Saturday, 12 January 2008

Daha 打波 + Neiro antique and shakuhachi shop

I have just started learning Daha. This is a Koten piece from the Dokyoku school.

The history (from Tajima Tadashi) on explains that it is known as Pounding Drum Piece: the title conveys the incessant strivings involved in spiritual practice. The fast tempo and forceful breathing is said to indicate manifestations of the mind under strict discipline. (Pictured right is Sekino Hideo from an internet source unkown).

According to Kakizakai Sensei, the second Kanji used by Watazumi-do is waves breaking but also it is similar to the kanji character for destruction. Hence the pounding is perhaps smashing apart/shattering delusions, problems - "very Zen".

The origin of this piece is unclear, but it is usually interpreted as meaning da-to strike, and ha-to tear or break. According to this interpretation the objective of this piece is that all of the desires or worries of the common people will be overcome, and nothingness and all-ness will be transcended to reach a natural state of resignation. Yet another title used on some CD translations is 'Breaking of Waves'.

According to the Yokoyama recording notes, "just as that of Koku, this term has a spiritual resonance: the breaking of waves signifies the will to break all desires of terrestrial life in order to attain the state of Sunyata. This force of will is manifested by the rapidity of the movement and by the forceful attack together with the sound of the breathing."

Well, that is quite a tall order but the technique of komibuki (a kind of breath/diaphragm pulsating) used here helps one to stay focused and in the moment. It is the persistence of will power that is needed to get beyond unnecessary boundaries according to Taniguchi Yoshinobu's notes. "The techniques used in this work which make it diverse are an intricate smoothness in the sound and delicate movement." I very much like these piece, its diversity yet concision and broad spectrum of intensities. There is much to absorb about its rendering and I am enjoying burrowing more deeply into the piece. I sandpapered a minute amount of the sharpness off the edge of my utaguchi (mouthpiece) today (upon Kakizakai Sensei's recommendation, and to my consternation at first) and it has greatly improved the comfort of practising! He is very wise.

Boulez's Sur Incises score (3 pianos, 3 harps and 3 percussionists) (1996/1998) Universal Edition arrived today along with a video of Monsieur Boulez explaining his architectural conception of the form of the piece.

Today after my Tokyo lesson at Higashiyamato I took the Tokyu train line from Shibuya (where I devoured Midori Souhonten sushi at the counter - oishii) to Hakuraku (on the way to Yokohama City) to visit Neiro antique and shakuhachi shop. I say it that way because the owner, a keen shakuhachi player for 35 years, has many shakuhachi, some old and many quite new. This is the source from which several students have located second-hand Miura instruments. Probably luckily, he had no Miuras in 1.6 or any size I could play or endear myself to: only a giant 3.0 (a bit sharp and completely unreachable for my hands, despite his endless attempts to persuade me that I would stretch!) and a 1.3 that was squeakily high (a fourth above a regular shakuhachi) and too shrill for my neighbours (and me). Attempting to demonstrate that hand-stretching and agony is discipline, the owner is pictured playing a scary-looking bamboo tree, just a little longer than conventional 3.0-sun but much fatter: a log indeed. And he did play it remarkably!