24 September 2015
Watazumido Doso Roshi was a unique character as the short clip below shows.
He's so Zen he says he had to give up Zen, when clearly, he's so Zen!
Here is a long clip of just his music. Playing such a big piece of bamboo is quite an achievement breath-wise.
As far as conventional shakuhachi goes, I like Mitsuhashi Kifu. His version of Tsuru No Sugomori (nesting cranes) is my favourite of the many versions I have heard. This piece really demonstrates the versatility of the instrument to me. There is a recording of this song by him at youtube but I much prefer the longer verison on the album: The Art of The Shakuhachi Volume I.
I listen to a lot of shakuhachi music these days and it has helped my playing on the hotchiku a lot. I still enjoy playing the western flute heaps. It's a very good instrument to play inside, seeming suited to square corners and the acoustics of hard surfaces. The hotchiku quite wants to be outside. It finds the echo of natural spaces. It likes to be beneath the sky, mingling with the birds and trees. I like to wander and play it. It is way more subtle than the western flute for this and so far all kinds of people respond very nicely to hearing it. I can't say anything but birds seem to really express curiosity on hearing the sound.
In either case, I find the best time to play is at dawn or dusk, although the evening is very good too, perhaps because then I have the time.
For a while I thought I had encountered the limits of my instrument. It is not madake bamboo and the utaguchi is decidedly crooked, but this is actually probably good practice. And amidst my terrible technique, the thing that does allow me to push the boundaries of my sound is simultaneously listening to the instrument and the silence it wants to fit into.