Meditation #31

June 13, 2010

“Think? How the hell are you gonna think and hit at the same time?”—Yogi Berra.

A shakuhachi improvisation.   Meditation #31

Meditation #30

June 6, 2010

“You can’t fix it [corporate monstrosity].  You can’t make it go away.
I don’t know what you’re going to do about it,
But I know what I’m going to do about it.  I’m just
going to walk away from it.  Maybe
A small part of it will die if I’m not around
feeding it anymore”
—Lew Welch, “Chicago Poem.”
A shakuhachi improvisation.   Meditation #30

“Shishi”

May 30, 2010

“Suzuki Roshi said, ‘If I die, it’s all right.  If I should live, it’s all right. Sun-face Buddha, Moon-face Buddha.’  Why do I always fall for that old line?”—Philip Whalen, “Walking beside the Kamogawa, Remembering Nasen and Fudo and Gary’s Poem.”

Shishi

A piece in the nezasaha tradition.

Meditation #29

May 23, 2010

“Whose flute is that in the painted tower
blowing and pausing in harmony with the wind
its sound stops the clouds traveling across the sky
its notes reach my curtain with the winter moon
inspired like the tunes of Huan Yi
reminiscent of Ma Jung’s old ode
but where is the person when the song is done
and the notes continue to float in the air”
—Chao Ku (815-856), Poems of the Masters: China’s Classic Anthology of T’ang and Sung Dynasty Verse, translated by Red Pine.
A shakuhachi improvisation.    Meditation #29

Meditation #28

May 16, 2010

“When they [classical musicians] think of improvisation they think of connecting one written thing to another written thing.  When I think of improvisation I think of going from zero to zero or to wherever it goes but I’m not connecting one thing to another . . .”—Keith Jarrett, The Art of Improvisation.

A shakuhachi improvisation.   Meditation #28

“Matsukaze”

May 9, 2010

“Like bamboo shadows on the steps, they can’t be swept away.  Like the moon moving across the water, it doesn’t leave a trace”—Pao-t’ung, qtd. in The Heart Sutra, translated and commentary by Red Pine.

Matsukaze

The nezasaha school from Japan’s northern Tohoku region emphasizes a pulsating breathing technique.

Minyo Medley #2

May 2, 2010

“Some people feel the rain.  Others just get wet”—Bob Dylan.

Minyo Medley #2

A selection of Japanese folksongs:

“Soran Bushi” (Hokkaido)

“Dompan Bushi” (Akita)

“Hanagasa Odori” (Yamagata)

“Kokiriko Bushi” (Toyama)

“Kushimoto Bushi” (Wakayama)

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