Lesson #35 with Chikuzen

A week of delay, but all went well! This lesson was still on Hifumi Hachigaeshi, but this time from lines 10 to 13.

The bulk of the lesson involved the チルツル technique introduced in line 10. In this simple form, the technique is used to play the sequence チメリ、チ大メリ、チメリ、ル、ツル. This meant playing チメリ a little differently: cover holes #4 and #5, shade hole #1. The idea is to keep hole #3 free to bounce in what is called ツル, in order to repeat ル. To play チ大メリ, I also shade holes #2 and #3, then from チ to ル I can just close hole #2 in addition to the fingering for チ. Michael told me that this technique was invented by Watazumi.

My next lesson will be on 16 September!

2 September 2014 ·

Kiku Day hulahooping while playing shakuhachi with a tengai on

Kiku Day:

This is what happens when 4 ethnomusicologists from SOAS are visiting (David Hughes, ShzrEe Tan, Hwee-San Tan, Ruard Absaroka). They were the ones saying: “Can you hulahoop with the tengai on?” And since I could… then “Can you play the shakuhachi as well?”

31 August 2014 ·

Geijutsu Forever


Hello everyone in tumblrland! Just inviting you to my brand spanking new forum project: Geijutsu Forever — a place for people to discuss, learn, and fan girl about various traditional Japanese arts; kimono and geimaiko included, of course. (“geijutsu” means “the arts”)

I’m a huge fan of kabuki and Noh, Japanese crafts and artwork, history, folklore, literature — and it is SO hard for me to find people who are as interested as I am :/ it’s not just an academic thing… This stuff is like my Harry Potter lol. Even if you know absolutely nothing, interest counts for everything, so think about it?

I literally set this up last night, so yes it is completely empty. Please consider joining and helping me make this into something great n_n I was prompted by the announcement that Immortal Geisha forums will be closing and becoming a read-only source. They’re moving to facebook, but for privacy reasons and general hatred of fb lol, I won’t be joining :( 

I prefer a forum setting anyway, and I have one thread up right now asking anyone for their site suggestions. Let’s keep the geijutsu community alive!

Reblogging because this new message board community includes traditional Japanese music in its scope.

15 August 2014 ·

Lesson #34 with Chikuzen

Sorry, I have been silent for longer than anticipated. Firstly, I rescheduled my lesson to 5 August. Unfortunately, Michael forgot to note it down in his calendar, and with it being a busy month, we ended up missing the lesson on 5 August. Still, it was postponed to today, so all’s well that ends well.

The lesson was a rehash of Hifumi Hachigaeshi, up to the 9th line/column in the score. There were so many details that I will have to refer to the video recording to recall them!

One detail does stand out: instead of the usual fingering for ハ on the 3rd line, i.e., holes #1 and #3 closed, the rest shaded, Michael offered the option of leaving hole #3 open, with hole #5 shaded and the rest closed. With this fingering, an ornamentation technique becomes possible when transitioning to ツめり.

My next lesson will be on 26 August, if the wind blow true! :)

13 August 2014 ·

Lesson #33 with Chikuzen

Tuesday’s lesson was on Hifumi Hachigaeshi. We covered the first eight lines of the score that Michael gave me.

The “backstory” of this piece is that “hifumi” is an archaic way of saying “one two three”, hence I was confused by the “一二三” in the title and section title. It turns out that the piece may have been two separate pieces originally, though now it is treated as a single piece. The “hifumi” refers to the piece being elementary, while the “hachi” refers to the begging bowl of komuso monks, with “gaeshi” referring to how they would place the bowl when or after begging.

A few things to take note of:

  • When a nayashi appears at the start of a phrase, I should start playing from the meri to kari (or “less meri”) instead of doing the kari-meri-kari modulation.
  • Several of the phrases end with what looks like a < symbol (not to be confused with the repeat symbol, which looks like a > symbol, or レ), though this was omitted in some places. This indicates that the note is to be held for as long as possible, and then just before one runs out of breath, a modulation is performed (by nodding the head as in a normal nayashi).
  • The スリ technique seems to be very much about getting that “note bending effect” by gradually gliding one’s finger over the repeat hole for the previous note, not so much hovering over it as I described in my previous lesson’s notes.

Okay, there are more things to take note of than just these, but I have to review my video recording… which I forgot to start until towards the end of the lesson.

Oh well. My next lesson will be on 29 July!

17 July 2014 ·

Handmade vegetable musical instruments

5 July 2014 ·

Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto/koto and Kaoru Kakizakai/shakuhachi play Haru no Umi

Nothing to do with the current pieces that I am learning, but my attention was drawn to this performance via the Hidden Legacy: Japanese Performing Arts in WW II Internment Camps Facebook group.

26 June 2014 ·


I am a novice shakuhachi player from Singapore. These are some notes of my journey with this Japanese end-blown flute that is traditionally made of bamboo.