Reviews of
KODEN & KOTEN HONKYOKU
Chikuzen Shakuhachi Series Sheet Music & CDs

When I first saw Monty's note about the availability of the Taniguchi stuff, I thought, "I've already got more sheet music than I'll learn in this lifetime, so I'll pass." Then curiosity got the better of me, and I took a look at the website and saw Kumoijishi. I grabbed a copy of the image and enlarged it to 7x9.5 and printed it out so I could play it. I've been playing Kumoijishi for a few years and have one version mostly memorized, so I didn't need another. I just thought I'd see what Taniguchi's idea of the piece was.

By the time I got through playing it, I realized why it would be nice to have the notation. Like many shakuhachi masters (probably *all* masters), Taniguchi has his own ideas about how the piece goes, and his notation reflects those ideas. By playing from his notation I would get another take on the piece, and I picked up a couple of ideas for various passages that I preferred to the ways I had learned.

The notion that I would get new insights from his notation, coupled with the extremely reasonable price (32 pieces (by my count) for $45, making this the least expensive notation I've ever bought) sold me on the book. Peter Hill, who visited me in San Diego last month, told me that Taniguchi was an incredible player and teacher and I'd already planned to pick up one or two of the CDs, so Monty's package deal really looked attractive.

The materials arrive late yesterday afternoon, and I haven't managed to find time to do much except sit and read and listen (well, I managed to get dinner last night, and some sleep, but aside from the necessities :-). This is, in its own way, as impressive as the Jin Nyodo notation. First off, it is printed on wonderfully heavy paper (probably 80# card stock). On the aesthetic side, Taniguchi's calligraphy is far more simple (perhaps "sparse" would be a better word) than Jin's (or Muira Kendo/Goro Yamaguchi) and therefore easier to read and work with - if you already know the piece.

Where Taniguchi's book really differs from the other notation sets that I've seen however, is that Taniguchi's commentary on the pieces has been translated into English. As those of us who have limited or no Japanese know, English translations (done here by Zachary Braverman, who also translated the liner notes for the Watazumi CD) are invaluable.

Commentary and translation give us insights into the history and character of the pieces that we would only get from our teachers or from other, scattered sources. I should also note that the liner notes for each CD carry further commentary on each piece (which is nice because three of the pieces on the CDs are not in the notation set :-(

Possession of this set of notation and CDs gives you a chance to study Taniguchi a bit which, while it may not be the same as studying *with* Taniguchi, is a fairly satisfying substitute.

I expect Monty will be making a second print run.

Bruce Jones <bjones@weber.ucsd.edu>


I am a self taught shakuhachi player. Although I have taken lessons over the past 10 years from some of the best teachers, I learned on my own how to read the notation and play the traditional music. My method of learning has been to get an instruction manual with cassette tape, listen to the music while following the score, and try to copy the sound as best I could. This isn't easy, but, it was the only way to learn the shakuhachi in Minnesota. Each instructor's manual would teach me a little something different, and by listening to all the CD's and cassette tapes available, I was able to teach myself this somewhat difficult instrument.

Recently I ordered the Chikuzen Shakuhachi Series CDs and Sheet Music. The book of scores by Yoshinobu Taniguchi is absolutely amazing and utterly beautiful. On the right hand page is the score of the piece. On the opposing page is art work by Taniguchi with a translation about the piece. I cannot believe the amount of work and commitment that went into the production of this stunning work of art.

Regarding the four CD set, it is hard for me to say if I've ever heard shakuhachi music that has moved me as much as this. I usually do not get too emotional when listening to recorded music, but, halfway through the piece "Ichi Jo", my eyes were swelling with tears. It was written by Kineya Seiho after the death of a close friend. Taniguchi's playing of this piece was quite overwhelming. I've listened to it several times and it still has a strong effect on me. His playing is filled with intensity and compassion. It's hard for me to describe in words the intense feelings I have experienced while listening to these CD's. His mastery of this simple piece of bamboo is amazing.

Gassho.

Leo Hansen <leosan@qwest.net>
http://www.composersforum.org/bamboofest/leo.htm




I am sitting here listening to the Taniguchi CD's you sent me and I just had to say something. I cannot think of anything I have enjoyed so much. Taniguchi-sensei is truly incredible. Thje book of Honkyoku is a work of art. I know I will spend many hours working on the pieces and just enjoying the art and notes. Thanks from all of us for your efforts in making this collection available in such an inspiring form!

Harlan Head

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