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 ·

Lesson #32 with Chikuzen

More Horai today. Michael walked me through it again, and considering that I lack practice, it was pretty good.

Working on higher air speed appears to be key at this juncture. I already know what to do from previous lessons, reinforced in this lesson, so I just need to practice.

After working through Horai, Michael introduced me to the start of Hifumi Hachigaeshi. The piece appears to involve an interesting technique called スリ whereby a note is played with a variation in that one’s finger would hover over the repeat hole shortly before completing the note. By playing the previous note in the same pitch because it is one before in the basic note progression but played in 大メリ, there is a kind of a curious sound bending effect.

25 June 2014 ·

Lesson #31 with Chikuzen

I shied away from Kurokami today. Instead, Michael introduced me to Horai, a honkyoku piece, good for practice of note shaping.

Speaking of note shaping, Michael demonstrated how I should be mindful of the sound in the flute:

  • for kari notes, the sound should escape from the flute: a strong sound that has a full effect that depends very much on the environment, e.g., echo from the walls.
  • for meri notes, the sound should emanate from the middle of the flute: a generally softer sound that is not very much affected by the environment.
  • for dai meri notes, the sound stays near the top of the flute.

My next lesson shall be on 17 June!

4 June 2014 ·

Danso, a Korean flute with mystical sounds

2 June 2014 ·

Kurokami played on koto and shakuhachi

Debbie McCullough play koto and sings kurokami, while Yoichi Usui plays shakuhachi at the Art Gallery opening of a Kimono Show in Rochester, NY.

25 May 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.