“Koku”

September 6, 2009

“Think of the best things in the world […] they’re all obsolete”—Ed Dorn, Live: Lectures, Interviews, and Outtakes.

Koku

“Koku” is one of the three classic “original pieces” (honkyoku) in the solo shakuhachi repertoire (along with “Kyorei” and “Mukaiji”).  According to legend, the zen monk Kyochiku heard this melody in a dream.  The title, “Koku,” translates as the “empty sky” but refers to the original Buddha nature common to all sentient beings.

The sozu, or shishiodoshi, heard in the background was recorded at Shinsen-do, Higashiyama, Kyoto (as seen in the podcast photograph).  Originally constructed in order to frighten away deer, birds, boar, bear, and chimera from the garden, the sozu is now obsolete.

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