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Showing off our flutes!
A big thank you to all who came to the shakuhachi making and playing workshop at the Fire Lotus Temple (Zen Center of New York). It was such an amazing experience for me. Seeing everyone make and play their own flute was magical to say the least. This participant on my Facebook feed said it best, “One of the most fascinating and satisfying artistic, spiritual, historic experiences I’ve ever had.” The next one will be with the San Francisco Zen Center at Tassajara, Carmel, CA June 25 - 27. Check at their calendar of events for the Shakuhachi Crafting and Playing workshop - http://sfzc.org/calendar
A deep bow - Perry
Hi Folks, I haven’t had a time to make a new Auld Lang Syne video for 2016 so I’m doing what I often do - recycle!
Also, some of you may be interested in my shakuhachi making and playing workshop at Fire Lotus Temple, the Brooklyn branch of Zen Mountain Monastery.
Happy New year. May you find peace in every breath! - Perry
Finally finished my mini documentary on my teacher Kinya Soagwa’s visit to the USA in 2013. Enjoy! - Perry
Sorry for the silence on this side
I’m making a joke of course since we shakuhachi players often play with silence as part of the music. I just wanted to share this artwork that my friend Paul Gardner in the UK made for me. Silence is the Ma, the negative space that is conceptually used to define the energy of many classical Asian arts, especially in Japan and China. It is the Ying to the Yang, dark to the light, movement to stillness. Much of Taoist thought is played out in older Shakuhachi Honkyoku music. I saw a great concert where the Ma was heard throughout the evening. Here’s a review of it.
Hi all, I’m performing shakuhachi in this modern dance event featuring three New York City choreographers. My main work in shakuhachi in the past 15 years has been to make accessible fine shakuhachi instruments from it’s ancient past of wandering zen monks to contemporary musicians. But I actually started out over 20 years ago playing the flute in the contemporary art world - theater, performance, dance etc… just getting back to my “roots”! May 21 - 24, West End Theater, New York City http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1556429
Hey folks, It’s a long, cold winter. Come welcome springtime in beautiful Vermont, with beautiful Japanese music! I highly recommend you attend!
Ralph Samuelson (shakuhachi) and Yoko Hiraoka (shamisen, koto) will lead a music study retreat in West Halifax, Vermont (near Brattleboro) on April 25 and 26.
Ralph and Yoko will also be performing in concert at the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro on the evening of April 25. The weekend will focus on ensemble music for shakuhachi with koto and shamisen, but will also include some attention to the honkyoku of the Kinko Ryu. Shakuhachi students from everywhere are invited to participate.
The classical chamber music of Japan known as sankyoku is a music of rich beauty and depth. Typically set to sung poetic text, it is characterized by the interweaving and elaboration of melodic line, subtle and elegant ornamentation, microtonal pitch nuance, an emphasis on tone color, and a kind of flexible breath rhythm. The workshop will explore these elements of the music and the manner in which the different parts of the ensemble—shamisen, koto, song, and shakuhachi—come together while each expresses its own unique voice and character.
2 Days of Music Study
-Saturday, April 25, 10 AM-3 PM. The focus will be on small-group study of one or two individual pieces from the classical repertoire. Students will be divided into groups according to playing experience; study pieces will be selected once the level of participation has been clarified.
-Saturday, April 25, 7 PM. Concert. “Music across Borders: Sounds of Japan”, at the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro. The program features traditional and contemporary pieces, and a new work created especially for Yoko and Ralph by acclaimed composer Elizabeth Brown.
-Sunday, April 26, 10 AM-4 PM. This day will have 2 simultaneous tracks: group study with Ralph focusing on details of Kinko Ryu shakuhachi technique and expression, and lessons with Yoko on an ensemble piece of one’s choosing (or to be chosen by the teachers if so requested).
Photo by Kenji Mori
Friends, many of you know how important I feel it is to know the history of the flute and culture. This requires research from the field. What my readers discover here comes from my actual hands on experience. The richness of my craft depends upon solid understanding based on authentic experience. During my research trip to Japan last summer, I was able to meet with respected shakuhachi historian, Shimura Satoshi, to discuss Edo Period Tunings and historical instruments. In the photo above, Shimura San is showing me the famous KYOTAKU DENKI, the document that outlines the mythical founding of the sect in China which gave the Fuke Sect legitimacy to their Zen origins. It traces the migration of the bamboo flute to Fuke Zenji, a recognized Zen master from the T’ang dynasty. Don’t get me wrong, I love fantasy - novels, books etc… but I’m talking about searching for truth here, since that’s one thing the shakuhachi can be a great tool for. If you are here, you are interesting in making your life better in some way, small or large. One way to do start is finding clarity. When history is influenced from mythology, fantasy and cultural romanticism, the only thing you can truly trust is the vibration of your very own breath in the bamboo tube held in your very own hands. Your sound interwoven with silence becomes the mirror that reflects your mind. That will tell you more about yourself than any history lesson. Having said this, I can’t emphasize how important it is to study with an experienced teacher. Without my teachers, I’d be floating in my own… well, let’s just say floating
Namaste. - Perry
Being a shakuhachi maker requires collecting as much experience about the entire culture as possible, from the simple all natural flutes used by meditative players to the highly tuned contemporary instruments played by professional musicians on stage. I have immersed myself in this “forest” for over 20 years, going directly to the sources. While I know more today than I did even two years ago, I’m reminded at my last lesson with Ralph Samuelson that I still don’t know much. The actor Jude Law said something in an interview that I recently read that hit home: “At the end of the day there’s an awful lot of what I do as an actor that I don’t necessarily understand - nor should I… you don’t always know why you did what you did.” Like Jude Law, I’m also an artist. His commitment to telling a story honestly requires that he finds truth in the material, in himself. As a shakuhachi maker, I need to understand, and embrace many truths. There’s a long road ahead and my teachers provide a rough map. It’s all up to the individual to discover their own unique way through the forest. The unbeaten path is what makes life exciting for the artist (and I think most people). A deep bow to my teachers! - Perry