Public places in the crowded streets of Shinjuku in Tokyo are usually filled with movement, talking and the sounds emanating from shops. Whilst walking through West Shinjuku, I was minding my business walking to my destination. I stopped when I saw a sea of people standing outside Yodabashi camera. There...>>
In this recording I am playing a piece called Tamuke (hands folded together in prayer) with my teacher. In a shakuhachi lesson, a student plays the piece they are currently learning to their teacher and then they play this piece together. By listening and watching my teacher I learn how I should play this piece and the technical aspects related to fingering and tonal colour. Listening carefully you can hear that I am following slightly behind my teacher, trying to imitate the sounds and tempo of his playing.
Occasionally you hear movement in the background. They are the sounds of other students in the room who are observing the lesson. Watching other students take a lesson is an important part of learning the instrument. As a student, it gives you the opportunity to watch your teacher more closely, how they are playing a piece, how they hold the flute, their embouchure and so on. It is possible also to learn from the mistakes and steps made by another student. Tamuke refers to holding ones hands together in prayer and is a requiem piece for the departed souls of loved ones. It is a piece from the Honkyoku (original pieces) repertoire of the Komosu monks of the Edo period in Japan.
Text and recording by Richard Chenhall