woensdag 28 september 2011


I want to talk a little about relaxation. During the shakuhachi event in Prague, one 'class' was about relaxing, which was given by Christopher Blasdel. Het talked about it and we did excercises to become more relaxed. Some where based on Aikido I believe. I sometimes feel it is quite difficult to relax most of your muscles and use the one you need for playing. Your body has so many things going on at the same time, they can be hard to notice. Some reactions seem te be more under unconscious control. Like tensing up the shoulders or muscles in your face like the jaw. It can become a conditioned state. I notice when I am focussed that my jaw seems to tense a bit automaticly. So asking yourself about your state and be present during playing (or anything you do) makes me aware of the state of your body and relaxation. I feel the latter is quite important in getting a good sound and nice playing. But how hard it can be to change it! Relaxing on command is difficult. I feel a more gentle approach might be better for it. And playing Ro, that is a good way to sense the body and let some unneccesary tensions go. How relaxed do you play the flute? (or 'play' life?)

dinsdag 6 september 2011


In the Shakuhachi student concert in Prague I signed up for a solo piece (Tamuke). I have performed before on other instruments and with singing. This was not the case with the shakuhachi. So the "head has been chopped off", so to speak. I was rather nervous in the beginning and didn't loose all of that during playing. I think it is a good experience to do so and to practice playing like this. I had signed up quite early and with some anticipation I listened and watched differently performing the pro's on the concerts held each evening. When paying close attention even they are a bit nervous from the start or just before that. After they started performing, nothing was felt of it anymore though. I haven't asked though, but think this feeling prior to performing is quite normal. My admiration for performing itself grew with this experience. I think the best way to go from the first performance is to do another like it someday and get more used to perform for a larger audience. See below for a compilation of some pictures taken from my performance mixed with images from Prague and the festival itself. The recording is of my performance. (Thanks to Hélène and Ella for the footage)

woensdag 31 augustus 2011

Prague Shakuhachi Festival 2011

Here is the first of some more posts about this festival. They are not all about the festival, but are all related to my experiences there about different shakuhachi related topics! First some pictures of Prague and the festival itself to feel some of how it was. It was marvelous by the way. I have enjoyed it a lot. The city is lovely, the venue very nice and the people...Well see for your self.

Ro Buki

Class setting with Christopher Blasdel

Tea time

The famous bridge

Student Concert, Jim Franklin's piece "Dawn"

Sakai Shyodo and others listening to students performing

zaterdag 20 augustus 2011

zondag 14 augustus 2011

Workshop with Justin Senryu

Playing the piece

A few weeks ago I attended a very nice workshop with the friendly shakuhachi master: Justin Senryu.
The workshop was held in Leiden at Kees Kort's his house and was well attended. We studie two different but nice pieces: Shizu and Fudaiken Shirabe there. 
Listening to the explanations

Justin is and was travelling around Europe to visit several places. He is also going to the Shakuhachi camp end of August in Prague. There I will go as well to play some more and meet other shakuhachionado's.

woensdag 10 augustus 2011


I have taking up my other interest more then shakuhachi lately which is painting. A while ago I posted my first self portrait. Now I have a site dedicated to the painting I do. It is mostly in oils. Just as with the shakuhachi, painting is a journey into unknown territory. Everytime you seem to learn something else, something new. Sometimes you make nice paintings and other times it won't work. See the similarity with playing the flute? I do, and that's what makes it interesting too! In both there is a thing of beauty or soul which is hard to grasp or understand in a rational manner. It is a thing which can only be sensed or experienced. See more of my works at www.basnijenhuis.com which is the site I mentioned.

zondag 8 mei 2011

Sold: 1.8 Kono Gyokusui

Shaved Roots for weight reduction and because the roots were in bad shape before
This will be a larger entry on my very nice Gyukusui. I have two and decided to let one go.
Looking at the more simple hanko it seems most likely that it is made by Gyokusui Kono the first. It is a warm full soundig player, capable of all things a good shakuhachi must be able to do.



Originaly I got this flute from Jeff Cairns, who has nice flutes for sale now and then. Before the restauration the flute underwent this was what Jeff wrote about the flute:

This is an excellent example of Gyokusui Kono's work. Dense, hefty madake with a buffalo horn Tozan utaguchi inlay and very unusual Higo Zogan (black steel with gold inlay - Damascene crafted in Kumamoto, Japan) nakastugi rings depicting a wild boar running into a bamboo grove.
Expert repairs of inlaid rattan binding have been done to the upper half of the instrument with no comprimiseto playability or sound quality.
Plays in tune with even intonation up into the 3rd octave. A warm, full sounding player. 
Gyokusui Family of flutes, mine is most left
The flute was cracked before I got it and that was professionally repaired with inlaid rattan bindings.
Unfortenately the flute had been altered as well. Someone had made the blowing part smaller. This effected the ro, tsu and re, they were not so full sounding and the Dai Kan 'e' Yon no ha was too difficult to sound. I decided to let Perry Yung take a look at it and for the better! He precisely restored the flute to its most original specifications with his low impact approach. The roots were a bit damaged or worn (or eaten, ha ha) so the were reworked and shaved in the end. The flute is a dense one, about 500 grams, so the shaving was ok and it looks nice as well.

Here is a list of things that were done restoring the flute:

- Reshaped back wall of utaguchi to sharpen the edge. Before it was customized detrimentally by rounding it.
- Removed some Ji material at the top inside the bore that was not original. This made Ro very stuffy and unresponsive.
- Spot tuned at four areas - top, middle of top and where both ends meet at the joint. These areas helped Ro, Tsu and Re and Ha Yon.
- Made Joint more snug. It rock previously. There was a gap on one of the top joint as the bamboo warped after the crack. This went up into the middle of the top and was a reason why Re and Ha Yon was not good.
- Cosmetic work by shaving the root.

I've also contacted Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin to tap from his knowledge about this making family. Here is what he wrote back:

As for the HANKO question, unfortunately I have never seen the first posted - very simple - Gyokusui Hanko. When I first read your email, I thought that I would see the very close (but definitely different) HANKO that is written GYOKUZAN. For this HANKO belongs to GETSUDO's younger brother - GYOKUZAN. However, the simple GYOKUSUI may have been an early HANKO used by GYOKUSUI  I. The latest GYOKUSUI (the grandson of the original GYOKUSUI I) uses the same HANKO and is a formidable maker as well. So, without a doubt all 3 generations use the same HANKO. The only question is about the simple HANKO.

(By the way, they did work together and the in the final 20 years of Gyokusui I's life. Perhaps over 90% of the Shakuhachi were usually made by Getsudo. But the old man would not let a flute out of his House without his approval. At that time onjly, did he put his HANKO on the flute.)

As for Any of them being a "Tozan" maker:
1-Since WWII, no one really makes the old-style Tozan-flutes.
2-The Utaguchi shape is really only made Tozan or Kinko- style in deference to the Sensei  and style of the person who ordered the flute.
3-Since GYOKUSUI s have always lived in KANSAI (in Toyonaka - near the Osaka Airport. This is also where Nagahiro Shinzan lives and works.), almost all of the Sensei in Kansai are Tozan (with the notable exception of Kurahashi Yodo I and II, among a few others). So they almost always (but not always) will use the Tozan Utaguchi. But THE REST OF THE FLUTE IS ALWAYS MADE IN THE KINKO-STYLE . You can see that even Shinzan (who always uses Tozan Utaguchi-shape, actually always makes Kinko-sty;e flutes- just like Gyokusui.
4- Notice that on all of these flutres the #3 hole is always smaller - in Kinko-style - among the bore differences, etc.

It is only the Utaguchi that is Tozan, about the Gyokusui flutes.The reason that I believe that they are so special is that they are ideal for Gaikyoku as well as Honkyoku. That is, they don't have the crisp, loud" sound (like Zenmura, etc,) that would be best used for Gaikyoku and Minyo, but have this sweet, wistfull sound that is excellent for Honkyoku. Even though I specialize in longer flutes for my Honkyoku playing, it is good to have a sensitive sweet instrument for playing Honkyoku on 1.8 Shakuhachi.

So quite a flute with a history. To hear some sound see below:


maandag 2 mei 2011

Kurahashi Workshop and WSF 2012

Yesterday on a sunny Sunday, Kurahashi Sensei held a very nice workshop about the Kinko piece 'Akita Sugagaki'. On of the Kinko Honkyokyu. He explained some rule about Kinko style of playing en we worked our way through this piece, which seems to have no special meaning. If you want to give it a go, you can find several PDF's of songs and the one mentioned above here
The Buddistic Broadcast also recorden aspects of the workshop, so that may be on the air someday. When it does I'll add the link to that as well.

Kurahashi also told more about the World Shakuhachi Festival in 2012 Kyoto, which he is organising.
He told a site will be up about it in a few days. The core shedule will be like this:
May 31th (Friday) : registration en welcome event
June 1st: International Shakuhachi Concert, which will be on all day
June 2nd: Unique, Rye concert als schools are showing what they are all about, and in one concert hall...
June 3rd Master Concert
June 4th Another International Concert

On the 'side' there are many workshops, small concerts, one special one held at the Myonji Temple, which is there annual concert.
During the WSF there is also a Noh-play event. So a lot to experience in Kyoto next summer.
Better start up saving, or selling a flute to get there :)

dinsdag 19 april 2011

Video: Change Has Come - Brian Tairaku Ritchie & Jim Moginie

Nice song, check it out below!

New Forum!

 I've posted before about the demise of the olde Shakuhachi forum, aka Shakuhachi BBQ. But despair not. 
Come al hither: the new Shakuhachi Forum, the European Shakuhachi Forum! All continents welcome.

Dutch Radio Broadcast of Kees Kort

Listen to the one hour of Shakuhachi talk and live music of Dutch Shakuhachi player Kees Kort. It was broadcasted on Salto Omroep Amsterdam. It is in Dutch language. Listen here

maandag 7 maart 2011

Shakuhachi BBQ out of bamboo-coal?

The worldwide forum just seemed to stop working all of a sudden! It can be used as an archive of all the posts which have been made by the large group of forum member. I have posted there and lately have been reading mostly. It was always a nice way to spent time and read about all that is shakuhachi...Unfortunately this seems to be no more! Did they throw the shakuhachi in the BBQ? (Are they mad?) Well I don't think so but it comes as a surprise as the moderators and founders, Brian Tairaku Ritchie and Ken LaCosse, put an end to it all. Hopefully they will reignite the BBQ (the forum was called BBQ fore some reason).
Before that: thanks for running the forum guys! I enjoyed it.