July 4, 2017 – Pardon the dust! I am in the process of integrating much of the content from the old, antiquated, HTML shakuhachi pages into the main website. You will likely see some oddities for a week or so.
The shakuhachi is a Japanese, end-blown, bamboo flute, and probably originated in Egypt, through China a thousand or more years ago. It is now all over the world, and ranks as one of the most difficult instruments to play (over 2-1/2 octaves with only 5 holes… 4 front, 1 back). It is not uncommon to spend 5 or more years on the instrument and still not know if your specific shakuhachi is capable of progressing along with you. It has a tremendous history, including being the primary instrument (and occasional “weapon”) of wandering Komuso Priests / former Samurai. The full history is vast, diverse, and complex, and there is a wealth of info out there about this incredible instrument.
The Sound: Warm and woody, sweet and pure, subtle, dynamic, mesmerizing, powerful, and everything in-between. It is a tone that can transcend the player holding it, and those hearing it.
On the exterior, you hold an extremely organic, random growth of highly unique bamboo, which spoke to the maker on how its “afterlife” was to be formed, through meticulous shaping, sanding and other adornments. The interior is a maze of beauty, and extreme humility… the predominance of the many months/years it takes to make a fine instrument goes into the profile and very fine adjustments to the inner bore, the heart of the shakuhachi, finessing the polished layers of urushi lacquer (made from poison sumac, as if shakuhachi making wasn’t hard enough, already) at many critical points throughout. What works for one may, very likely, not work on another… each is unique and requires its own approach to achieve the desired tone, response and technical requirements, just to scratch the surface. Even the most seasoned makers have “the shelf” full of problem flutes that, one day, will be put back on the bench for further contemplation–to become a fine instrument, or go right back on the shelf.