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In the film Kung Fu Panda, Master Oogway, the turtle, talks about studying the mysteries of Harmony and Focus. This is a Yoda-esque, pseudo-Zen master type of character. Personally, I love it when these type of characters appear in films, particularly if they correctly impart any kind of useful Zen approach to the protagonist/audience. Some Zen enthusiasts have a derogatory opinion of these sometimes cute, quaint, or overly-pithy characters, but this makes no sense to me unless their appearance in some way causes harm or misdirection, which I find not to be true, at least in the case of Yoda, Oogway, Mr. Miyagi, Master Po, Master Kan, etc.—in my opinion the more the general public is exposed to intelligent and expanded thinking, the greater the chances of survival of our species (which are looking slim in general).

At any rate, I particularly enjoyed this phrase, as it seems to directly relate to flute playing: harmony and focus. The mental focus and the actual focus of our air stream are the primary aspects of flute playing in general. Once we establish some kind of tone, we move on to musical thought: melody, harmony and rhythm. The way in which our brain perceives larger musical structures is the expanded definition of Harmony, and this is working in a unique way when it comes to single-line, solo instrumental music such as this. The parallels that I have discovered between spiritual discipline and instrumental study are the subjects of another project, but in general the shakuhachi, hocchiku or Taimu explorer should seek out and bear these parallels in mind, thus revealing additional reasons that we are fascinated with making these sounds.

Musical Details:

This piece is at the intersection of the honkyoku influence and the blues influence. Kung Fu Blues, in a way. It is riff-based, but epic in its intention. Like most mukyoku, it is meant to be played with a full sound, large breath capacity and melodic forward motion within each phrase and connecting the phrases.

credits

from Mukyoku: New Compositions for Taimu Shakuhachi, released October 10, 2010
Cornelius Boots: composition, performance on 2.8 Taimu Shakuhachi made by Ken Mujitsu LaCosse.

www.corneliusboots.com
www.mujitsu.com/mukyoku

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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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