Take Wo Fuku - Playing Bamboo CD by Kinya Sogawa
From Kinya’s notes.
By taking a length of bamboo, removing the partitions of the joints, making an oblique cut for the mouthpiece and opening five fingerholes, you can make a simple musical instrument that can be played in an infinite number of ways. Especially with the Classical Honkyoku repertoire (solo pieces played by wandering monks), the simplicity of the instrument becomes the matrix for truly wonderful fingering and breathing techniques.
Choshi The simple structure of the piece lets one absorb oneself in sound. (Played on 2.2)
Suzuru What sounds like “korokoro” is called “korokoro.” (1.8)
Sanya A simple yet wild piece. (2.5)
Nagori Ned Rothenberg wrote this piece for Kinya. In Ned’s words: “A note is so much more than the pitch”…it undergoes a transformation as “ the sonic image turns into its trace.” (2.7)
San an The melody is beautiful, full of musical turns so suited to classical shakuhachi. (2.1)
Shingetsu Time passes quietly. (2.5)
Reibo A piece full of changes between stillness and dynamism, difficult to control. (2.1)
Kudari-ba Belongs to the category of lighter, playful pieces known as gikyoku. Sometimes playing in a lighter mood feels good. (1.0)
Kokyo Composed in 1970 by Miki Minoru for Yokoyama Katsuya. In Miki’s own words: “Kokyo means the uneasy heart of the musician and his cry of prayer.” (2.5)
Isle Royale In Elizabeth Brown’s mysterious duet, unexpected, inventive techniques evoke the haunting cry of loons. (1.8 x 2)
Koku Striving for a sound that flies perfectly straight and endlessly far. (2.5)
An Introduction to Kinya Sogawa’s Blowing Bamboo by Ned Rothenberg
In my 30 year odyssey with the shakuhachi I’ve sometimes struggled with a certain disconnect in the community of its practitioners. The music and philosophy of the instrument flows from an ideal of ego-less exploration of the breath. However, by adorning themselves with purchased titles, weighty ‘names’, and assorted rankings a la the martial arts the shakuhachi scene can be a highly hyped, ego-driven, competitive place. Ambition may become a major reason players gain public exposure, rather than the musical depth of their art. Of course I am describing something that happens to some extent in all the arts, but the contrast to the underlying philosophy of the instrument makes it somehow more troubling.
This preamble is a way of stating why I was so pleased to produce this cd by Kinya Sogawa. I’ve known Kinya-San for over 20 years since first meeting him as a fellow student of the late,great Katsuya Yokoyama. Right from the beginning I found him fascinating and different. He was not ‘hustling’ to gain notoriety but working very hard with a much more interior focus. He had the calm demeanor of a true master blended with a childlike curiosity about musical and practical elements of life. Like the players of old he not only played but also built the instrument, searching for the unique sound within each piece of bamboo. (In fact I have been playing a flute of his for many years now and it has become a deep and faithful friend.)
While always eager to learn from his teachers there is in Kinya an honest and centered independence of spirit that gives his playing a unique sound quality and an almost effortless weight. Today, one can hear a musician, who for all his training and technique, still approaches each time he blows into the flute as a kind of exploration, not merely executing a known set of sounds but joining the heart, ear and breath into a unified expression.
This video is of the actual recording session for Koku and this take is on the CD.