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#1 2007-06-18 16:18:50

amokrun
Member
From: Finland
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 413

What defines the "style" of the shakuhachi?

When you look around on various sites that show different kinds of shakuhachi they often say something like "Kinko Ryu shakuhachi by ...". As far as I know, the three most common variants at the Kinko, Tozan and Myoan shakuhachi. Usually these also have the utaguchi that corresponds to each school, yet sometimes you may have for example a Myoan shakuhachi that clearly has a Tozan utaguchi. I'm sure there are also plenty of other styles that may or may not correspond with specific utaguchi types.

Thus my question. What exactly defines the type of a shakuhachi? Does the maker just say that this particular flute is so and so or is it something that is part of the way the flute is built? Also, recently there have been all sorts of names given to the instrument by different schools. Are these instruments in their own category or does it make sense to say that an instrument is a Kinko -style hochiku?

Thank you for any assistance that you may provide. Links that could help to explain the situation are very much welcome.

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#2 2007-06-18 17:16:35

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: What defines the "style" of the shakuhachi?

Good question and one a lot of people are probably interested in.

In the past all makers were players too and they would make shakuhachi suited to playing the style of music of their ryu. And put that utaguchi on it. So a Kinko player like Miura Kindo or Yamaguchi Shiro made flutes that were good for the Kinko ornaments and melodies and used a Kinko utaguchi.

The Tozan ryu originated in the Kansai which was also the home of Myoanji and a lot of the Myoan players. Tozan himself was originally a Myoan player. So he stayed with that utaguchi, that's why they look the same.

However Myoan flutes were used for different musical purposes than Tozan flutes. A lot of the Myoan players liked one piece jinashi flutes so you get a lot of those. VERY low percentage of Myoan flutes are good musical instruments because the Myoan players were not particularly concerned with making the flutes in tune and were not at all influenced by Western ideas of pitch.

Tozan on the other hand is very Western influenced so while he maintained the large bamboo and tapered bore with a small end hole of the Myoan flutes they also started adding ji and tuning it because a lot of their music was ensemble and also shakuhachi in harmony.

Nowadays most of the makers are pros and not necessarily performers as in the past. They make flutes for money. Most of the modern makers do not change the style of their flute. They make the same flute for Kinko or Tozan players and then stick that utaguchi on it. Nowadays there is no difference between Kinko and Tozan flutes aside from the shape of the utaguchi.

On the other hand most of the people today making Myoan flutes are also Myoan players and their flutes tend towards one piece jinashi and use either the Myoan utaguchi or no utaguchi.

Hocchiku and Kyotaku are marketing terms used by respectively Watazumi and Nishimura Koku to call their long jinashi flutes. Basically they are long jinashi Myoan flutes and both of those players came out of the Myoan tradition.

This is somewhat simplified but I hope it's helpful.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#3 2007-06-18 17:54:19

amokrun
Member
From: Finland
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 413

Re: What defines the "style" of the shakuhachi?

Tairaku wrote:

However Myoan flutes were used for different musical purposes than Tozan flutes. A lot of the Myoan players liked one piece jinashi flutes so you get a lot of those. VERY low percentage of Myoan flutes are good musical instruments because the Myoan players were not particularly concerned with making the flutes in tune and were not at all influenced by Western ideas of pitch.

Was there some sort of standard for which they aimed or are they all totally different in how the tuning is off?

Tairaku wrote:

Nowadays most of the makers are pros and not necessarily performers as in the past. They make flutes for money. Most of the modern makers do not change the style of their flute. They make the same flute for Kinko or Tozan players and then stick that utaguchi on it. Nowadays there is no difference between Kinko and Tozan flutes aside from the shape of the utaguchi.

Are the new instruments equally good for, say, Kinko style music than the flutes specifically made for that purpose back then? I'm just curious if the reason for only making one type of flutes today is that the modern flutes are technically superior and thus they don't need to focus on one aspect. I would assume that if the old Kinko-specific flutes are superior for playing that type of music someone would still be making them.

Tairaku wrote:

On the other hand most of the people today making Myoan flutes are also Myoan players and their flutes tend towards one piece jinashi and use either the Myoan utaguchi or no utaguchi.

Are they still made today without focusing on western tuning or are the more recent Myoan flutes closer to others in pitch?

Tairaku wrote:

This is somewhat simplified but I hope it's helpful.

It was quite helpful, thank you. This is a fairly confusing topic because you have many things that are called the same (flutes, utaguchi styles, schools...) but one doesn't necessarily imply the other (Myoan shakuhachi with a Kinko/Tozan utaguchi for example). It's hard to really understand when a flute is really something and what makes it so. Is it generally possible to take just any flute and tell what it is without having anyone tell you anything about it?

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#4 2007-06-18 18:01:12

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
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Re: What defines the "style" of the shakuhachi?

amokrun wrote:

. Is it generally possible to take just any flute and tell what it is without having anyone tell you anything about it?

Sure if you study and have some experience.

I can look at a flute and tell the general age, ryu, whether or not it's jinashi, repairs (usually) and sometimes the maker. Sometimes there are unsigned flutes yet it is obvious who made them.

I learned a lot of this stuff from John Singer. Especially about Kinko, Myoan and Edo flutes.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#5 2007-06-19 20:44:01

Jeff Cairns
teacher, performer,promoter of shakuhachi
From: Kumamoto, Japan
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 517
Website

Re: What defines the "style" of the shakuhachi?

Well put Tairaku,
I think there is also some question of timbre or coloration as it applies to either koten or modern pieces and the instruments that tend to play them.  In my experience, a comparatively darker, woodier sounding , possibly even flatter pitched insturment is desirable by many koten players (who consiquently tend to be kinko ryu) and a brighter, perhaps harder sounding instrument pitched to a tempered tuning is desired by players of modern music (who tend to be tozan ryu.)  These differences are acheived in the instrument's design and construction largely.


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#6 2007-06-19 21:08:27

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: What defines the "style" of the shakuhachi?

Jeff Cairns wrote:

Well put Tairaku,
I think there is also some question of timbre or coloration as it applies to either koten or modern pieces and the instruments that tend to play them.  In my experience, a comparatively darker, woodier sounding , possibly even flatter pitched insturment is desirable by many koten players (who consiquently tend to be kinko ryu) and a brighter, perhaps harder sounding instrument pitched to a tempered tuning is desired by players of modern music (who tend to be tozan ryu.)  These differences are acheived in the instrument's design and construction largely.

Yes that's true Jeff. A good Kinko shakuhachi is mellower and sweeter than most of the modern flutes favored by Tozan players. But then you go even mellower and more hollow sounding with most of the Myoan flutes and hocchiku. The "Dokyoku" players who follow Yokoyama Sensei are an anomoly because they seem to prefer bright modern flutes not so far away from the Tozan sound.

But of course the most important factors in tone are the music and the player.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#7 2007-08-02 12:09:19

Zakarius
Member
From: Taichung, TAIWAN
Registered: 2006-04-12
Posts: 361

Re: What defines the "style" of the shakuhachi?

Do the utaguchi which respond to the various schools of shakuhachi making (and playing) really have an effect upon the instruments' sound, or are they in fact simply representative of their school's aesthetics?

Zakarius


塵も積もれば山となる -- "Chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru." -- Piled-up specks of dust become a mountain.

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#8 2007-08-03 02:28:35

Daniel Ryudo
Shihan/Kinko Ryu
From: Kochi, Japan
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 355

Re: What defines the "style" of the shakuhachi?

I don't think the utaguchi's have an effect on the instruments' sound and as you say, they are probably just representative of the school's aesthetics.  I haven't played enough flutes with different utaguchis to be able to say from personal experience, but I usually buy my flutes from a shakuhachi maker named Gempu Morikawa who makes both Tozan and Kinko flutes, and sometimes even flutes with an utaguchi which is something of a blend between the two; he has told me that the difference in shape between the standard utaguchis has no effect on the sound.

Last edited by Daniel Ryudo (2007-08-03 02:29:33)

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#9 2007-08-03 02:33:02

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: What defines the "style" of the shakuhachi?

If there is an utaguchi inlay there is no difference in tone between different shapes. But there is a difference in tone between a flute with utaguchi inlay and without. The one without has a more natural sound. And the one with has a bit more clarity and projection.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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