Meditation #27

April 25, 2010

“The woman’s song, however, could have been a signal called by one mountain wayfarer to another on a distant hill.  In certain long notes which lay outside the passage of time because the rhythm was suspended, there was the immeasurable melancholy of mountain twilights.  Telling himself it was a beautiful song, he decided to stand still and let it work upon him whatever spell it could.  With this music it was senseless to say, because the same thing happened over and over within a piece, that once you knew what was coming next you did not need to listen to the end.  Unless you listened to it all, there was not way of knowing what effect it was going to have on you.  It might take ten minutes or it might take an hour, but any judgment you passed on the music before it came to its end was likely to be erroneous.  And so he stood there, his mind occupied with uncommon, half-formed thoughts.  At moments the music made it possible for him to look directly into the center of himself and see the black spot there which was the eternal…”—Paul Bowles, The Spider’s House.
A shakuhachi improvisation.   Meditation #27

“Sanya”

April 18, 2010

“…Reshaping narrow law and art
Whose symbols are the millions slain,
From bitter searching of the heart
We rise to play a greater part.”
— F. R. Scott (1899-1985), “Villanelle for Our Time.”

Sanya

Long associated with the defunct Futaiken Temple in Sendai (the site is now a parking lot), “Sanya” (“Three Valleys”) is the quintessential honkyoku piece.

Meditation #26

April 11, 2010

“The melody of inhaling and exhaling…Markandeya is listening to this song.  He is listening to the breathing of the Highest Being”—Heinrich Zimmer, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization.
A shakuhachi improvisation.  Meditation #26

Meditation #25

April 4, 2010

“You don’t have to live in a cave or sit by a precipice to treat wealth and power like passing clouds.  You can sip wine and hum poetry without being addicted to streams and mountains”—Hong Zicheng, Vegetable Roots Discourse (Caigentan), trans Robert Aitken.
A shakuhachi improvisation.  Meditation #25
*A note on the photographs: With two exceptions, all podcast photographs thus far were by Paul Scrivener of Vancouver, Canada.  (The photograph for “Light from the Shadows” is an archival photograph which was featured in the film by Robert Kowalcyzk.  The photograph for “Murasaki Reiho” was by a former student of mine, David Gardiner Garcia.)  Paul Scrivener’s photographs of Kyoto are available on the CD-ROM Kyoto Gardens, a project which we worked on together in the mid-90s and of which I retain fond memories.  From this podcast, “Meditation #25,” accompanying photographs are by Stewart Wachs, a long-time friend and colleague here in Japan.  Please refer to the links below for further information on Light from the Shadows, Kyoto Gardens, and Stewart Wachs: Photography.