“Everything we do, everything we are, rests on our personal power. If we have enough of it, one word uttered to us might be sufficient to change the course of our lives. But if we don’t have enough personal power, the most magnificent piece of wisdom can be revealed to us and that revelation won’t make a damn bit of difference.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Sound Textures

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I am writing to share some more of my Shakuhachi playing experience thanks to Jon at Shingtesu Shakuhachi who was kind of to bring to my attention that other people may actually take an interest in this. So here goes… my playing around with the Shakuhachi continues and interesthing things are appearing. I am realizing different qualities and different aspects of the instrument and my relationship with it.

I can feel the air pressing against my finger tips. Sometimes it feels like this pressure and my response to it is where melodies are born. My fingers seem to want to move before I realize it. The same breath capacity can now hold out for longer and growing periods of time on the instrument.

Fingering technique is improving. I can more accurately and delicately control the opening and closing of holes on the instrument. I am gaining better separation between my fingers – which enables me to make faster and smoother transitions between notes. I can also use coupled fingers simulatenously – which opens up additional playing range.

Sound textures are appearing. Notes can be played can be in a steady rhythm. Notes can be played closely together or widely separated. Sound can be continuous and smooth or broken. Breathing can be used together (continuous or broken) with fingering to create a sharp and broken musical pace. Sound can be clean and steady. Sound can be heavy and texture.

Melodies can take on a ‘western’ feeling – something of the blues rings out from it. Melody can sound hauntingly Japanese. Melody can completely disappear and when I am completely immersed in the playing  a story telling seems to take place through the instrument. Sometimes a sequence of notes draws my attention – when this happens I stick around them and play around – usually something happens.

The instruments has interesting boundaries and limitations. Colorful resonating sounds, whistles and bird chirping can be found through delicate movements of my head in relation to the instrument. The instrument seems to play differently when I stand and when I sit.

A tip I would offer to new players: play around with a quality of playfulness. Whenever I feel a first sign of incorrect effort or me losing interest – I gently put the instrument asside until I am drawn to it again.

This coming friday I will also hear a live Shakuhachi performance for the first time. A prominent player and teacher Yoshio Kurahashi will be performing here in Israel – I am looking forward to it.

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