Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Balancing Shakuhachi

I've been rehearsing for a new La MaMa E.T.C. show the last two weeks and things are moving fast as usual. The show is Asclepeus, the Greek God of medicine. I play his father, Apollo. The cast is more than a cast. It is the Great Jones Repertory Group, some of the most daring actors, dancers and singers I know. I'm so happy to be working with them again. Here we are in the famous Annex theater in the East Village.

Although I'm in theater heaven, I've also been feeling a little schizophrenic with the shakuhachi. When the rehearsals first started, I was swept with a wave of frenetic energy that interrupted the solitude of working with bamboo. But, I think I found a great balance this week. I've been rehearsing for the Hot Peas and Butter show at the Tribeca Film Festival's Family Outdoor Festival and teaching more than I expected. For those in NYC who may want to hear some Latin pop Bamboo soul, come by Tribeca May 2nd 4pm - Main Stage on Greenwhich and North Moore streets.

Not sure if I can slip the shakuhachi into Asclepeus, but we'll see...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Here is today's Student level Wooden Japanese made 1.8 length shakuhachi.

I enjoy collecting these and fine tuning them so that they operate at a higher level in response and tone production. As a maker, it's interesting for me to see how I can improve them with simple adjustments, usually by undercutting the tone holes. Once they leave my shop, they produce a wider range of tone color, much closer to the dynamic qualities of a fine bamboo shakuhachi. It comes apart in the middle in two-pieces, just like the modern two-piece bamboo instrument.

When these wooden flutes were first made in Japan, the manufacturers hired professional musicians to fine tune them before they left the factory. These days, non shakuhachi players are employed to do the finishing work, resulting in flutes with less dynamic range. This one now plays like a fine hand tuned instrument.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions what so ever.
Have a great day! Perry

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tairaku is in the House!

Tairaku is in the house! Got a visit yesterday from Brian Tairaku Ritchie. Here he is trying a 1.2. Shorter flutes are more difficult to play in tune and usually requires the player to know the flute well as the "window" for blowing is smaller. I think Tairaku did a great job having just pick up this shorty for the first time. I ran out of memory on the video card just when Brian started to cook! Gotta get a 1GB card soon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Shakuhachi and Theater

As Oedipus in Ellen Stewart's Oedipus the King

Many around the globe know me as a Shakuhachi craftsman and performer but my first profession is in the theater. In the past 5 years, since my children were bore, I've had to focus on the shakuhachi work (not that I am complaining!) because that allowed me to work at home and be involved with child raring. Working in the theater means a lot of time spent on rehearsals, performance runs and touring. My partner and I decided it would be more beneficial to focus on shakuhachi for a while. But, now that she has an embarked on her academic career and the kids are a little older, I can go back to the theater. I am so excited to start rehearsals tonight with Ellen Stewart's new La MaMa theater production.

Because it's difficult for me to separate the two these days, I will try to make the shakuhachi a part of the performance. Let's see where I can sneak it in :)

New flute production will slow down but the commissions and repairs will still go on. As always, your instruments are a extremely important to me and they will continue to be worked on with mindfulness and finished in a timely fashion.

More to come....

Friday, April 3, 2009

Honshu Red Urushi in the Shakuhachi Bore

I was playing the Kazan with the high blowing edge for about 10 minutes today marveling in it's wonderful response. Adjusting the depth always requires focus and serious choice making as a milimeter will affect the tone color and playability to some degree. Those with little experience may not notice a difference but experienced players can notice a huge difference in feel and sound from a 1mm difference.

When I first saw this Hanko - Kazan - Flower Mountain, I recognized it immediately. I also recalled that a fellow shakuhachi blogger over at A Shakuhachi Journey happens to own a Kazan. So I did some detective work to see if I can get a reference picture for the depth on her Kazan.

Thanks to Erin, I got the shot! And as I started to remove, the instrument became more and more responsive and with a wider dynamic range on tone color and volume. I always feel so lucky that I can be a part of this process - helping a flute find it's original voice.

I could have played this flute all day but I had to go pick up Jet from Day Care so I deferred to Erin's photo's. I had 20 minutes to apply some Honshu Red Urushi, the original color. Honshu Red is an amazing deep red that's quite beautiful. It also takes longer to cure. It's going to sit out for 12 hours and then will go into my humid box for a about a week or more.
Check back then for a sound file.
Namaste, Perry

Thursday, April 2, 2009

New Inlay on Kazan Shakuhachi

Hi all,
Today's repair (among 3 others and a plastic horse) is a Kazan that needs a new Utaguchi inlay.

I've seen some Kazan flutes before and know that the maker likes to use Ivory.

The back of the utaguchi. You can get an idea of the craftsmanship of Japanese made flutes.

A proper fitting can be extremely tedious and time consuming.

I've been doing inlays for over 13 I'm not as slow as I was in 1996!

After the cut and careful filing so as not to change the angle of the front facet. It works fine as is, but I need to play it thoroughly to make some critical decisions on how much to lower it.

Stay tuned :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Shakuhachi at Brooklyn Center for the ARTS.

Next Sunday , April 5th, is the second show with Hot Peas and Butter. I am so excited to play with them again. They are such a great group and last Saturday's show was a smash. Ok, So I'm only playing on one song, but here's an opportunity to introduce the Zen flute to a lot of people.

Here's the space at the Brooklyn Center for the Arts.

I hear the show is almost sold out. It's a good thing I don't get nervous anymore :)

Namaste, Perry