Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Shakuhachi: The Japanese End-Blown Flute is both simple and complex
The one shown here was made in Japan by shakuhachi guru Tom Deaver. Tom died last year and left behind hundreds of fine instruments used throughout the world.
The airflow gets the energy going, and the fingering controls the length of the resonant column, while the angle of the shakuhachi to the face plays an important role in producing sharps and flats, or more.
All the explanations of how it works do not describe how it sounds, or why the shakuhachi has such a natural sound, even earning the term "the sound of nature". Our ears, tuned to hear complex things, interpret the wind and the trees together, and apparently recognize this instrument as an organic part of that scene.
I play the shakuhachi, not very well, but when I am by myself I play brilliantly enough. I found that looking out over a vista or some distant field makes it much easier, but I don't know why, exactly.
Posted by Bob Crowley at 2:04 PM