Volume 5- KUMOI

1. Garyoken Takeshirabe
2. Chikugo Sashi
3. Neri Sashi
4. Takane Sashi
5. Uta Renbo
6. Koro Sugagaki
7. Yamato Choshi
8. Takane Takeshirabe
9. Azuma no Kyoku
10.Shimotsuke no Kyoku
11. Futaiken Reibo

Notes on Kumoi

Kumoi is the fifth CD in the current series by Tokuyama Takashi. The previous four are Vol. 1—Hi Kyoku, Vol. 2—Korei, Vol. 3—Shumi and Vol. 4—Michi. The calligraphy in the first four titles was taken from Zen Master Ikkyu (1394-1481). Ikkyu was known as “Crazy Cloud”. He wrote several poems in praise of the Shakuhachi whose raw simplicity takes both the player and listener directly to the source.
The word “kumoi” itself has several meanings:
1. Sky or the place where clouds exist.
2. Clouds.
3. A distant scene where clouds appear or a place with high sky and a wide panorama.
4. Imperial territory.
The calligraphy on the cover of this CD is by Tanahashi Kazuaki, a famous brush teacher and Zen scholar who is very fond of Shakuhachi.

I recorded this volume during an all-night session in 1987 at a cottage near Atami. This cottage is located close to one of the most famous spas in Shizuoka Prefecture. On my way to the cottage from Tokyo, I kept playing many flutes, including Jinasikan, in the car as a rehearsal. We were expecting rain, and I knew I would have no time to warm-up. Of course, soon after we started, the rain began, and its sound was being recorded, so we had to wait until it stopped. We were running out of time, and if it did not stop soon, we would lose our chance to record. But the rain finally abated and we succeeded in recording more than five hours of Shakuhachi Honkyoku. Originally, I intended to make two volumes from this session. Some of the pieces that are not included in Kumoi, will appear in upcoming volumes. Kumoi was recorded on a classical-sized Shakuhachi (1.8’). By listening to this recording, I hope you can grasp the great variations in Honkyoku music.

1. Garyoken Takeshirabe (5:28)

Garyouken comes from the Komusodera (Fuke temple) at Yamagata Prefecture. This piece requires the player to use a slight shake of the chin and has some extended phrasing.

2. Chikugo Sashi (5:14)

Chikugo Sashi comes from the Fuke temple Rinsei-ken, located in Kurume City, Fukuoka Prefecture, in the southern island of Kyushu. Sashi is a name often used for Honkyoku pieces. (Other popular Honkyoku names are Sugagaki, Reibo and Sanya). Chikugo Sashi is one of several Sashi pieces: Neri Sashi, Takane Sashi, Ifu Sashi, etc. The most prominent technique used in a Sashi piece is the chin shake. These shakes are sometimes rougher and harder (and wilder) then typical Kyushu pieces. The characters for Chikugo Sashi are the same as the famous piece Ajikan (included on Vol. 2—Korei) which originally was called Shinsiti Sashi.

3. Neri Sashi (3:22)

The Fuke temple Kokoku-ji preserved this piece. Neri means “walk through” and, as the name denotes, this piece is played while walking. Although this is a short piece, a Takane part exists. Takane means higher tone and, in general, comes in the later half of a piece. The melody of the Takane part resembles that of Sanya (included on Vol. 1—Hi Kyoku) and is characteristic of this type of Honkyoku melody.

4. Takane Sashi (5:03)

Although Takane means “higher tone”, this Honkyoku has a good balance of both high and low octaves. It may have originated from Icchohken, Hakata Prefecture, Kyushu, where many of the Sashi melodies came from.

5. Uta Renbo (3:12)

Originally called Reibo no Kyoku, this piece was arranged into Iyo Renbo (included on Vol 1—Hi Kyoku). Iyo Renbo sounds like a Kinko-ryu piece (a later school of shakuhachi) in certain of its rhythmic patterns, but this version of Uta Renbo sounds older because of its melody (scale) structure. My guess is that Uta Renbo comes from another genre of music like Minyo (traditional folk songs).

6. Koro Sugagaki (6:38)

The oldest Honkyoku tradition comes from Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture. Eleven pieces come from there including this version of Koro Sugagaki. This music was taken to Kyoto (the old Japanese capital) and added to the Kyoto Meian-ji repertoire, which then increased to thirty two pieces.
There are two theories which try to explain the existence of this piece. Some say it comes from Hitoyogiri music (a smaller flute and predecessor of the modern Shakuhachi) which uses a fingering technique called “Koro Koro” (quickly moving two fingers one by one). The other idea ties it to a Samurai named Koro who disguised himself as a Komuso (Zen Shakuhachi monk).

7. Yamato Choshi (3:00)

A famous Komuso, named Kyochiku Tani, was taught this piece by Seno Murata. After practicing for several years, Tani performed it in front of his teacher, but Murata claimed that he never taught this piece to Tani. This greatly disappointed the student. Tani discussed this with another player, Uramoto, who was a medical doctor and also President of the Japan Folksong Society. They decided to call it Yamato Choshi, named after the Yamato district in Nara Prefecture. Uramoto wrote two variations of this Honkyoku; the first one is formal and the other used by mendicant Komuso monks when begging for alms.

8. Takane Take Shirabe (3:08)

This piece comes from the Meian Shinpo-ryu repertoire. It mainly consists of higher octave notes. Although it is a relatively short piece, it has a nice feeling and contains some unique melodies.

9. Azuma no Kyokyu (5:11)

The Azuma in this title means that the composition comes from Fukushima Prefecture. But, as with many Honkyoku pieces, there are several different ideas on its origin. The first is that it originated from folk music to celebrate Japanese gods. The second is that it comes from Hitoyogiri music, similar to Koro Sugagaki. And, finally, from animal dancing folk music, Sisimai’s flute music.
This piece is not melancholic, but rather has a simple melodic sound similar to Kumoi Jishi (Vol. 3—Shumi). When we use a slower beat and reconstruct it into a minor scale, these two pieces (Azuma and Kumoi Jishi) resemble the more modern Honkyoku of the Kinko school.

10. Shimotsuke no Kyoku (6:11)

This piece comes from the area around Tochigi Prefecture, a little bit closer to Tokyo than Azuma no Kyoku. Its melody is very beautiful, but not typical of traditional Shakuhachi music. It seems to have been composed or arranged much later. For this reason, most modern people find it easier to listen to and understand.

11. Futaiken Reibo (12:28)

This one of the longest and most difficult pieces to play of the Shakuhachi Honkyoku repertoire.
The Fuke-Zen temple, Futaiken, was located near Sendai, one of the largest cities in northern Japan. This temple was once situated in downtown Sendai. Its founder, Basho (not to be confused with the Haiku master Matsuo Basho), was given some of the best land in the middle of Sendai which he received this for loyal service (including spying). But Basho didn’t stay there long and moved the temple to the suburb of Sendai where he spent the remainder of his days.
There are two main pieces with the name Futaiken, Sanya and Reibo. Reibo means “longing” as in “longing for the bell” of Fuke-Zenji. This Honkyoku consists of three parts. The first is Takeshirabe which means “tuning” or “warm-up”. The second is the main part. And the last is Hachigaeshi. Hachigaechi means “returning” as in returning the bowl or tray to the giver of alms.

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