Sunday, March 14, 2010

First Try with a PVC Shakuhachi

So creating my first shakuhachi with PVC was quite the experience.  I went out into the garage while the wife and kid were napping, opened the garage door slightly and got to work.

I somehow measured twice, cut once, and still messed up the length on my first one.  It came out another 15cm or so longer than a 1.8.  The utaguchi was cut way too steeply, but with the hacksaw I had, and cutting at that angle, there was nothing I could do after I started. The cut was made from the top face instead of the side.  Too much of the utaguchi was gone after I had made the cut, so there was no saving it.  I just sanded it to see if it would play.

The first shakuhachi makes tone, but only when my lips are right on top of the utaguchi.  The tone is breathy, but I'm sure most of it is because of my complete inexperience with this specific embouchure. The scale it plays isn't even close to a pentatonic anything, as the lowest three notes are a single step from each other.  I'm sure I'm paying for the incorrect measurement in length.

Here are a few pictures of the first attempt.
oblique angle:
try 1 - oblique
side shot:
try 1 - side
end angle:
try 1 - top

On the second attempt, I put more emphasis on getting the angle of the utaguchi right. I drew a tangent across the top face before cutting, then figured out where the cut should terminate at the bottom of the utaguchi. This time I cut from the side and it came out much better.

try 2 - face

I don't believe that I took enough off of the face, however, because the width of the opening seems small in comparison to the width of the instrument.

This one also necessitates my putting my lips way down near the utaguchi in order to produce a tone, but not quite as far. I plan on taking more off of the face today in order to open up the opening. I am also going to pare down the reverse face a little bit to soften up the feel on my chin.

side shot 1
try 2 - side
top pic
try 2 - top
utaguchi pic 1
try 2 - diff angle
side pic 2
try 2 - side 2
oblique angle
full length

Feel free to comment and give any feedback.  I'm posting my efforts here, which I'm sure most of my visitors will come from.  Any and all constructive criticism is welcome, because I only have internet resources to work with.  That said, I'll probably take a look around Barnes & Noble today for any books I can find on the subject.  Thanks for checking it out!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Purchasing PVC Supplies

So I'm starting my first PVC Shakuhachi...

I have wanted to give it a shot, just to be able to blow something before I order my real flute from Perry Yung.  I saw his post on Mujitsu and Tairaku's Shakuhachi BBQ and couldn't resist, really.  I purchased all the supplies for literally $20.  I purchased a nice file/rasp set from Xacto, but I'm not counting that $25 in the price, as I needed them anyway.

This weekend I plan on making my first shakuhachi.  No idea how I am going to get the angle of the utaguchi correct, but I can probably figure it out.  I have a hacksaw, but may invest in a wider blade so my angle doesn't go askew.

I've picked up quite a bit of info just checking out Perry Yung's site and youtube videos.  I can't wait to make this shakuhachi this weekend and play it (or attempt to).  I'll record my very first time touching and playing a shakuhachi to see if I'm the natural my wife believes I am.  Sure, I've played the Western Standard flute for forever, but this is a different ball of wax. In a few weeks when I order my flute from Perry, I also plan on recording my first few moments with his flute, such as opening the packaging and playing it for the first time.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shakuhachi skill duly noted

When seeing a true master of any form of art at work, almost anyone who takes the time to stop, listen and watch can appreciate the artisan at the highest level.  Even the layperson who has had little exposure to the medium at hand can become entranced by the unbelievable amount of skill displayed.

After spending a few days at Mujitsu and Tairaku's Shakuhachi BBQ, a forum I found recently, I asked for a "required listening" list of Shakuhachi recordings.  Who better to offer up a top-notch list than a fine group of players, teachers and masters?  Well, I didn't have to run far down the list to realize that these recordings were going to hold my attention for hours. Take the first youtube video from Chris Moran for example: this soulful and breathtaking performance by the late Yamaguchi Goro simply blew me away.

His embouchure and air control is phenomenal.  Listening to how far he can bend the pitch and how easily he moves between the registers is astounding.  This is the type of skill I would aspire to.  Having a small portion of this man's talent on the shakuhachi would satisfy most any person.  Take a listen to the recording, then head over to the post on the forum where Chris pointed out a lot of great shakuhachi recordings.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Humble Beginnings

First and foremost, this is a journey of mine that I have wished to take for quite a while. This blog will follow my journey to become a student of the Japanese Flute, the Shakuhachi.

What I strive to do is put my experiences here so that others can follow and learn with me. I have already stumbled upon quite a few Shakuhachi resources on the web, and will link and share those here as well. This way, hopefully others can benefit from my journey.

I also crave feedback, as we are all social creatures by design. There will undoubtedly be mistakes made in my journey, and I will want to discuss those with others who have traveled looking for knowledge in the musical world of the Shakuhachi.

Peace and Light to you. Thank you so much for reading this blog.