“For my teachers, unfortunately, certain things were, as they are for you, only tales of power”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

My New 2.4 Shakuhachi

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A couple of days ago I met my new Tai Hei 2.4 Shakuhachi and the meeting was surprising and, well… intimidating. When I first saw it I was sitting in a car – so I didn’t have a space to hold it properly – which just amplified my initial impression of “It’s huge and I can’t even get my fingers to close the holes”. The new instrument is a longer 2.4 Shakuhachi then my first 1.8 Shakuhachi and it is much heavier and massive.

Yesterday, a beautiful ray of sunset light entered my practice space and provided warm illumination. So I took out the camera and created these closeup photos hoping to capture some of the beautiful and subtle visual elements of this instrument.
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The 2.4 Shakuhachi is exactly what I had hoped for but not at all what I expected. When I got home and sat down with it, I still couldn’t hold it peacefully – my fingers, wrists and arms ached – before I even made a sound. The thought of moving a finger to play the instrument seemed ludicrous. When I tried to change my grip and posture to bring comfort to my hands, the Shakuhachi reached so high that if I didn’t move my head it would have lodged itself up my nose and into my brain.  My mind went into a frenzy, and came up with a brilliant solution … ahum … “Send it back and get a different one”. Thankfully my mind was not in the driver seat.

The first thing I did was to blow into it as best as I could to experience it’s sound. When that happened I realized that this was indeed what I had hoped for. A 2.4 is tuned to a lower pitch then a 1.8 and it’s sounds are deep and warm. The sounds also brought some calm to my mind. Then I wrote an email to Monty Levenson (the maker) and asked if he could offer any advice. He answered very quickly and had some great advice which helped bring the instrument to rest peacefully in my hands.

It’s now been two days and I am thankful and grateful for having this instrument with me. It’s amazing that despite that massive presence of the new Shakuhachi it needs to be played much more gently then the 1.8. A very gentle breath brings it to life with a deep and resonating tone. Slight changes in the position of the head greatly affect the sound as well. My fingers are learning and adapting to playing it much faster then I expected (they don’t hurt any more, even after moving them and playing).

This new Shakuhachi and my experience of it embody and clarify some changes I expect to introduce into my Yoga practice:  “more” & “more subtle”.

Thank you sis 🙂

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