Gunnar Jinmei Linder, 尺八(Shakuhachi) - Japanese bamboo flute

CD Taki-otoshi

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Liner Notes

Taki-otoshi no Kyoku (tracks 1 and 4)


On this CD I have recorded the same piece as a Kinko-ryū honkyoku (track 4), and a renkan duo together with Tanaka Kōmei (track 1). Tanaka-sensei is my dai-senpai, who has supported and helped me vastly in my studies of the shakuhachi.

The name of the piece is sometimes read taki-ochi instead of taki-otoshi. The word taki means waterfall. The word otoshi is a noun formed from the verb otosu, to drop something. The word ochi is a noun formed from the verb ochiru, to fall. Thus, it is a difference in terms of volition. The verb otosu is a transitive verb that needs an agent: someone is ‘dropping’ the waterfall. The verb ochiru is an intransitive verb that does not need any agent: the waterfall is falling, all by itself.

The piece naturally divides in three sections, followed by a short epilogue. The three main sections are similar, with small variations on the same or similar patterns, except for the central part of the middle section. The first and third of the main sections are mainly in the low register, and the middle section in the high register. When played as a renkan duo, however, the two players double in the high and low registers, so this difference is not so clear.

I think there are many possible interpretations of this piece. The interpretation may differ with the title (whether it is taki-otoshi or taki-ochi). The pieces supposedly depicts the Asahi Waterfall in Izu, and the sections of the piece can be interpreted as three (with the epilogue four) phases of the waterfall: before – in – after – (and then moving on). On the other hand it could be three aspects or views of the same waterfall, or the waterfall seen in the four seasons, corresponding to the four sections: winter – spring – summer – autumn. If we go beyond the actual waterfall that the piece supposedly depicts, we could interpreted the piece as three similar but different waterfalls. I want to think that there are many possible interpretations.

Hi-fu-mi Hachi-gaeshi no Shirabe (track 2)


This is a piece that most students of the shakuhachi come across early in their training. I prefer to begin with this piece in my teaching of honkyoku.
Actually, it consists of what was originally two separate pieces, and one late nineteenth century addition.
"Hi-fu-mi no Shirabe" is the beginning and end of the piece, played in the low register.
"Hachi-gaeshi" is the part in the high register in the middle.
The addition comes after the "Hachi-gaeshi" part. It was composed by the komusō Araki Kodō II (1823–1908).

Kumoi-jishi (track 3)


This piece is normally regarded as an outer piece in the Kinko-ryū honkyoku, and not counted among the central thirty-six pieces. Probably it was included in the honkyoku repertoire from some local song. The suffix jishi, which is a sound change from shishi, meaning a lion dragon. In Japan, however, in some areas the shishi refers to deer rather than a dragon. The name of the piece, Kumoi, means literary "Cloud-well".
Some people say it depicts a lion dragon waking up from its sleep in the clouds, and then beginning to dance in the sky.
There was a big-horned deer in ancient times in Japan, the ōtsuno-jika, and I think it works perfectly well to interpret the piece in terms of this deer, walking majestically in the mountains.

In this recording, Tanaka Kōmei plays a second part on a longer shakuhachi (2 shaku), tuned in C, and I play the main line on my standard shakuhachi (1 shaku 8 sun), tuned in D.

Shika no Tōne (track 5)


This is probably one of the most well-known pieces for shakuhachi. It depicts two deer (shika) in the mountains, calling out to each other (tō-ne, a far cry). It is played as a duo, in a fuki-awase fashion. This means that there is not a second part played simultaneously as in the renkan duos of tracks 1 and 3, but rather a kind of dialogue where the same phrases are repeated.
Towards the end of the piece, the phrases get increasingly overlapping, depicting that the deer are drawing closer.

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