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

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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

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

Meditation #23

February 28, 2010

“No artist is able to overcome, through his own individual resources, the contradiction of enchained art within an enchained society”—Theodoro Adorno, Philosophy of Modern Music.
A shakuhachi improvisation.  Meditation #23
Bell recorded at Enryakuji Temple, Mt. Hiei, Kyoto.

Meditation #22

February 14, 2010

“Leaves fall and return to the roots.  When they appear again, they are silent”—Hui-Neng, the sixth Zen partiarch after Bodhidharma, qtd. in The Essential Teachings fo Zen Master Hakuin, trans. Norman Waddell.
A shakuhachi improvisation.  Meditation #22

Meditation #21

February 7, 2010

“…What I came to say was,
teach the children about the cycles.
The life cycles.  All the other cycles.
That’s what it’s all about, and it’s all forgot.”
—Gary Snyder, “For/From Lew.”

Meditation #21

Meditation #18

January 17, 2010

“Well, Al, I don’t know.  I guess I would have to say it would be because … if I didn’t, who would I be when I listened to a piece of music?”—Frank Serpico, when Al Pacino asked him why.

A shakuhachi improvisation.  Meditations #18

Meditation #17

December 27, 2009

“Music is a language related to the invisible by which nothingness suddenly is there in a form that cannot be seen but can certainly be perceived”—Peter Brook, The Empty Space.

A shakuhachi improvisation.  Meditation #17

“Mujushinkyoku”

December 13, 2009

“As for the exercise of sitting until one does not hear, at the extreme of quiet stillness, the mind is not drawn into movement by the ears.  One hears only sound, not tone.  This is not hearing”—The Spirit of Tao (trans Thomas Cleary).

Mujushinkyoku

“Brought to life” by Jin Nyodo in 1937, who did not regard this piece as a “composition” but rather a shokyoku (“born piece”)—a sort of transcription of music that emerged naturally by itself.  The title derives from a passage in the Diamond Sutra: “Just at the point when one has no place to dwell (muju), such a spirit (shin) is born.”  The piece, implying “a heart with no abode,” or “an unattached spirit,” is reminiscent of the komuso’s prescribed reply to a question concerning destination: “I have no resting place.”  Jin Nyodo is said to have remarked that this piece conveys the spirit of a person who has lost everything, and in so doing, has found his true self.  Put another way: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35).