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Japan: Shakuhachi: The Japanese Flute

Japan: Shakuhachi: The Japanese Flute cover art

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News & Reviews

  • Independent (UK): Nonesuch Explorer Series Reissue "Wonderful to Hear Once More"

    The reissue of the groundbreaking Nonesuch Explorer Series titles from Japan is now complete, with the recent addition of two more titles. The Independent exclaims, "It's wonderful that Nonesuch is reissuing the 92-LP Explorer Series, which put ethnomusicology on the map in the Seventies," and says of the recently reissued Koto Classics: "[I]t's wonderful to hear once more koto master Shinichi Yuize in his prime ... and these classic pieces display [the koto's] suggestive power to the full."

  • Scotsman: Return of Explorer Series "Simply Wonderful"

    "Never again will a record company essay what the producers of the Nonesuch Explorers did in 1967, bringing out a series of superb field recordings to make, eventually, a 92-record set," says The Scotsman in its five-star review of the two titles that marked the reissue of a number of Japanese Explorer Series albums on CD this fall: Koto Classics and Geza Music from the Kabuki. "The vinyl LPs ... brought to light a wealth of hitherto hidden traditions," says the review, and their return as remastered CDs "is simply wonderful, because much of this music—four decades on—is now either extinct or grievously debased."

About this Album

This album features serenely beautiful, centuries-old compositions performed solo by shakuhachi master Kohachiro Miyata of the Ensemble Nipponia and recorded live during the group’s first North American tour in 1976. In the years since its original release on vinyl, Western audiences have become increasingly knowledgeable about the sounds of both traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. That familiarity makes the performances preserved on this disc perhaps even more compelling to the informed audiences of today.

The shakuhachi is the most important wind instrument of Japan, where it has been used for well over a millennium. There are few, if any, other instruments in the world that associate so complex a playing technique with such simplicity of construction. Despite the presence of only five holes (and no keys), the instrument has a complete chromatic scale of more than two octaves. Larger shakuhachi have a warm and full tone similar to the flute, recorder, or clarinet families of Western instruments. Many of the solo pieces are conceived as aids for meditation, both for listener and player. A number of compositions also draw on distinctive ancient melodies in a way that preserves their unique regional character without undue emphasis on folkloric aspects.


Kōhachiro Miyata, shakuhachi

Originally released in 1977 (H-72076)
Produced by David Lewiston
Engineered by David Lewiston & Larry Mericka
Mastered by Robert C. Ludwig (Masterdisk Corp.)
Coordinator: Teresa Sterne
Re-mastered by Robert C. Ludwig

Design: Doyle Partners

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