, though there might be a change some of the interviews on later broadcasts are in English. The music is international though! Music can be heared from Kurahashi, Gunnar Linder, Vlatislav Matousek and more. I'll post more when more broadcasts have been.
The series will be broadcasted on 'de wandelende tak' (logo above)
zondag 4 oktober 2009
dinsdag 29 september 2009
vrijdag 18 september 2009
woensdag 2 september 2009
[What follows is from an article in the Hogaku Journal, February, 2002, by Yokoyama Katsuya, one of the great shakuhachi players of the 20th century. Yokoyoma-sensei is now in his mid-70's and is debilitated by a series of strokes, so he can no longer play, but as you can see below he still has much of value to say. He is still active in his shakuhachi school, although he must undergo dialysis several times a week.]
"In their youth, most performers have no money, no confidence, and no fame. Many times they feel insecure about their future. Even current masters got over such periods, and according to those artists, their 26th year was a turning point. Here's how Katsuya Yokoyama overcame the challenges he faced at age 26.
"I began to play the shakuhachi after hearing a record by Watazumi-sensei (sensei means "master" or "teacher" in Japanese). I was a junior high school student and was amazed by his playing, and wanted to play the instrument, not just listen to it. My father and grandfather both played kinko shakuhachi, so I was hearing shakuhachi all day. I always respected my father's playing, but Watazumi-sensei's sound struck me to the core of my being.
"If this tradition was dying out, as my father had told me, I wanted to continue it even if only for a generation, whether I could make a living at it or not. After graduating from high school and working at a company for 6 years, I came to Tokyo. It was a very difficult time for me. For the first time I realized how hard it must have been for my father to make a living playing the shakuhachi in a rural area. When I told my father that I wanted to be a shakuhachi player, he told me that he didn't want me to suffer from two types of hardships: financial and artistic.
"In Tokyo, I studied under two masters, Watazumi-sensei and Fukuda Rando-sensei.
Fukuda sensei taught me while playing the piano, not the shakuhachi. Watazumi-sensei told me 'Teaching students makes me play poorly,' even though his lesson fee was extremely high compared to other teachers! I couldn't understand the notation used in my lessons, and I cried in despair several times. Still I had to keep playing, and I used up all the money I'd saved working for those six years on my tuition.
"My practice at that time focused on acquiring good pitch. I used a tuning fork since that was all I had. I wanted to be able to improvise, so I used to play to whatever was on the radio. By doing so, I learned which size shakuhachi I should use for each song. I wasn't good at korokoro (finger tremolo) so I practiced it all the time until my fingers cramped. In order to practice tamane (flutter tongueing) I played Rokudan & Chidori using only tamane. I practiced holding my breath so that I could do so for up to 3 minutes and 20 to 30 seconds. The point is that you must become your own strict master. You cannot improve unless the bridge is burning behind you. You need to come up with your own methods and strive hard to improve.
"I am confident to say that nobody worked harder than I did to become a better player.
Some people complain that their memory isn't good, but this is because they are not trying hard enough. Or some say 'Since I'm starting in middle age, I cannot become better than someone who started in junior high school;' but this too can be overcome. As soon as you have negative thoughts you'll cease improving. Keep your mind focused on spirituality and on all creation. Keep doing what you believe is important and good. That is precious.
"Being able to study your sound from 360 degrees, from all directions, in three dimensions, is crucial. For instance, only a few people can immediately answer what 'Rokudan' is expressing, but it must be trying to tell us something. A good performance is one where the means of making the music good are beyond what the listeners can imagine. If you like someone's playing, you will study it, which eventually will bring you to a certain state of mind. If you are then satisfied with yourself, you won't improve. You should make progress by observing yourself from 360 degrees. If you play with doubt, the audience will feel the doubt or confusion 10-20 times stronger than you do. It doesn't matter if you play badly as
long as you play with all your heart. I once had such an experience. A long time ago I went camping by a lake near Mt. Fuji. I began to hear a not-so-good rendition of 'Chidori.' But I was very touched by it. Irrespective of the performance being good or bad, I think the player played with no-mindedness (mushin). I don't use the word no-mindedness easily, because I wasn't able to attain no-mindedness myself. I was desperate to attain nomindedness, so this man's playing was incredible to me. I still remember it vividly.
"I truly wanted my sound to be non-individualistic. I found out when I was 25 or 26 that the root of the honkyoku is to be non-individualistic: that is how you get a rich sound. The important thing is how much accumulation of knowledge and experience you have within yourself. This is also important when improvising: how well you can adjust to everchanging circumstances."
~ Translated by Saori and Peter Hill(April, 2002) [Additional notes by eB]
For an PDF look here.
woensdag 26 augustus 2009
Hear him play the song: here.
His story, which I found quite interesting can be heared below or downloaded (34M)
Before posting this information I contacted Kurahashi about his consent on the posting. He answered in his style: 'You may use them completely as you like.' :)
woensdag 19 augustus 2009
The flute I have for sale I put up there and can be found here.
On the forum this announcenment was made by Ken LaCosse:
zondag 16 augustus 2009
zaterdag 15 augustus 2009
Some days ago, another fellow-blogger about the shakuhachi Erin wrote about me! Well I was the subject, but not the main point of her entry. She wrote about the wondrous world of the digital era we live in and the possibilities it gives us to communicate. Because this entry had me in it and gave me a warm smile and I'll copy her entry here for my memories. The technology is wondrous, the shakuhachi world is, the flute certainly is! and Erin is a wondrous person as well! Her blog is recommended, but for the shakuhachi readers that is no news probably. Here are her words:
A few weeks ago I got together with my friend Bas to talk about shakuhachi playing and practicing. We met at home, he in his den while I sat at my dining room table. We played various of our flutes for each other and compared the shakuhachi in our small collections. Bas has a wonderful shakuhachi blog and he began his journey on the bamboo path about the same time as I. We have numerous other aspects in common, as friends generally do, and though he lives in the Netherlands I feel close to him. Both Bas and I have the same shakuhachi teacher and we find it interesting to compare notes with regards to pieces being practiced and techniques being honed. It is inspiring for me to have a friend at about the same level. Naturally I am impressed and amazed by the great shakuhachi players' recordings but to have a peer who is progressing along side of me offers a special and much more personal inspiration. I can hear his accomplishments and can feel directly encouraged by them. Sometimes when I hear a player with years of experience playing a piece, I wonder if I will ever be able to play anywhere near that level however when I hear friends play who are closer to my level of learning I feel motivated by their skill and renew my efforts believing more in my potential to master the basics which are of course the foundation of all playing which will follow. Much of this would not be possible if we did not live in the digital age. Bas and I correspond by email, within each others blogs and, most recently, over Skype. Yes, some day it would be good to actually meet and play in person but for now I feel my life is enriched thanks to technology allowing our friendship to flourish. Thank you Bas!
dinsdag 11 augustus 2009
The first and most recent (9-8-2008) is a full length broadcast and interview (with music) with mr. Kurahashi. It can be found here. Lots of music there!
Another more older (16-2-2005), but interesting is this broadcast with Akikazu Nakamura. It can be found here. The interview starts at 35' minutes. It is in English with some Dutch in between.
Another nice interview, fully in Dutch, with: Harrie Starreveld about Komuso and Shakuhachi. De moeite waard over een persoonlijke ontdekking van de shakuhachi. (17-2-2008 )
maandag 10 augustus 2009
Not for sale: the flute I bought from Brian Tairaku Ritchie: the 19th century jinashi Edo period flute aka 'El cheapo Edo'. Brian's words about it were: it is a good flute, not great, and to make it sound the best play it soft with a little vibrato. I can concur that, it isn't a flute of agression, but one with a sweet tone. Especially the kan register is unusually sweet (comment of another player on European Summerschool). Tilo Burdach played, saying he didn't like the shakuhachi sound in general, but this one sounded more friendly to his ears. He almost traded it for the Kyotaku I wanted (and later bought). The Edo flute is 1.9ish in size.
I am asking the same price as Brian sold me, it is a nice price for a nice flute I believe. The floot is in good condition. The utagushi is a bit wobbly, but smooth and this doesn't effect playing whatsoever. It is a jinashi, with some nodes left inside and a nobekan.
See pictures for more details:
donderdag 30 juli 2009
The proces of learning things interests me much, part because of my occupation, but also as a shakuhachi player. What is the right way to learn it? and is there one right way? On the shakuhachi festival in Leiden it was special to experience different teaching style's. Some more strict, some loose, some above you and some besides you, so to speak. Personally I like to informal style of teachers and I use that mostly in my work as well. But sometimes a more srict or direct approach is essential.
What is learning? Forcing your master experience or knowledge upon someone else? Or is it stimulating the inherent personal potential? Does one has to be tought to play like him\herself or like the teacher? Well I believe this difference in style of teaching had a lot to do with culture and 'the way it is' done in a given time. None is best perhaps, each has its merits. Well I can't say that I like being shouted at or scolded during a lesson, which can happen in Japan, I heared. I believe in a more humane appoach which is fortunately more common in the west.
Maybe the 'best' way is the way which brings you the closest to your goals and desires. It all depends on your desires then! For learning the flute I believe the 'west' is a good place: there are less strict rules, no playing forced in one school en more options of various teaching ways. As well many resources are available on the net. Mr. Kurahashi told me that playing Dai Kan notes was highly uncommon in Japan some time ago, it wasn't tought or tried. Only few did it. Now he told Dai Kan was a sound a beginner could make, so the pace has probably gone up on the learning curve. The most hard thing to do can't be speeded: getting a personal full tone.
Kurahashi playing Kyorei (part of concert)
One good lesson was Kurahashi told: do no forget your beginners sound when getting better. It is the soft, breathy tone and is pretty!
dinsdag 28 juli 2009
The European Summerschool 2009 held in Leiden was great! Many great teachers were present. Plenty of workshops about songs, technique's, about Kyoktaku, about meditative playing and improvising were present. It has been four days of hyper exposure on playing, flutes, and lovers of this flute. I really enjoyed it a lot. Especially the vibe and energy which was present.
Although the players were from many country's (Bulgaria, Czech, Ireland, US, Japan, Germany, Italy, Spain and Holland) all the people had one thing in common: this interest in the shakuhachi. Most of them very true to themself and authentic.
I believe the mix of contemplative, meditative, contemporary, truly original and various traditional pieces made this year a great succes. It was very inspiring to me and I'll post more about my findings about the concept of 'learning' shakuhachi and one's way with this flute: one's own way, the traditional way or the 'highway'.
Maybe if lucky I'll post more footage or soundclips.
maandag 20 juli 2009
Next week I will take part of my first big event like this European Summerschool held in Leiden, the Netherlands. I'll probably post some of it after the summerschool. Various teachers and workshops will be held, just as concerts and lectures...
Please join it if you like! For some more exposure:
European Shakuhachi Summer School 2009 in Leiden, the Netherlands.
This year's European Shakuhachi Summer School will be in Leiden, the Netherlands. It will be the first shakuhachi summerschool in Holland and it will be organised by the Dutch Shakuhachi Society KAITO together with the European Shakuhachi Society.
The date of the summerschool will be 23, 24, 25 and 26 July.
To read more details see here.
maandag 13 juli 2009
In this last contribution of my Malaysian travels, I'll post about the shakuhachi I made myself. You could call it a super fat Taimu! I made it from a big bamboostick lying around. It was in poor condition, a bit moldy and too wet. That ony made it easier to work on it with my old swiss army knife. A few blisters were the price, a lot of fun and a shakuhachi which was extremely difficult to sound. I succeeded to make 3 Ro's out of it, which were dull and uninteresting... On the picture you can see the difference with the Yuu which I took as a model, and the self-made one. Nevertheless it was fun to do and make me consider how difficult it is to make one which sound ok, how difficult it would be to make one which sounds great?? Well in respect to the Taimu's my creation better not be named that way. By the way I left it there, so when you visit Pulau Tioman, Juara village and John's place 'Riverview', you maybe will be able to make more sound out of it then I did. This place to stay is highly reccomended!
Sometimes I read on the forum about the zen and meditative aspect of playing the shakuhachi and therefore not needing good flutes. For me meditative aspectis a part of playing, but the potential of a flute as well. I like to make nice sounds, and learn to play pieces they can sounds. The meditative attitude is less orientated to development or learning the flute itself (it is probably orientated to learning more about oneself). Well I like developing in the field of the fluteplaying itself even more. So back in Holland I can go back to exploring my newest acquisition: a 1.8 Gono Gyokusai II. This is my best 'gem' until now.
Even a Gecko adds soms nice touch to the end.
I played it on my Yuu, which is pretty travelsave.
vrijdag 26 juni 2009
When home I'll post some more of my small shak adventures in this nice country with friendly people!
zondag 14 juni 2009
Now being on vacation I type this in Taman Negara, well the small town besides the big ancient 130-milion year old jungle called Taman Negara. Earlier in another jungle -Malaysia has more then only jungles- on a track walking the Cameron Highlands I slipped and injured my foot at the ankle...I have somewhat weak ankles perhaps, but you forget that in a normal situation when you don't do anything challenging with them. Well it happened -fortunately not too severe- I could walk on, for 3 hours! But now much more mindfull of where I walked and how my body and feet felt not to slip again. It was like a cripple in the jungle! Well I made it, but was surprised what the concentration I needed for walking and climbing back, also to notice how tiresome it was. Today I walked another jungle with bandage to fortify it all and it went good, walked the long cannopy walkway and crossed for 4 hours through this old forrest. I made a film playing in front of a big bamboo plant wich I intend to add later (the film)...
donderdag 28 mei 2009
If I have it right they are playing Shika No Tone (Distant call of deer).
Here it is:
dinsdag 12 mei 2009
When playing or when carrying the flute, the reactions the flute elicits are quite various. Mostly people are curious and want to know what it is you are holding or playing. They seem quite interested! More so than my experience is with a more common instrument. Then there is the name of this flute 'shakuhachi', not a name which has a real pleasant ring to it. The reaction to the sound is more even: people like it and associate it with relaxing or spiritual, zenlike music. -or people are polite- :). the shrill tones of the kan register-practise aren't always relaxing!
The most enthousiastic reaction though is from children, they are quite direct and want to try themselves immediatly, just to give up short thereafter finding out it is impossible for them to make a sound. Fortunately there is the plastic flute, which can be washed of saliva.
Here above a picture of Januari this year, during skiing in Austria. With that 2 children hanging around while I practised.
zondag 3 mei 2009
woensdag 29 april 2009
From the world discussion forum this soundclip comes which demonstrates the Honking very neatly:
This clip or soundbite was posted by Edosan and is by Aoki Reibo playing Sarashi.
I would also cite parts of Chikuzens comment on this matter:
Honking" in Japanese is called "naru" or, it's a verb, "to naru". There are varying degrees of this. Some types of names have been offered here, "honking" and "growling", etc. It would be useful to have a common vocabulary but it has to built out of shared experiences. It's a bit subjective too without the audio references. Big fat jinashi flutes don't usually "naru" according to jiari players but they glow, growl and snarl. However, jinashi people (people who play mostly jinashi) use the word "naru" also but it points to a different sound...
... There are always flutes out there that seem to "cross the lines" but in general, the jinashi flutes that "naru" usually have a narrow bore and jiari flutes that don't "naru" usually have a big fat bore.
Another viewpoint would be that "honking" is like revving up an engine to hear it run and see what it can take. It takes technique in the embouchure and breathing which means......it takes technique. Some flutes do it more, some less and some not well at all.
The reason to practice this is that it's smart to practice something you can't do since you'll have to change how you play. If you are willing to do this (change) you'll learn something from it and maybe even develop technique if you do it long enough. You can always back off this "honk" when playing according to the energy that's appropriate to the song you're playing.
So ultimately flexibility is key.
maandag 27 april 2009
Like the first line: Ro - Tsu - Re | Re - Tsu meri - Ro. Play it and you'll get the picture. It explains why sometimes other notations for the same pitch are used. The up movement used kari notes and are notated as such; they sound strong. In line 3, I wrote it wrongly: It should be noted as the note between the (chi kari). When the movement goes down, like in line 3, the 5th note has the pitch of Tsu but needs to be played soft and be a meri note: so Re dai meri is written (wich has the same pitch as Tsu in this case). So in the downward movement the second note is always played meri and soft. Now you know!
This way of notating can be found in his version of Kumoijishi.
vrijdag 24 april 2009
donderdag 23 april 2009
woensdag 22 april 2009
info from the ISS about this song:
This is an Edo Period (1603-1867) piece that originated at Itchoken, a famous temple in Hakata City on the southern island of Kyushu. The song has another name, Neagari Jishi, and was popular in Kyushu because of it's beautiful melody.
The meaning of this piece comes from the fact that songs with "shishi "("lion") in the title are generally played quickly and "kumo" of "kumoi" is the character for "cloud(s)". This honkyoku is, hence, played almost completely in the upper (kan) register and with a fast tempo. Kumoijishi is often it is used as an omedetai kyoku or a song played at joyous celebrations. It is more upbeat and auspicious than many of the sadder sounding honkyoku.
The difference is that in the workshop we played the song quite slowly, not as fast as by the example below wich is from Tai Hei Shakuhachi:
I'll post pictures of the workshop later and maybe try to record a version of this song as well to track progress.
zondag 12 april 2009
Here in the Netherlands we have a small, but nice and well organised bunch of shaku-players -if I may say so-. I have joined Kaito the Dutch shakuhachi organisation.I recently joined a master workshop of the very friendly Kurahashi. Perhaps I'll post about that workshop later. Later in summer Holland will be organising the European Shakuhachi Summer school. The following text is from the European site :
2009 - JULY 23-26 Shakuhachi Summer School in Leiden, Nederland
- Yoshio Kurahshi
- Vlastislav Matousek
- Steve Cohn
- Tilo Burdach
- Kees Kort
To register: send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Price: not fixed yet, but probably around:
- Non-members: € 250
- Members: € 200
Accommodation: help is available in finding a hotel. There are also possibilities to stay with a guest family for low prices.
MORE DETAILS TO FOLLOW
vrijdag 10 april 2009
zondag 22 maart 2009
I have acquired myself a nice old flute of about late 19th century and to be said of belonging to the edo period (1603 - 1867). to even have a flute of that era and age is quite something to me. When the opportunity arised I got this flute, which is a komosu-flute and by itself not a great flute, but a nice one nonetheless. It is a 1.9 ish flute in tune (reasonably) to itself and it plays rather 'lovely' and sweet. The amount of possible meri-ing is amazing (1 full note is quite easy -even for a beginner such as I-). The tuning is a bit tacky at parts, but can be countered.
Overall I am very happy being able to play a flute of this era. I'll post a picture of the hanko as well and hope someone will recognize it. I became interested in reading about older flutes in this article by John Singer In Search of the Magic Flute
It is a nice read and has an interview at the bottom by Brian Tairaku Ritchie.
The Hanko displays the kanji for Nakajima (Naka-shima or could also be read Chutou.
It is probably an owners Hanko (not a makers).