About the shakuhachi flute

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Cespaw
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 7:20 am

About the shakuhachi flute

Post by Cespaw »

First of all I would like to say hello everyone! I´ve been interested in playing the flute for some time now, ever since I heard Dj Krush´s "Jaku" album, but I´m originally a piano player since the age of 8. I´m going to Australia in about 6 months, and can´t bring my piano with me, so I figured I might aswell take the time to learn a new instrument. I don´t care how hard it is, I really want to learn to play it. There is just so much emotion and dynamics you can put into it, or well, atleast that´s what I´ve heard.
I´ve been searching the web for some answers about the japanese shakuhachi flute, but can´t get my head around it. I figured that I might find some answers here, since it is a flute-forum after all :D

So here are my questions:
What kind of flute is a good beginner flute? I heard that it is good to begin with a wooden one, but some places tell otherwise.
Can you play any scale on a shakuhachi flute? I would really like to play other scales than just penthatonic D (nothing wrong with that though :lol: )
Do you have any directions to an international shop, or some place that you can recommend? I live in Norway at the moment.

I would really appreciate some answers, since I´m really eager to start learning.

Kind regards, Cesar

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Phineas
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Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 1:08 am

Re: About the shakuhachi flute

Post by Phineas »

Before I do a lot of typing, check this link out.

http://www.eriktheflutemaker.com/

Phineas

Jon Palombi
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Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:56 pm
Location: Stowe, Vermont

Re: About the shakuhachi flute

Post by Jon Palombi »

Cespaw wrote:I´ve been searching the web for some answers about the japanese shakuhachi flute, but can´t get my head around it. I figured that I might find some answers here, since it is a flute-forum after all :D
Hi Cespaw,

You may have learned a great deal in the month since you uploaded this thread? So, I hope I'm being redundant here. I've played the silver concert flute for 34 years now (and piccolo, D-flute, alto, bass) and an assortment of Indian bansuri for 32 years. While I had admired the enigmatic tone of the Japanese shakuhachi for decades, I began to play them just last summer. The embouchure is a challenge for most transverse flutists but with some careful adjustments, it is a remarkably sensitive flute embouchure.

Frankly, next to the Egyptian Ney flute, also a vertical bamboo flute, it's the most difficult embouchure to develop. That being said, it is the most rewarding bamboo flute in the world (IMO).

As far as wrapping your head around the shakuhachi... it's somewhat relative to whether or not you are taking formal lessons. I am not myself... but some day, for sure. It is the quintessential Zen flute, so improvisation is my current approach.

Once you shift your musical sensibilities to the pentatonic scale, it's easier to understand the dynamics. I suggest spending some time listening to the Masters of this art. I am an ear player, so I improvise and imitate, to the best of my abilities.

Do check out these websites, if you haven't already. These two a wealth of shakuhachi-related information: http://www.shakuhachiforum.eu/index.php And the older, now archived, Shakuhachi Forum: http://shakuhachiforum.com/
So here are my questions:
What kind of flute is a good beginner flute? I heard that it is good to begin with a wooden one, but some places tell otherwise.
A good wooden shakuhachi is better than a mediocre bamboo shakuhachi. They are tougher and not prone to cracking, as is bamboo.
but honestly, part of the magic is in the sound of the bamboo and nothing else really compares to madake bamboo.
Can you play any scale on a shakuhachi flute? I would really like to play other scales than just penthatonic D (nothing wrong with that though :lol: )
Sure, remember that when you feel limited by only the five notes, you can expand your range by half-holing. Also, only the classic 1.8 shakuhachi flute is pitched in the key of D. The variety of lengths, changes the key the scales play within. Just as with Indian bansuri flutes or Chinese dizi flutes.

For example, a 1.2 shaku flute is within the scale of G, 1.5 shaku is in F, 1.7 shaku is in E, 2.0 shaku is in C, 2.2 is in B, 2.4 is in A and 2.7 is in G, 3.0 is in E. Most folks can't handle them longer than 3.0. A shaku is approximately one foot in length (just shy).
Do you have any directions to an international shop, or some place that you can recommend? I live in Norway at the moment.

I would really appreciate some answers, since I´m really eager to start learning.
With shipping costs as ridiculous they are... you might want to buy from a European maker? Still, some of the best makers outside of Japan, are in the USA. Perry Yung is one of the very finest. He sells on eBay and has his own website, too. http://www.ebay.com/sch/yungflutes/m.ht ... ksid=p3984

Ken LaCosse and Jon Kypros are also wonderful makers. I have several of their flutes. I'm less experienced with European makers, though. 8)

Another maker I have bought several shakuhachi from it Steve Shepard. His flutes are actually under-priced, for their degree of quality! So, I feel he is the best bang for your shakuhachi buck, out there. http://www.ebay.com/sch/sizzorfite_stud ... ksid=p3984

Take care, Jon

P.S. My bamboo & wooden flute collection and please forgive the poor quality photos: http://myflutecollection.blogspot.com/

P.S.S. Eric the flute maker is a very cool guy and a talented maker but... his expertise is outside of the realm of crafting authentic Japanese-style shakuhachi. The first requirement is with the proper genus and species of bamboo. Traditionally, they are crafted in Madake bamboo, either Chinese or preferably, if one can afford it, Japanese madake. And for the record, Erik makes some of the nicest bamboo flutes I've played. He's quite an artist.

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Bo
Posts: 389
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:40 pm
Location: Down Under

Re: About the shakuhachi flute

Post by Bo »

Good advice here. I certainly want to buy one myself sooner or later. :)

Gordon Shumway
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:41 am
Location: london, england

Re: About the shakuhachi flute

Post by Gordon Shumway »

Since there are some links above, which I haven't looked at yet, I thought I'd bump this thread rather than start another.
You can get a plastic 1.8' "shakuhachi yuu", but it's not a lot cheaper than a bamboo one, which is a pity.
I would like a 2.4' one (failing that, just use an alto flute), and I've found an Amazon link.
Here it is, if the mods allow Amazon links.

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