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Hon Shirabe

本調

This is a piece of genre Koten from the Dokyoku / Chikushinkai School. Also Known As : Watazumi no Shirabe?.

Hon Shirabe appears on the following albums

AlbumShakuhachiKotoShamisen
Ajikan Taniguchi Yoshinobu

    "Honshirabe" literally means "basic melody". The technical and mental approaches to this piece represent the basic building blocks of shakuhachi honkyoku. It is said that some monks played this song their entire lives as part of a Buddhist training aimed at squeezing everything possible out of it and themselves. Of course, this does not mean that they were continually playing, but, more significantly, that they were "living" shakuhachi as a spiritual discipline.

    In beginning to practice a shakuhachi honkyoku, the student should ask, "What is necessary to play this piece?" If the answers do not spring off the page, then one hasn't done enough training. For Honshirabe, practice should focus on the extremes. That is to say, similar to language training where one benefits greatly from total immersion or repeated study of tapes, one needs to expand the envelope of shakuhachi practice considerably. Play the Tsu no Dai Meri notes below the Ro pitch. Play the long tapered tones until the last bit of life has been put into each note and a point is reached where the sound blends into nothing. One should practice mura iki not only for Otsu no Ro, but so that Otsu no Ro, Kan no Ro and Ha no Go can be distinctly heard with a myriad of other sounds incorporated into "one sound". Practice Tsu no Meri mura iki as well. Practice the initial Tsu/Re progression by blowing off the finger covering the #2 hole. There is no atari on this sound. This is an exercise designed to force ones complete self both inner and outer - to be put into the shakuhachi and force that finger upwards on the attack. Play the song with as wide a dynamic range as possible as well as quietly as possible.
    Experience both extremes.

    Remember that "hon" also refers to "honnin no kyoku" which means "one's own song". It would be strange to always imitate someone else's voice when speaking. The same goes for shakuhachi. In playing this piece, take an active mental approach and create your own song and distinctive voice. On the other hand, while diligent practice of basic techniques in a strict regimen can be very demanding, a commitment to such practice places one on the road to freedom.


Floating Clouds Michael Chikuzen Gould

    This song actually contains the basic elements of all the honkyoku. It is said that this song was the only one practiced during the whole lives of some of the Fuke sect monks for training.

His Practical Philosophy - 1



Honshirabe Rodrigo Rodriguez

Hotchiku (CD) Watazumi Doso Roshi

    ("Original Tuning")

    The first Shirabe piece that one trains in is Hon-Shirabe. The "Bon" of Hon-Shirabe means "fundamental," and is the same "Bon" from the phrase "hon-ne wo haku," meaning "revealing one's true self." "Hon-ne" is also "kyo-on," or empty sound, which means discarding conceptions of playing the tuning of the piece or performing it well and instead single-mindedly driving each breath into the bamboo and cultivating self-control in each breath. This results in a feeling like that of a wind descending from the sky to hit a bamboo grove and disappearing, leaving no trace.

    Hon-Shirabe comes from the Kinki region, and is often considered a warm-up piece for
    Koku-Ji.

    A giant 3.4 shaku hocchiku made by a child and with no tuning was used for this piece. Creating a tone and suijo with this hocchiku was a nearly impossible task, but it was achieved.

Hotchiku (CD) Watazumi Doso Roshi

    Watazumi no Shirabe

    ("Watazumi's Tuning")

    The first step in learning the pieces of Watazumi-Do is training with Shirabe pieces. There are many Shirabe pieces and each has its own purpose, such the exploration of one's state of mind, warming up, or the development of "Aun" breathing.

    Watazumi no Shirabe is at the height of all Shirabe pieces. It and Shura no Shirabe are contrastive with Saji.

    The piece expresses a feeling of distance and remoteness, and displays profound and subtle techniques. It originates from northern Japan, but has been altered into a uniquely Watazumi-Do flavor.

    The hocchiku used is a 2.85 shaku flute that expressing stillness.

In Dead Earnest Ishikawa Toshimitsu

Japan - Tajima Tadashi, Master of Shakuhachi Tajima Tadashi

    Basis for Enlightenment, G#, 2.55 shaku

    Hon shirabe is regarded as preparation for what will follow: it is the first piece learned by most shakuhachi players; it is often used to begin a ceremony, a concert, or even one's own practice time; and it is often associated with a naïve state of mind prior to "understanding, spiritual awakening, higher perception, and spiritual enlightenment". Thus, while not requiring any advanced playing techniques, "Hon shirabe" does nevertheless require of the player an ability to control his own mind, his own breathing, and the performance environment. In other words, the essence of this piece is simplicity of style and the condensation of beauty.

Japanese Traditional Shakuhachi Yokoyama Katsuya

    Hamamatsu district origin. Has a melody of pure simplicity and intuitive power.

Katsuya Yokoyama Plays Shakuhachi - 1 Yokoyama Katsuya

    Hamamatsu district origin. Has a melody of pure simplicity and intuitive power.

Koten Shakuhachi Kakizakai Kaoru

    One meaning of Shirabe is "beginning" and this version is from the Hamamatsu region. It is a grounding piece that reminds me the poem of "Dogyu Sekiden o Tagayasu (Cow made by soil cultivates rocky barren fields)" written by Kanzan, a poet in Tan Dynasty. This is a demanding piece because if our inner energies are not gathered, the image will be limited, as if to see only the tip of an iceberg.

Meian Socho - 1 Sakaguchi Tesshin


Poeme du Bambou Marco Lienhard


Priests and Samurai Ryan Sullivan

    Played on Suikyo 2.1


Shakuhachi - Clive Bell Clive Bell

    Authentic Tune - A Shirabe is a kind of prelude, used to test a new flute or to introduce a performance.


Shakuhachi - The Japanese Flute Miyata Kohachiro

    This short piece corresponds to a prelude or overture, and today is often used at the beginning of a program. The term ‘shirabe,’ which appears frequently in titles of Japanese instrumental compositions, means ‘investigation,’ specifically with respect to the instrument's tuning. The written character for ‘hon’ means "central" or ‘primary,’
    and with stringed instruments it alludes to the most frequently employed tunings.


Shakuhachi Meditations Rodrigo Rodriguez

Shika no Tone Shakuhachi Koten Meikyoku Shusei - 1 Yokoyama Katsuya

    The Shirabe is played before the beginning of a tune. There are two kinds of Shirabe, one is separate, and the other forms part of another piece. The Shirabe is also used to test a new bamboo instrument (Shakuhachi). The Honshirabe, with its tender beauty, is said to be the best piece of this kind.


Shingetsu Tajima Tadashi

    Serves as a renewal of the relationship between the bamboo and the performer.

Sokoinrancho Watazumi Doso Roshi


Tajima Tadashi Shakuhachi no Sekai I Tajima Tadashi

Tanoshi - Joy Debbie Danbrook


The Voice of Bamboo Steven Taizen Casano


Words Can't Go There John Kaizan Neptune

World of Zen Music, The - Saji Nakamura Akikazu

    The word shirabe is used today with the same meaning as melody, but it derives from the word meaning 'to investigate' (shiraberu) and thus implies the idea of investigating the relationships between oneself and the cosmic state in which one is located. This explains why pieces with the term shirabe in their titles are often performed as introductions to other pieces. There are many pieces in the shakuhachi repertoire with titles including the term shirabe, but the present piece is the most fundamental of these pieces, as is suggested by the fact that its title means 'original shirabe'.

    Hon-shirabe was transmitted from the Fudaiji temple in Hamamatsu into the Seien school of shakuhachi by the school's founder, Kanetomo Seien (1818-95), although the piece is said to be almost identical to a piece entitled Choshi transmitted at the Myoanji temple in Kyoto.

    The piece starts with a simple motif featuring repetitions of a single pitch. The pitch gradually rises until a passage referred to as tsuguri is reached. This term derives from the idea of 'succeeding to' the previous tone colour. The principle involved in this case is to play pitches using fingerings generally used for the pitches a tone or a semitone higher, i.e. by lipping down the pitch. This results in a subdued tone quality with few harmonics and also contributes to the contrast between sound and silence in the music. The piece comes to a close after a return to the motif with which it began. In terms of tone colour, therefore, the piece has a ternary structure with music featuring restrained use of overtones being set between music which employs overtones to the full. This is paralleled by a loud-soft-loud structure. In Western music, such a ternary structure applying principally on the level of tone colour and dynamics would be highly unusual.

    Another feature of this piece is the emphasis on the dynamic and austere notion of dynamic contrast between sound and silence, the sense of timing known in Japanese aesthetics as ma.

    The very simplicity of the melody makes this a difficult piece to perform, and it is considered for this reason to be a touchstone of the ability of a shakuhachi-player, On the spiritual level, the standard of performance demonstrated by someone playing this piece is considered to reflect his stage of development on the path to Buddhist enlightenment.

Zen - Katsuya Yokoyama - 01 Yokoyama Katsuya

    The Shirabe is played before the beginning of a tune. There are two kinds of Shirabe, one is separate, and the other forms part of another piece. The Shirabe is also used to test a new bamboo instrument (Shakuhachi). The Honshirabe, with its tender beauty, is said to be the best piece of this kind.


The International Shakuhachi Society - 2017