donderdag 29 april 2010

To sell or not to sell...?!

To sell or not to sell; that is my question. I have gathered some small collection of flutes. Some I play more then others, soms I enjoy playing more then the rest. Some are nominated for selling\ trading. But this time when I am the point to actually put it on the market again I begin to have doubts, I make a recording and listen and think: hey that has some special character to it. Maybe I should keep it. The afforiomented flute this time is the one pictured above: a Taisho era 1.9 Jinashi, two piece flute. It bears one hanko, probably of the owner, not a makers one. It has a white horn inlay and the sound is smooth and round. Not at all agressive. It is my 3rd Jinashi flute next to a Chinese madake version and a Kyotaku. If you want to take a listen, I recorded a personal version of Tsuki. Haven't  learned this one officially, so it is my interpretation.
Maybe when in doubt about parting with a flute...keep on to it a little longer (or make me an offer I can't refuse, ha ha).

dinsdag 27 april 2010

Skype and modern ways of teaching\ learning


The modern day can have many a benefit! So it is with Skype. It is a free program that can be used to call people around the world or chit-chat with them on your computer. Even with video. That the application is free also helps of course. I've used it mostly with shakuhachi lessons online I have with Michael Chikuzen Gould. This blog entry is not about reviewing the lessons itself (they are great and great value). This is about the possibility to talk to someone else on the other side of the world! How wonderfull is that! So I am gratefull this technique is available. But still I am not very happy with it...
Is has its merits, but also some other aspects I like less: you cannot play at the same time, it is harder to interact on a spontaneous basis: the reaction is a bit slower due to the connection, and talking is less intuitive and more like: person A talks, then B talks etcetera. The biggest drawback is for me the missing direct contact with a person live in the room. When attending workshops at the ESS summerschool of 2009, that was present and a great vibe of being around a master-player is very special. I know this drawback is not the fault of the program skype. I only wished a 'Dai Shihan' (Grand master) or Shihan lived nearby. Given the rarity of them Skype might indeed be the next best thing...

zondag 25 april 2010

DIY humidor Shakuhachi case

I've been working on a shakuhachi storage cabinet and now it is almost finished. I have been keeping my flutes in bags until now to keep them moist. Blowing in the bag to keep the moist level's up. The climate here is a moderate sea climate, and ranges from 35% moist to 55%. Winters are more dry. Those numbers are a bit too low. I've found myself a nice display cabint of Philips electronic gizmos and turned it into a humidor.
The first photograph is how I got it, painted black and rusty at parts. It was originally blue with Philips logo's on the plastic windows.
Unfortunately the cabinet was a bit too short to hold my 2.55 Mujitsu and Kyotaku 2.55 flutes. I have altered the cabinet like this:
cutting open the top part and folding it in, to make the room larger. On this picture you can see both the 2.55 flutes I have. The moisturizer I put on top to make room below. It is called 'oasis' here and is intended for flowers and plants.
The final result can be seen in the last shot. I painted it with a rust-paint, added a carpet on the floor. An voila a nice humidor! I used to smoke cigars, but lurking on the flutes is a tad bit healthier. The last thing I want to do is close the small gap between the door and the frame. The moist levels are better now, and even more nice: I can easily pick one flute and play!

maandag 19 april 2010

Sold: 2.4 Jiari to-be-repaired shakuhachi

Sold I have this 2.4 Jiari Shakuhachi. I got it from Jeff Cairns as an flute that needs repair. I first wanted to do that, but decided not to. The notes can be played softly, and the Ro is very weak at the moment, so I understand it needs bore work. The flute has no hanko. See the pictures. .

maandag 12 april 2010

Television broadcast of shakuhachi

For the readers who are not too familiar with shakuhachi see this video:

Tairaku who is also a founder of the shakuhachi forum is being interviewed. He also plays the instrument (Doh...)
He has a very nifty of old flutes.

zondag 4 april 2010

A blog entry ....about me!

I knew Erin was going to put an entry about me on here blog, I feel honoured with that! She has many more players and teachers featered during some months, go see them at here blog -> see the links. ->
Read is here as well:

This blog post is a little early because I am about head out of town for an adventure which will likely mean no wifi for a week or so. But I wouldn't want to disappoint you by making you wait to read about April's Featured Player, so, I thought, better a little early then a little late.

I'm delighted to be able to showcase my friend Bas Nijenhuis as April's Featured Player. Bas lives in the Netherlands and he started to learn to play the shakuhachi around the same time as I did. However, Bas is no stranger to wind instruments given his background with the recorder which was then followed by the saxophone. Bas has a relaxed approach to learning to play the bamboo flute and at the same time his commitment to instrument is clear. We both take Skype lessons with Michael Gould and often share emails and even the occasional Skype 'visit' in order to exchange ideas and impressions of this interesting musical journey. Bas also has been keeping a shakuhachi related blog - please check it out some time if you aren't already a follower.

Here are Bas's responses to the Featured Player's questionnaire:

What was it that drew you to learn to play the shakuhachi?

How I have learned to know about the shakuhachi is actually not a 'romatic' tale. I was watching -and enjoying- the movies Kill Bill and later Kill Bill 2, even though they are very brutal in a way. In the second film Bill is playing an Asian flute outside on a porch. He plays a sideways flute that sound quite esotheric. I looked it up on the internet searching for eastern flute and then came to find and first hear the shakuhachi. There even seemed to be a national organisation (Kaito) about this flute, which surprised and pleased me. I listened a bit more, read and found the international forum. The aspect -wich was stated more then once- that this flute was hard to learn I found mysterious and challenging: I wanted to play is and see if I could do it. After contacting the local organisation about purchasing a Yuu (cheap, but good student shak) I got a letter in return if I was sure I wanted to play this instrument due to its difficulty level. I was! ha ha. I contacted the chairman and he helped me on the way finding a teacher nearby and so it all began, little more then a year ago.

What is one of your favourite shakuhachi pieces and why do you enjoy it so much?

I cannot say I have one favourite shakuhachi piece. I feel I have still very little grasp of what is out there. I hear many songs, some traditional, like Honkyoku, some more jazzy or modern. I find the music of Fukuda Rando quite pleasing. They are straightforward and easy to listen to, maybe due to the western influence in them. More intrinsically rewarding and 'deep' are the Honkyoku. Listening is a start, but playing them and really listening to them makes quite a difference. It will take time and devotion to 'get into' them. I find these songs the most gratifying. Especially the more melodious Honkyoku from the Yokoyama line. Momentarily I keep comming back to Hon Shirabe and play it quite often. So time will tell if there is one piece wich I can call my favourite...

What is the one thing a shakuhachi teacher told you that has always stayed in your mind?

There are several, not just one...The first and most memorable to me is: 'don't worry about sound, just play'. It is about the notion not to worry too much about your playing: just try and do it, even if it isn't perfect; in other words: it will come. I think that gentle spirit is my spirit in playing this wonderfull instrument. One other is in the same line: if it sounds good, it is good. This one is a bit of a double edged sword: it has the same aspect of just play and make it sound nice. One the other hand there is the Japanese traditional heritage of learning to play and which is much more strict in that matter. I am in between: I want to sound good, but also want to honour the tradition. So one part of learning this instrument is learning what to play excactly, what to play more freely and what to play as I like it.

If there was only one thing you could share with a beginning player what would it be?

If you really want to learn this instrument: press on (and take lessons!!!) Lessons are most valuable especially from the start. And they are helping staying inspired and to keep the fun.
If you aren't sure to learn it: give it up.

Is there anything else you'd like to add to the "Shakuhachi Journey" blog?

No not really. Knowing what it is to have a blog about the same subject, this can be tough. Blogs can range from totally idiosyncratic to totally devoted to 'the readers'. I like the first better. I like the blog to read about your personal experiences with the flute and in that you just do that. What I am secretely hoping is to hear more from you literaly: hear or see you play. That is not about hearing you (Erin) play nice or beatyfull, I just want to hear 'you' play. Well don't feel pressed in anyway to do so anyway. It is your blog: keep it like that on!