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#26 2009-03-17 01:40:07

Tairaku 太楽
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From: Tasmania
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Re: Playing flat

I've taught people (other teacher's students) who play at least a quarter tone flat all the time although they've been playing for years. And I've taught people who played to pitch on their first lesson. Sometimes it's just a matter of personal energy.


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#27 2009-03-17 01:56:27

radi0gnome
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From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
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Re: Playing flat

edosan wrote:

radi0gnome wrote:

So... I'm still not convinced.

So don't be.

Nevertheless, it's possible to play with great tone (yes, even with great tone) and play flat, flat, flat.

I know that with practice I can get my tone better on meri's. It's just that without having practiced it enough yet sometimes (and I mean a lot) I lose the tone while I try bending down to it, sometimes (and again I mean a lot) I lose the tone while trying to play a long tone on the meri, and most of the time (practically all of the time) I can't get the meri note to start cleanly unless I bend down to it. However, you're suggesting that a beginner can do it without trying. I've read several times on this forum where people question about why their meri's are weak. Often they're told that that's just the nature of the shakuhachi and that the tones won't match the tone above it and will be softer. However, now I'm supposed to believe that beginners can play consistently that low without realizing it, ie, it sounds normal. Not only that, but since they don't realize it, they aren't even bending down to the pitch but starting that flat and holding it, what I find the hardest way to get it.             

edosan wrote:

Besides, why would I make something like that up? Just so you wouldn't be convinced?

No. Maybe it has to do with the reputation of shakuhachi being so flexible pitch-wise and the fact that beginners often play flat due to poor breath support and/or embouchure problem that it's become almost like the urban legend of the shakuhachi world. But shakuhachi is not that flexible that the typical beginner can mistakenly play a full half tone flat without trying. Like I said, I'd believe even up to a 1/4 tone flat. That's because a reasonably strong tone can be produced relatively easily that flat. A full semi-tone is stretching it a bit. The next time you come across a beginner that's way flat try a tuning meter, I'd bet it's not going to be a full semi-tone flat.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#28 2009-03-17 09:55:21

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: Playing flat

mysticalfairy wrote:

I posted this as a new thread and then saw this one....so thought I'd post here:

Hello,
     OK....so I just got my very first shakuhachi (a shakuhachi yuu) that i am very pleased with.  I can already produce sound as I have been messing around with a chinese Xiao for several months already.  I'm a bit puzzled though.  I bought a 1.8 with the fundamental note supposedly being D.  However, whenever I play the flute and I compare notes with my (in tune) piano, it clearly shows me playing a C as the fundamental, lowest note. 
      This puzzled me and at first I thought maybe I was sent a different sized flute, but I just measured it and it is indeed a 1.8.  Therefore, i assume that my natural position for placing the flute to my mouth is producing a two semitone meri on all notes.  Is that a plausible conclusion?
     I would certainly like to correct this, but am a bit stumped as to how.  I'm certainly underneath the skill level of *intentionally* producing meri and keri notes, so I'm not sure how to adjust my body to correct this.  Crazy.   I'm a natural meri master.

So, radi0gnome: must be the piano in this case then, because, according to you, a person of such vast experience and shakuhachi knowledge, it can't be done on a shakuhachi?


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It takes effort to attain nothingness.
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#29 2009-03-17 14:50:34

radi0gnome
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From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
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Re: Playing flat

edosan wrote:

mysticalfairy wrote:

... I'm a natural meri master.

So, radi0gnome: must be the piano in this case then, because, according to you, a person of such vast experience and shakuhachi knowledge, it can't be done on a shakuhachi?

I never said it couldn't be done. I know for a fact higher level players than me can get a semi-tone down reliably and easily and even two semi-tones down. I personally can stretch the notes down two full semi-tones in otsu, not reliably, but I can get it down there. I even believe that a beginner could try and get a half and maybe even a full step down. My doubts are that beginners are getting there by accident, thinking it's correct, and happily blowing away a full semi tone or more down accidentally. The reason I disbelieve it is because, at least at my level, a full semi tone down doesn't sound as strong as a normal tone. Any beginner after possibly playing a semi tone flat accidentally, if it sounds anything like mine, would most likely hear a weak tone and experiment a little to get a stronger tone. That's why I find it hard to believe that there are beginners and advanced beginners out there playing a full semitone flat and not knowing it until somebody or a tuner points it out to them.

1/4 tone flat I can believe because the tone quality isn't effected nearly as much at that point. I mentioned I believed a beginner could be playing 20, 30, or even 50 cents flat in the original thread where I expressed a disbelief that someone (who had been playing on and off for years) could be consistently playing a full semi-tone flat.

As far as mysticalfairy is concerned, he just recently got his Yuu. When you first get any flute that's a new kind to you that requires a different embouchure like shakuhachi, silver-flute, quena, ney, or kaval, it's extremely difficult to match pitches with another instrument even if you have a good ear because of all the wind and harmonics that occur before you can get a nice clear tone.

And, in reference to the sarcastic comment about my vast experience and shakuhachi knowledge, I'm fully aware that it isn't vast at all. But, I've seen enough questions here on the forum about how to get the meri's deep enough and tips and instructions on about how to produce full half and full step meri's that I'm certain it's a difficult technique.

This topic happened to come along at a time when I am struggling with meri's. If someone came along and said, "it's no problem, I do it all the time" but revealed that he had to practice it I'd say fine, I've got to practice more. But now, when a bunch of people step up to the plate and say "no problem, beginners do it all the time without even realizing it", I'm finding I have to argue why I don't believe it. So far, there have been teachers that have said they've had plenty of students play 1/4 tone flat without realizing it, which I have no problem believing and I stated that early on. However, none have yet stepped up and said that they have plenty of students playing a full semi-tone flat. Even if they did, I'd still doubt it until they elaborated and said it was checked with a tuner because I find it's that last 20 or 30 cents that's the killer, and I know lots of people would say about that "well, close enough for jazz". But, it's still not a full semi-tone.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#30 2009-03-17 20:45:11

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

Re: Playing flat

I think the idea of a new player playing a 1/2 tone low consistently is very possibly especially if the player has had no experience with woodwind instruments before.  As such, one of the culprits of a low tone might also not be realized: that is, what is full air support.  Merely getting a consistent tone, though not fully supported and consequently flat, would be the measuring stick for gauging the rest of the achievable notes on the instrument.  Thus, creating a consistent flatness that a more experienced player would be able to pick out right away, if not because of the relative pitch problem then because of the relatively weak nature of the tone.  This is where a teacher would/should help.


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#31 2009-03-18 16:10:22

Ambi
Member
From: Leeds UK
Registered: 2006-06-22
Posts: 108

Re: Playing flat

Hi Charles, after 2 years playing I Still struggle to get up to 293Hz consistently for Ro on a Yuu, hope you don't mind some observations:
Played up to pitch the tone is thinner and breathier, I can manage 15-20 seconds long tone.
Played flat (288) I get a much richer (nicer) tone and can do 30-40s blows with more control of dynamics.
Full dai meri I get below C round 243hz, a rich but very low volume tone.
Full kari I can't get past 300Hz, and lose any dynamic control - it's pretty much all or nothing.

I have thick lips, particularly the lower, and to get up to pitch I need to put much more tension in to clear the 6th hole, on the  other hand when relaxed (as I'm told!) my lip spreads to cover very easily.
I also have a mustache, and have noticed that the thicker it gets the deeper\easier the meri, whilst if it gets longer, so it goes over the upper lip and starts to straggle into the air stream, tone is badly affected.

I tend to have two types of practice sessions, in front of the computer with the Shaku8 tuner and audacity, long tones to pitch, playing along to reference MP3s; and more commonly when I'm relegated to the kitchen, long tones with less effort in keeping in tune and more emphasis on dynamics, practising the (2 !) pieces I Know.   

Now, as Ed would say, more long tones.

Cheers


"The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."

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#32 2009-03-18 19:03:51

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 402
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Re: Playing flat

There are at least 6 ways to get the pitch down (meri) if you want. It has to be a combination of those. That means, there are at least 6 ways to get the pitch up too.


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#33 2009-03-19 03:02:55

radi0gnome
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From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
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Re: Playing flat

chikuzen wrote:

There are at least 6 ways to get the pitch down (meri) if you want. It has to be a combination of those. That means, there are at least 6 ways to get the pitch up too.

Let me guess:
1) just getting the finger near the hole
2) covering half of the hole
3) holding back the breath some
4) dropping the jaw
5) nodding the head forward
6) wishing really hard

It gets kind of complicated, doesn't it? I got a really strong dai meri on Ro once but then I woke up. smile


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#34 2009-03-19 20:14:15

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 402
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Re: Playing flat

http://img24.imageshack.us/img24/5382/img3160p.jpg

   Radiognome, #1 & #2 are the same. Whack..Whack!

   #3 is ok.

   #4 & #5 are the same. Whack..Whack!     3 out of 6 deserves a substantial beating but #6  bought you some slack.


    Get your meris down or you'll incur the wrath of the Packer laddle!!


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#35 2009-03-19 21:24:13

Peter Kororo
Member
Registered: 2008-06-21
Posts: 82
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Re: Playing flat

Edosan wrote:

"The necessary air support will come, in time, but it's mostly about dialing in the embouchure, and getting a narrower airstream directed at the blowing edge, while keeping that 'sixth hole' open."


and from the japanworldmusic.com website:

"Kari is a process of opening the top hole*.
Meri is to close the top hole*."

First, edosan's advice is very good except this last part, and I would disagree a bit on the angle he recommends, and these two points are related:

What happens when you move to a more kari position--which is the right thing to do--is, because the fulcrum is your chin, your lips will move further away from the blowing edge. This will bring the pitch up, but will also make the tone breathy because the hole at the top has become bigger. So you need to purse your lips out so that they stay close to the blowing edge, and, as this will bring the tone down from edosan's suggested method, kari even a little more than he suggests, i.e. more than 45 degrees. The sound will then be clear and "hard" or transparent, in tune, and since the "sixth hole" won't be too big, and your lips are close, there will be less wasted breath and longer, stronger notes are possible.

Also, the more kari, the more room for meri, so you can vary your pitch more. I find I can play an open-hole otsu tsu and flatten it (without half-holing) to ro dai meri pitch (C).

This is why I think the other statement, about meri being the top hole closed, is true and yet can be misleading if you take it to mean to have that top hole very much open. In fact, the smaller it starts out, the better, because it all works on percentages. So, if you're 4mm away from the blowing edge, and getting the pitch you want means halving that distance, you're going to have to move--back and forth thousands of times--twice as far as if you start out 2mm [edit: I've often said "about half" teaching students because I find a little exaggeration in prescribing changes like this tends to expedite the desired result, but in fact the difference is somewhat less than that] from the blowing edge but in a proportionally more kari position. And, again, the tone will be better.

One last note is I've found the very large bore ji-ari flutes I like are affected more by this than narrower-bored flutes...the tone will be more reedy in the more meri position, but if you "kari-up" without staying forward the tone gets more breathy as well, kan notes will be all the harder to play.

Hope this helps and makes at least some sense. I've taught this to numerous people in person and they all get the Eureka moment sooner or later.


Since I'm in my usual nitpicking, exception-taking mood, I'll add:

"Nevertheless, it's possible to play with great tone (yes, even with great tone) and play flat, flat, flat."

Good/great tone may be a matter of taste, but I personally prefer the wide, open sound with a strong "core" tone (as some of us beneficiaries of Mr. Yokoyama's teaching call it) that one gets playing very kari (but lips close to the blowing edge) to the relatively thin and reedy tone of meri players. But, de gustibus....perhaps.

And am I to understand from the above photograph that we have yet another cheesehead shakuhachi player? I'll have to look around for my Viking helmet.....

Last edited by Peter Kororo (2009-03-28 11:16:32)


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#36 2009-03-19 22:22:38

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 402
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Re: Playing flat

Pay no attention to that man behind the Koro.

At first I thought you sounded excited about "another cheesehead shakuhachi player". Then I read something with the "V" word?  You know that even in Japan "BViking" is something grilled and eaten!!


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#37 2009-03-19 22:35:41

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 402
Website

Re: Playing flat

A question I'd like to bring up concerning meri volumes to everybody: what are you being taught about at what volume to play your (default) meris relative to your full volume notes?  I know there are songs where we play mura iki meri notes (in pitch too!) but I'm not talking about those. I was always taught, especially by Taniguchi, to play them at smaller volume. However, over the last ten years of working the Colorado camps I have noticed that some teachers and groups under these teachers have starting playing the volumes of the meri notes as close to the 'whole' notes as possible. I've noticed this more and more in the Chikushin players (Yokoyama group). It seems to be a trend when playing modern music.

Last edited by chikuzen (2009-03-19 22:37:17)


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#38 2009-03-19 23:10:09

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3225
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Re: Playing flat

chikuzen wrote:

P
At first I thought you sounded excited about "another cheesehead shakuhachi player". Then I read something with the "V" word?  You know that even in Japan "BViking" is something grilled and eaten!!

Go Pack Go!

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#39 2009-03-20 04:36:31

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

Re: Playing flat

Chikuzen - I, like you, despite the lack of a fancy hat (I'm working on it) have been taught that meri notes should be played with lesser volume than kari or even chu meri notes.  I play chikuyusha style as modified by my teacher who combines the aesthetic of his father's teacher, Torii Kyomudo to that.


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#40 2009-03-20 10:04:24

Yungflutes
Flutemaker/Performer
From: New York City
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 1061
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Re: Playing flat

Chikuzen wrote:

A question I'd like to bring up concerning meri volumes to everybody: what are you being taught about at what volume to play your (default) meris relative to your full volume notes?... I was always taught, especially by Taniguchi, to play them at smaller volume. However, over the last ten years of working the Colorado camps I have noticed that some teachers and groups under these teachers have starting playing the volumes of the meri notes as close to the 'whole' notes as possible. I've noticed this more and more in the Chikushin players (Yokoyama group). It seems to be a trend when playing modern music.

I've been taught to play the meri notes to contrast the Kari notes (in both tone color and volume). This is in accordance to the Dokyoku I learned from Kinya and the different Kinko styles I learned from others. They are all consistent.  As you pointed out, there are specific instances but the default meri is a dark tone. If we dig deep for the origins of shakuhachi music, perhaps we can see influences of Taoism - Yin and yang, the balance between positive and negative forces that governs nature: hot and cold, light and dark etc...

Akikazu has custom made flutes with many extra holes so that he can play all kinds of loud meri aside from scales with notes that are equally balanced in volume. I greatly respect his vision for the shakuhachi also.

Best, Perry


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#41 2009-03-20 11:10:50

Jim Thompson
Moderator
From: Santa Monica, California
Registered: 2007-11-28
Posts: 421

Re: Playing flat

chikuzen wrote:

However, over the last ten years of working the Colorado camps I have noticed that some teachers and groups under these teachers have starting playing the volumes of the meri notes as close to the 'whole' notes as possible. I've noticed this more and more in the Chikushin players (Yokoyama group). It seems to be a trend when playing modern music.

I wonder how much of this is a conscious decision and how much is unconscious. I know it took me a long time to mentally open up to the idea of contrasting volumes from note to note. Those trained in western wind instruments are trained to try to get an even tone all through the instrument. After a while it becomes so automatic that it can be difficult to turn off. When my shakuhachi teacher  finally got me to make the contrast between meri and regular notes I could immediately feel a new level of expression. It would be a shame to leave the contrast behind because it is one of the uniquely shakuhachi characteristics. I 'm for new concepts and have no problem with people choosing to play equal volume meri notes but I feel it would be a real mistake lose the contrasting volume altogether.

Last edited by Jim Thompson (2009-03-20 11:20:13)


" Who do you trust , me or your own eyes?" - Groucho Marx

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#42 2009-03-20 14:45:19

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 402
Website

Re: Playing flat

The majority of shakuhachi teachers teach that the meris are not only smaller in volume but a completely different "kind" of note. I have no problems with understanding or playing them as this was impressed on me from day one, but I don't know the origins of people playing them close in vol. and in "type" to the other notes. It's not a traditional shakuhachi aesthetic. In fact, meris were called "the heart of the shakuhachi". The Yin(g) Yan(g) thing is in the Dai meri, not the regular meri although if contrasting note types it could be said so for the meri notes too. For example, Tsu Dai meri is a "small" RO. So you have a big Ro and a little Ro. You should call the Tsu Dai Meri Ro, especially when you are chanting the songs and pronouncing the syllables of each symbol (note). The same for all the other dai meris. There's a big Chi and a little Chi; big Ri and little Ri, etc.etc. Opposites have a lot to do with honkyoku music and Buddhism also ("the gears of duality"). So far, it's conjecture but I imagine that with the construction of the holes developing where the bottom of the hole is carved out deeper-thus enabling meris to be done easier and louder-and the holes themselves just getting larger (if one choses to have them bigger when ordering one), has led to people being tempted into raising the volume to match closer to the other notes. The trend for faster moving melodies in modern composition over the years also could contribute to this "standardization". However, sankyoku music dispels some of that argument.  Modern composers writing using a piano instead of playing shakuhachi and composing might effect such a thing. I'm hoping some of the Dokyoku players in Japan might talk to their teachers and see what they say as they're the ones who stand out in my mind as doing (playing meris loudly).


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#43 2009-03-27 02:50:20

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: Playing flat

bmac78758 wrote:

Hello,

Pardon this newbie question - I searched the forum but didn't see this asked before, so here goes:

First a little background...I have been playing for a couple years on and off. I certainly don't practice with any regularity. I mostly play for stress relief and casual enjoyment. I have a Monty L. 1.8.

I never paid much attention before to my pitch as I never played along with anything / anyone else. But now that I have tried it - it seems my 1.8 is pitched at C#/Db rather than D. Obviously every instrument is a little different, but I highly doubt Monty would sell one that was a full half-step flat. So that leaves me as the culprit....

What is the best way to get your pitch up? Is it an embouchure change, breath / breathing change or maybe a combination?

OK, I've changed my opinion on this matter somewhat since I got a hold of a 1.8 Tensei model from Perry Yung that he says is a good entry/intermediate level flute for lessons. My experience was kind of similar to yours, Ro was a good 35 to 40 cents flat compared to when I used the same embouchure that was dead on for a wooden 1.8 that I was assuming was an OK wooden shakuhachi. Tsu was a little less flat, Re even a bit less flat, and Chi is right on from my perspective when comparing it to the wooden instrument. Perry says however that it's in tune except for a sharp Chi that's typical for many shakuhachi. 

So... I go to it and practice bringing it up to pitch and miraculously when I did the meri's I was struggling with became much easier for me than before. Simply amazing, I guess it's similar to what Peter Kororo said about playing flutes kari as much as possible so that there's more room for the meri's.

I ran into something similar to this with a 2.0 that I got from Jeff Cairns a few months ago too, I thought it was a little flat, which I thought should be unusual for a modern jiari, but I just set the tuner when practicing with it to A=435 and shrugged it off as being a curiousity. 

I figure there's one or more of a few things going on here:

  1) the wooden flute is 30-40 cents sharp. At least that's where it is if played as kari as the Tensei 1.8. I kind of doubt this is the case because of another stamped different brand wooden 1.5 that plays right where it's supposed to (F) with a similar "not kari'd to the max" embouchure.
 
  2) wood flutes designed for beginners are tuned to be somewhat flat because that's what beginners like.

  3) better instruments are designed to be played with a lot of kari so that meri's can be reached easier.

   

bmac78758 wrote:

( I know the best answer is "Go take a lesson, stupid!" but I would like to see what I can accomplish on my own first.)

Thanks for your help!

Bryan

I guess I should be going to take a lesson before saying stupid things. However, 30 to 40 cents flat is still a stretch from a full half-tone flat (100 cents). Bringing it down to C# from there is an awful lot easier than trying to bring the D on the wooden flute down though, so it's more believable that a beginner might end up playing a full haf-tone flat inadvertently. I'm still a bit skeptical that anyone would continue to play that flat for long though because it still sounds a bit too muffled to be right. All you'd have to do is listen to a recording of a good player to realize something is wrong. And the full tone flat that mysticalfairy said he was playing accidentally, that's still so hard to do deliberately I'm still finding it totally hard to believe.

Last edited by radi0gnome (2009-03-27 05:30:53)


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#44 2009-03-27 09:30:07

lowonthetotem
Member
From: Cape Coral, FL
Registered: 2008-04-05
Posts: 529
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Re: Playing flat

I will just go ahead and throw in my neophyte opinion on the meri/keri volume thing.  I am currently taking lessons from Michael, so obviously, I am trying to play the meris at a lower volume.  It is something that really endears shakuhachi music to me.  Aside from time, it seems to me to be another rhythmic characteristic of the music, and gives me an impression of the music in a constant state of expanding and contracting, like a breath or a heartbeat within the music.  I don't think that I have ever heard anything like it in other music, but I lead a rather sheltered life when it comes to being exposed to different kinds of music.


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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#45 2009-03-27 12:12:44

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 402
Website

Re: Playing flat

radiOgnome wrote:

2) wood flutes designed for beginners are tuned to be somewhat flat because that's what beginners like.

.      Not true. In #1 you said your wooden flute was 30~40 cents sharp so how does #2 come about?  If you said, "wooden flutes are made sharp because beginner's play them flat" then it would make sense but that's not happening either. You may just have a lemon!

radiOgnome wrote:

better instruments are designed to be played with a lot of kari so that meri's can be reached easier

.      No. There's kari and dai kari. For your "default" Ro.Tsu.Re.Chi.Ri you should play with the chin at "horizon" (kari).  In other words, so that your chin is parallel to the floor (I'm imaging you don't live in a fun house). Peter's statement is telling you to get your chin up-don't play in a meri buki position- so that you have room to do a meri and a dai meri after that.  It's good practice to lift your chin up to a Dai Kari position in practice (above horizon). You'll reach a point where the pitch no longer goes up any more if you are lifting the chin straight upwards. At this point things change and you'll need to focus on a different objective for your practice. Your lips eventually will move so far away from the utaguchi that you'll only get breathy sounds with a small core sound. There's something to pay attention to and learn there. It'll lead to practicing different types of breathy sounds. Most people don't do kari practice enough because 1-meri practice is easier and 2- they don't know what the objectives of kari practice are, i.e. can't imagine what results they are looking for.  You can do kari till your neck hurts and then try pulling the root end of the flute down till it hits your stomach. At that point, you have reached one physical limitation of the shakuachi. 

     

lowonthetotem wrote:

gives me an impression of the music in a constant state of expanding and contracting, like a breath or a heartbeat within the music.

Opposites? You're really onto something now.


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#46 2009-03-27 13:38:17

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: Playing flat

edosan wrote:

radi0gnome wrote:

I guess I should be going to take a lesson before saying stupid things.

Gee, ya think?

Yes, but it's not going to stop me from stop me from giving what I think are informed opinions even if I occasionally make a fool of myself.

So here I'm going to step out on thin ice again:

lowonthe totem wrote:

I will just go ahead and throw in my neophyte opinion on the meri/keri volume thing.  I am currently taking lessons from Michael, so obviously, I am trying to play the meris at a lower volume.  It is something that really endears shakuhachi music to me.  Aside from time, it seems to me to be another rhythmic characteristic of the music, and gives me an impression of the music in a constant state of expanding and contracting, like a breath or a heartbeat within the music.  I don't think that I have ever heard anything like it in other music, but I lead a rather sheltered life when it comes to being exposed to different kinds of music.

You're working with a teacher so it's probably not a problem for you, but I doubt that I'm alone with my first approach to meri's that I'm pretty sure wasn't correct. I had done enough reading to know that the meri's turn out to be lower in volume and are supposed to be lower in volume. However, lower in volume isn't exactly equal to weak. You still should be able to play the note on pitch, having it start immediately when you attack it, and be able to hold onto it indefinitely, and have these qualities every time it's played. What I was finding myself doing was accepting a weak tone that was on pitch but not reliable when playing long tones where there was no rush to find the note, but then when playing music where the note has to sound within a very limited amount of time I wasn't getting the note down to pitch because I was accepting a weak tone on the long tones as being OK.

Even though for musical reasons the notes should be lower volume with a different kind of sound, that doesn't mean you shouldn't work on be able to create the full dynamic range of the note at will when practicing. I'm prettty sure that having the ability to play the note more strongly, even if that's not how it fits in with the music best, is going to help rather than hurt.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#47 2009-03-27 14:22:34

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: Playing flat

chikuzen wrote:

radiOgnome wrote:

2) wood flutes designed for beginners are tuned to be somewhat flat because that's what beginners like.

.      Not true. In #1 you said your wooden flute was 30~40 cents sharp so how does #2 come about?  If you said, "wooden flutes are made sharp because beginner's play them flat" then it would make sense but that's not happening either. You may just have a lemon!

But... It's not only that one wood flute. There's also another wood flute of a different brand that plays the same, and the jiari 2.0 I got from Jeff, while playing slightly flatter than the wood flutes, is still pretty sharp if I lip it up as much as I have to lip up the 1.8. So that would be 3 out of 4 lemons. And although they are in various states of disrepair that make it so I wouldn't consider them "known good" flutes, two other jiari I have also play close to A=440 without any struggle on my part. 

chikuzen wrote:

radiOgnome wrote:

better instruments are designed to be played with a lot of kari so that meri's can be reached easier

.      No. There's kari and dai kari.

Thanks Chikuzen, I wasn't aware of that. Since I've recently started practicing getting pitches up with this new flute I'll be sure to experiment with what extremes I can get to. Just with the 4 days of practice I've had with this flute I've noticed I have quite a bit better command over my playing.

I'm really going to have to get to a teacher with this though, and a live teacher so he or she can try out the flutes to better answer my questions. I'll probably get with Perry, I understand he's teaching some now. And besides, he's the one who started this mess by getting me into playing in the first place smile


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#48 2009-03-27 14:34:15

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 402
Website

Re: Playing flat

Good. You and Perry can remind each other to get your chins up!


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#49 2009-03-27 22:19:21

Yungflutes
Flutemaker/Performer
From: New York City
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 1061
Website

Re: Playing flat

Hai Wakarimasu smile!


"A hot dog is not an animal." - Jet Yung

My Blog/Website on the art of shakuhachi...and parenting.
How to make an Urban Shakuhachi (PVC)

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#50 2009-03-27 23:05:58

Lance
Member
Registered: 2008-01-18
Posts: 74

Re: Playing flat

I know nothing of all this, so I have nothing to add. But I do have a funny hat, perhaps I'll post a picture one day. I also have a few Shakuhachi and occassionally move my chin this way or that.

P.S. I feel a certain freedom in this vast lack of knowledge... I like to think of it as a certain Zen nature, rather than describing this as being lazy.


“The firefly is a good lesson in light, and darkness”

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