Panel 8 - Workshop - The Tone-color Melodies of the Japanese Shakuhachi - Bruno Deschênes, Independent researcher
11:30 AM, Sunday 26 May 2019 (2 hours)
Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) - DS-1525
[ CHAIR: Bruno Deschênes, Independent Researcher ]
The solo pieces for shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute originally played by the monks of a Zen Buddhist sect during Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868), are considered by today’s Japanese shakuhachi masters to be tone-colour melodies, not melodies of tones. These monks considered this flute a spiritual tool, not a musical instrument. The music they composed has no common measure with folk music or the music of the entertainment world of the Edo period with clearly defined melodic lines. This presentation will show how the phrases and the tones of the solo pieces for shakuhachi composed by these monks are based on tone-colours, not on pitch or notes. Examples will be performed on the shakuhachi, while their notated versions will be projected on a screen, both in Japanese and Western notations. The traditional notation for shakuhachi uses Japanese characters (from the katakana syllabary); they do not refer to pitches but to fingerings. Some tones can then be produced with different fingerings or with head movements, thus allowing to produce them with distinctive tone-colours. Particular stylistic characteristics of the playing of the shakuhachi that make extensive use of tone-colors will be presented. I will end by performing a short piece on the shakuhachi.