In the Fall of 2009, in the middle of my year-long mukyoku composition work, Chikuzen Sensei led a trip of 6 shakuhachi students and some of their pals/spouses to Japan. We went to the choicest Temples in and around Kyoto and Nara; stayed for 2 days in Mineyama with Taniguchi Sensei for a shakuhachi intensive; played with Chieko, sankyoku masters and students; visited multiple hot springs and baths, and ate amazing food made by monks, nuns (at Sanzen-in), and a young master chef (at Café Millet). This piece is inspired by the pair of huge wooden statues, Niou Temple Guardians, Agyo and Ungyo, guarding the entrance to Todaiji in Nara. They represent the primordial syllables AH and OM: yin and yang; inhale and exhale; birth and death. Known as Kongorishiki, Niou, or Vajrapani, they are two wrath-filled and muscular guardians of the Buddha, in the form of frightening wrestler-like statues. These are some of the finest wooden sculptures in Japan from the 13th century, carved by Unkei in 1203. In this duet, they come to life and encounter each other on stage.

Musical Details:

The creation of each of the three mukyoku duets utilized a different compositional approach. This piece is the only duet to
have no phrases borrowed from the solo mukyoku in it: it was composed completely as its own piece. This is a programmatic piece: it is a sound illustration of the statues/deities coming to life and interacting on a big stage (everything in Todaiji is huge).

Naturally, a duet for Taimu needed to be inspired by giants and not by cranes, deer, frogs or crickets. As huge statues standing still for centuries, it takes them awhile to get moving: the first ten lines are the introduction. After they are in sync, there is a kind of cosmic sumo dance before they settle back into their own frozen positions for another 1000 years.


from Mukyoku: New Compositions for Taimu Shakuhachi, released October 10, 2010
Cornelius Boots: composition, performances on 2.45 Taimu Shakuhachi made by Ken Mujitsu LaCosse.



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Cornelius Boots - Solo Shakuhachi 尺八 San Francisco, California

Avant Nature Music. Bamboo Gospel & Buddhist Blues: from hymns to heavy metal. New music for standard & bass (Taimu) shakuhachi, the robust woodwind of Japan.

Cornelius Boots is a leading creative shakuhachi composer-performer, active internationally in woodwinds since 1990. A Shihan (master) in the lineage of Watazumido and ex-orchestral/rock bass clarinetist, jazz guy and bandleader.
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