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Shika no Tône (Kinko Ryû)

鹿の遠音

This is a piece of genre Koten from the Kinko Ryû - 琴古流 School.

History (John Singer):

This is one of the most famous Kinko Ryu Honkyoku pieces. In addition, the Japanese Ministry of Education decided to use this piece in their musical textbooks.

"Shika No Tohne" describes a scene in deep autumn when the voice of the male deer calls for his female deer mates. And this type of descriptive scene has been used in poetic material since the time of the "Kokin Washu" (an ancient poetry anthology).

"Shika No Tohne" can be played as a solo piece, however, in a duet, the ending of one musical phrase overlaps into the beginning of another. This piece can be divided into five parts. After the introductory phrase of the whole piece, the first part is that which is played with the special "Mura-Iki" technique with the octave rising. Part two takes in part one, moreover, four individually characteristic melodies develop. Emotionally, part two is the climax of the entire piece. In the third section, the previous high feeling is succeeded and then every phrase intensifies. Then, to our surprise, the first melody re-appears abruptly. In part four, the melody proceeds calmly and the fifth part is brief, concluding the whole piece. In this concluding part, it is as if, rather than viewing deer, the focus is changed to that of the scenery deep in the mountains where the leaves on the trees have turned red and yellow. This is felt because the ending of "Shika No Toneh" is so calm.

This piece was transmitted to Kinko by Ikkei-Shi.

Shika no Tône (Kinko Ryû) appears on the following albums

AlbumShakuhachiKotoShamisen
Ajikan Taniguchi Yoshinobu

    Several images have been used to capture the meaning of this duet for shakuhachi, the main one being a romance of two deer searching and secretly calling to each other from faraway places. Whatever the image evoked, a desire to communicate and hope of making contact are two basic themes which color this composition. Technically very demanding in the Watazumi-style of playing, the real key to mastering this honkyoku is to get beyond the rational mind and to play instinctively.

    Shika no Tone is a piece favored by many shakuhachi players, especially those of intermediate and early advanced levels. One reason for its popularity is that most players spend so much time in solo practice that a chance to play along with others is eagerly welcomed. Another reason for Shika no Tone's wide appeal is that it opens itself up willingly to individualized styles of playing. Students looking for "breathing room" from the strict definition of most honkyoku pieces find a warm invitation to the open space here and the welcome challenge of the playing with a partner.

    Whether playing in the dynamic style of Watazumi Do, the elegant style of Yamaguchi Goro or the robust style of Aoki Reibo, one should be steeped in the basic forms and techniques and show self-discipline before developing a personal expression of this song. It has been said that Tsuru no Sugomori, amongst all honkyoku, allows the player to take the most liberties with its interpretation. Shika no Tone runs neck-and-neck with The Nesting of the Cranes in this regard. Certain honkyoku pieces like these lend themselves to personal expression and, thus, clearly visible variations are naturally welcomed. The classical size 1.8' shakuhachi is generally used to perform this song, however, the 2.1' size is also quite effective.

Aoki Reibo no Shakuhachi Aoki Reibo II

Araki Kodo III and Fukuda Eika - Collection of Famous Performances - 01 Araki Kodo III

Art of the Japanese Bamboo Flute and Koto Richard Stagg

    The third piece in the album, SHIKA NO TONE for solo shakuhachi, belongs to the Edo Period honkyoku, a style of composition unique to the shakuhachi which was performed by wandering monks and ronin (ex-samurai). It is sometimes performed as a duet, since it represents the calling of deer to one another across the forest. The notes were first written down by Kurosawa Kinko in the late Eighteenth Century , but before this event the history of the piece is obscure. It has been suggested that it was used as a test-piece or musical password for identifying bogus shakuhachi-players (i.e. those who, underneath their basket-hats were little more than spies or informers working for the shogunate). It exploits a wide variety of features of shakuhachi-technique, including glissandi, head-vibrato and muraiki (a rushing wind-sound).

Complete Collection of Honkyoku from the Kinko School - Vol 1 - Disc 3 Aoki Reibo II

Daiyon FUDO - Kineya Seiho Yonemura Reisho

    The two shakuhachi in this work represent two deer crying out to each other deep in the mountains on a late autumn day. This is a very popular, refreshing, and thoroughly enchanting composition, and the dialogue between the two shakuhachi is rich in change. There are an infinite variety of expressions possible in this piece depending on the performers, and it is one of the most often-performed and important works in the shakuhachi repertoire.

Feel It On Yamaguchi Goro

Hogaku Meikyoku Sen - Collection of Famous Classical Music - Shakuhachi Yamaguchi Goro

Hogaku Meikyoku Sen; Shakuhachi Yamaguchi Goro

Japan - Music of the Shakuhachi Yokoyama Katsuya

    According to legend, Kurosawa Kinko, founder of the Kinko school, was taught this piece by a komuso priest named Ikkei in Nagasaki. The piece is interpreted as a representation either of two deer calling to one another to stress their territorial rights or of a male and a female deer responding to one another's calls deep in the autumnal mountains. The music is thus programmatic in content, its main elements being a mood of loneliness suggested by the image of an isolated mountain village in autumn and the imitation of the cries of deer.

    As with Sokaku reibo, the first piece on this disc, this is a large-scale piece making extensive use of melodic repetition. But at the same time it is full of variety and technical difficulty, such features ensuring that the music never seems excessively long. As one of the finest pieces in the repertoire, Shika no tone is the most widely known of the shakuhachi honkyoku. It is generally performed as a duet in which the performers play in alternation. In this respect, it is an exceptional piece in the Kinko school honkyoku repertoire, which consists almost entirely of pieces for the unaccompanied instrument. The inclusion of many elements whose interpretation is entrusted to the individual performer is a feature of the honkyoku as such. This means that no two performances of the piece, even when given by the same players, are the same, with subtle differences appearing in the manner of response and the combination of phrases. A sense of breadth and spatial perspective is generated by variations in dynamics and the use of pauses between intensely interpreted phrases. Perfect coordination between the two players is the essential requirement of a successful performance of this technically demanding piece. The present performance is one of astonishing intensity in which the personalities of the two players confront one another head-on.

Japan - Splendour of the Shakuhachi Ishikawa Toshimitsu

    This work is the most famous in the Kinko school honkyoku repertoire. Honkyoku are generally solo shakuhachi works, but this work is atypical in that it is for two shakuhachi.

    Shika no Tone depicts two deer crying out to each other deep in the mountains. The form of the piece is introduction, development, and restatement, and includes techniques called merikomi, suriage, uchi, and nayashi, techniques achieved by movement of the fingers, neck, and chin. It also makes use of techniques called muraiki and kaza, special effects which are achieved through breath control.

    This shakuhachi work is unique in the world of music.

Japan - Tajima Tadashi, Master of Shakuhachi Tajima Tadashi

    Distant calls of deer, D, 1.8 shaku

    although this piece can be appreciated as a kind of "abstract music", it is usually interpreted as a tone poem or a piece of "programme music" in which a male deer, deep in an autumnal forest, utters cries of ardent affection for his far-off beloved partner. This piece is often performed by two players who alternate phrases, the prolonged sounds of which are either interpreted as the alternate cries of the male and female deer or as echoes of the male deer's own cries. In this particular performance, however, the singer soloist attempts to express feelings of solitude.

Japanese Music for Two Shakuhachi Ralph Samuelson

    Kurosawa Kinko is said to have collected this piece at Shojuken temple in Nagasaki from the monk Ikkeishi, and his arrangement was subsequently incorporated as one of the 36 honkyoku of the Kinko-ryu. Shika no Tone is one of the few honkyoku pieces traditionally played as a duet, and its unusually dramatic and poetic qualities have made it very popular for performance on the concert stage. The call-and-response form represents the image of two deer calling in the woods as they gradually approach each other through the distance.


Japon Yokoyama Katsuya

    Deer's Throat Heard from Afar

    This is one of the rare duets conceived for two Shakuhachi in order to symbolize the call of the stag and his answering doe heard in the distant autumn mountains. K. Yokoyama has recorded each instrumental part separately to obtain two stereophonic voices.

Japon - Musique Millenaire Yokoyama Katsuya

    Typique composition de l'Ecole de Kinko, qui remonte à plus de 250 ans. A l'origine, elle était interprétée en duo. Elle est probablement inspirée par les ralles d'amour d'un cerf et de sa femelle au profond des forêts de montagne.

Japon L'art du shakuhachi Yokoyama Katsuya

    Shika no tone (The Troating Of Distant Deers)

    This piece is one of the few which were designed as a shakuhachi duet. It represents the calls of a deer and a doe responding to each another in the mountains, in the autumn. Here, this symbol has a transcendental meaning, as "Reibo".

Jin Nyodo No Shakuhachi 04 Jin Nyodo

    Kinko-ryu: SHIKA-NO-TONE

    1-shaku 9-sun
    16 min. 7 sec.

    1. About the title:

    This piece takes as its theme the yearning call of a stag for a mate at the height of autumn. However, it is not devoted exclusively to depicting the way of life of deer, but expresses as well the scenery and mood of isolated mountains in autumn. As a representative piece among Kinko-ryu honkyoku, it is widely known, but we should note that there is in fact a piece by the same name in the Myoan tradition and that the two pieces are completely different works.

    2. Structure of the piece

    It is fashioned in a kakeai style for two flutes which makes it an exception among classical shakuhachi honkyoku which were originally structured for solo performance. However, on this recording Jin Nyodo uses a solo format, playing both melodies. In the kakeai style where two flutes are used, as one player's melody ends the other player's melody begins, to create an overlapping effect; but as a composition it is still fully capable of standing by itself even without this overlapping of melodies.

    The piece can be broadly divided into five dan:

    Dan 1 - This can be subdivided into two parts: an opening jo section and an initial developmental section in a higher range. In this latter section the blowing technique called muraiki, which is used a great deal in this piece, is introduced. This special feature of the piece leaves a distinct impression.

    Dan 2 - This section is the core of the work. Continuing from the preceding dan which reached into the highest range, this section begins with a powerful melody in the lower range of the second octave. At last the pitch rises and enters the main developmental section which centers on the ha and hi tones in the KO register. Four elegant and subtle melodies are developed, repeated, and passed back and forth between the parts.

    Dan 3 - Continuing from the preceding dan, and after a transitional melody which fills in the interval, the melody of the first dan is repeated and gradually the heightened mood relaxes somewhat.

    Dan 4 - The mood of the piece becomes tranquil again and a hushed feeling spreads overall.

    Dan 5 - A short finale section which closes the piece with a feeling of the clear serenity of autumn.

    3. Special features of the piece:

    This piece is the most beautiful piece among the many Kinko-ryu honkyoku for its wealth of variety.

Katsuya Yokoyama Plays Shakuhachi - 1 Yokoyama Katsuya

    The most popular piece of the thirty-six Honkyoku melodies of the Kinko-school. While the majority of the Honkyoku melodies are solo music, this piece is very unique and is composed for a duet-performance. Within its lonesomeness and liveliness, the music depicts the world seikan or the serene contemplation: it is just the same world as an ancient poet once depicted in his famous Tanka-poem:

    Far up the mountain side,
    While tramping over the scarlet maple leaves,
    I hear the mournful cry of the wild deer:
    This sad, sad autumn tide.

    This piece is the only shakuhachi music that has been included in the standard listening-repertoire of the junior high school music education.

Ki-Sui-An Honkyoku Vol 1 Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin

Kinko Ryu Shakuhachi - Hogaku Vol 19 Yamaguchi Goro

Kinko Ryu Shakuhachi Honkyoku Senshu - 2 Yamaguchi Goro

Kinko Ryu Shakuhachi Koten Honkyoku Notomi Judo I

Kinko Ryu Shakuhachi Meikyoku Sen Yamaguchi Goro

Kodo Araki Araki Kodo V

    The mountainside in late autumn, where cold arctic winds sweep the slopes, to envelop the darkness of the night in soundless sound. This piece uses the descriptive term "Distant Calls of the Deer" to tell of the pathetic, pitiful lot of wild animals who are about greet and endure the cold snows of the winter. Because it is generally presented by a plural number of instruments, it is generally considered that the passages represent male and female deer calling to each other, but this is not necessarily so; this rendition is delivered as a solo.

Koga Masayuki Shakuhachi Solo Music Koga Masayuki

    This classical shakuhachi piece was written in the Edo Period, during the 17th Century. It reflects the sound of deer calling to each other in the mountains.


Kou Aoki Reibo II

Le Koto de Yusen Kuzuhara et le Shakuhachi de Teiji Itoh Itoh Teiji

Melody of Japan - Pathos of Autumn



Music For Two Shakuhachi Andreas Fuyu Gutzwiller

Music of Japan, The - Vol I Yokoyama Katsuya

Musical Atlas - Japan Notomi Judo I

    The Shakuhachi is a bamboo end-blown flute. It was first used in China during the T'ang dynasty (8th century) and it was brought to Japan among the instruments of the orchestra. Three Shakuhachis of the period, each with six finger-holes, have been preserved in the Imperial Treasury of Sho-so-in at Nara City, together with other musical instruments including fragments of an ancient Koto. After the disappearance of the ancient Shakuhachi, a new type of Shakuhachi with five finger-holes, four in front and one an the back, began to be played by Buddhist itinerant priests of the Fuke sect, a sect of Zen Buddhism. In the 18th century the instrument became very popular and was added to the Koto-Shamisen ensemble. The particular repertoire of the Fuke Shakuhachi was however preserved and developed into a refined genre of art music. This style is known as the Kinko School.

    We have chosen here one of the most famous pieces of the Kinko Shakuhachi music. The title means "The Distant Call
    of the Deers". The music is an evocation of two deer answering each other across a valley. The specific blowing technique gives a characteristic sound delicately colored with various effects. The free rhythm, artistically controlled, represents the beauty of nature, an element always present in the poetic concepts of the alder Japanese. The performers in this recording are a father and his son, both known as outstanding Kinko Shakuhachi players.

Musical Instruments of Japan - 3


Musiques de l'Asie Traditionnelle Vol 20 Japon - The Shakuhachi of Reibo Aoki Aoki Reibo II

    It is told that this tune was composed by Kinko Kurosawa II around the eighteenth century.

    Two shakuhachis are alternately played in a way called "Yobikaeshi". The process of the two gradually coming closer is dramatically expressed. The theme and motive come from the cry of male and female deer in deep mountains and dark valleys. It is not just a program music. It is a pure instrumental absolute music, a song of a man's heart. I wonder what the people thought and felt of echoes of deer cries in the deep mountains when they played this tune. More than two hundred years have past since this tune was made. We living in the concrete jungle today do not play this tune merely by admiration for nature and nostalgia. My wish is to play this song contemplating reality and my own way of living. I would like to convey the feeling of a living being to this song and thoroughly sing out. (played with an Itshaku-hassun-kan: shakuhachi of about 55 cm).


Mysterious Sounds of the Japanese Bamboo Flute, The Fukuda Teruhisa

Nihon no Dento Vol 2 (Japanese Traditions) Yamaguchi Goro

Ningen Kokuho Shirizu 5 Yamaguchi Goro


Priests and Samurai Ryan Sullivan

    Played on Deaver 1.8 #2

Sangai Rinten - 3 Yokoyama Katsuya

    Although most Fuke Sect shakuhachi honkyoku were written for solo shakuhachi, this very well known piece was written for two shakuhachi which trade off parts while over-lapping with each other. The .title of the piece literally means "the distant sound of deer." The usual interpretation of the piece

    is that it portrays the cries of a male and female deer deep in the mountains. Another interpretation is that it represents the feelings of lonesomeness and sadness of a priest listening to the distant cries of the deer.

Shakuhachi - Chidori No Kyoku Yamaguchi Goro


Shakuhachi - Clive Bell Clive Bell

    The Call of the Deer - The mating call of deer herds in the mountains. Often played as a duet; this is Kohachiro Miyata's solo version of the piece.


Shakuhachi - Japanese Traditional Music Aoki Reibo II

    “Shika no Tone” ("The Distant Cry of the Deer") is a well-known Kinko style honkyoku played with two persons. The piece develops as each player plays in succession the same phrase. As the intensity of the piece increases, the phrases overlap, creating a haunting harmony. Both players play the ending in unison, creating the impression that two entities have merged. The title suggests two deer in an autumnal forest calling to each other, gradually joining together, but the metaphor can be expanded: two individuals come together, or the elements of man, nature, and art unify.

Shakuhachi - Number 40 Yamaguchi Goro


Shakuhachi - The Art of Yokoyama Katsuya Yokoyama Katsuya

    Originally this piece was known as "Yobikaesi shika no tone." Yobikaeshi means 'call and response' and, as the original name indicates, this is the one and only piece among koten honkyoku which is played by two performers. The piece is nearly 200 years old and has remained in the Kinko style of the honkyoku repertoire, established by Kurosawa Kinko I (1710-71).

    This performance may not be exactly the same as when it was composed, but in the Kinko style honkyoku were strictly defined from comparatively early stages and notated, and therefore, the basic melody of "Shika no tone" has hardly changed. This is a rather exceptional phenomenon in the world of koten honkyoku, in which flexibility and freedom are main ruling factors.

    As shown in the original title ("distant call of deer"), this piece describes the cry of a deer echoing deep in the mountains in autumn. In ancient literature, it was sometimes said, "the stag and hind are calling each other." but in fact the hind does not cry, so it should perhaps be interpreted as the echo of the stag's cry. There are many repetitions in the original version and so as to catch the true charm of the call and response, shortened versions are usually performed.

Shakuhachi - Yamaguchi Goro Yamaguchi Goro


Shakuhachi Banquet Fukuda Teruhisa

Shakuhachi Koten Honkyoku Shusei - 1 Aoki Reibo II

Shakuhachi no Shinzui-Shakuhachi Honkyoku - 10 Yamaguchi Goro

Shakuhachi no Shinzui-Shakuhachi Honkyoku - 11 Yamaguchi Goro

Shakuhachi Nyumon Yamaguchi Goro

Shakuhachi Tokusen Aoki Reibo II

Shakuhachi Tokusen - Araki Kodo III Araki Kodo III

Shika no Tone Shakuhachi Koten Meikyoku Shusei - 1 Yokoyama Katsuya

    (The distant call of the deer)

    This is the most popular pieces of classical Honkyoku played on the Shakuhachi. It is unique in Honkyoku music for the following reasons:

    1. Most of the classical Honkyoku music originated from religious traditions or rituals, but this piece is an exception - its origins are not religious.

    2. Honkyoku is generally played by a solo Shakuhachi, but this piece was always intended to be played in two parts.

    As the title suggests, it features the mating call of the deer as it is heard during autumn in the picturesque scenery of the mountains.

Song of Daybreak Bruce Huebner


Sound of Distant Deer Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin

    This is perhaps the most famous of all the Honkyoku (Zen Buddhist original music for Shakuhachi). The time is Autumn, it is the mating season, and from two different mountain tops in the ancient city of Nara, a male and female deer are calling to each other.

Souvenir of Japan - Shakuhachi Fuhin Yamaguchi Goro

Sui Zen - Blowing Meditation on the Shakuhachi - 04 Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin

    This piece may be the most beautiful and famous of all shakuhachi pieces, and is among the standard listening requirements for Japanese junior high school students. There are many variations of this piece in the Meian (Shimpo and Taizan) Schools in Kyoto, although the Meian piece is so different as to appear to be a separate work. The Kinko School version played here, which Kinko Kurasawa got about 200 years ago from a priest, lkkei (or lkkeishi) in Nagasaki, has a richer variety of melody than most Kinko works.

    This is such a popular performance piece that it has become customary for virtuosos to use it to demonstrate their individual style, with clearly discernible signature variations and ornaments. This might not actually be as much of a departure from tradition that it appears to be. Though it was transcribed in Kinko style in the late 18th century, it is said to have been was one of the pieces that komuso would play to identify themselves and expose imposters (maisu). Each komuso group had its own distinctive style of playing, so that a person's origins were discernible in his style. Thus, performing this piece to demonstrate a unique style would be fully in keeping with the tradition of the piece.

    Shika No Tone can be considered a form of program music, taking its theme from the yearning call of a stag for a mate toward the end of autumn. The sound of the deer can be heard in the descending staccato phrases that occur toward the end of the piece, with the introduction of a characteristic technique incorporating explosive breath and tone combinations, called muariki.

    Shika No Tone, however, is not only about deer. It also expresses a special sense of the season, the scenery and mood of isolated mountains in the autumn, as depicted in the ancient Tanka-style poem:

    Far up the mountain side
    While tramping over the scarlet maple leaves,
    I hear the mournful cry of the wild deer;
    This sad, sad autumn tide.

    Shika No Tone is exceptional among classical shakuhachi honkyoku, as most are played in solo performances (though Sanya Sugagaki and Akita Sugagaki have also been scored as duets.) This piece, however, was originally written for, and is most frequently performed by, two shakuhachi, in yobikaeshi or call-and-response style. When played as a duet, one player's melody often starts before the other player ends, creating a sense of urgency and heightening sense of excitement. The piece can also be performed as a solo, without the overlapping of melodies. The solo performance tends to be more tranquil and atmospheric, rather than interactively dramatic.

Tajima Tadashi Shakuhachi no Sekai III Tajima Tadashi

Take-Ikkan Aoki Reibo II


The Road of Hasekura Tsunenaga Rodrigo Rodriguez

    Arrangement by Kohachiro Miyata


Words Can't Go There John Kaizan Neptune

World of Shakuhachi Yamaguchi Goro

World of Shakuhachi, The Yamaguchi Goro

World of Zen Music, The - Saji Nakamura Akikazu

    This piece portrays deer calling to one another across a valley. It is a highly unusual piece within the context of the komuso repertoire as a whole; while solo performance is the rule in the music of the komuso, this piece is generally played as a shakuhachi duet.

    The piece consists of two main sections. In the first section the two instruments play separate melodies, and a climax is reached centering on tempo and dynamics. In the second section, the two instruments play in unison until shortly before the end of the piece, when they play completely different melodies which lead the piece to its final climax.

    In comparison with most other pieces in the shakuhachi repertoire, Shika no tone incorporates a large number of wide leaps and sudden changes from tone colours with a broad overtone structure to those with few overtones. This results in a highly tense and distinctive sense of rhythmic and temporal contrast (ma).

    The version of Shika no tone presented on this disc is that associated with the Kinko school of performance and its full title is Yobikaeshi shika no tone (The far sounds of deer calling to one another). The piece is said to have been learnt by Kurosawa Kinko (1710-71), founder of the Kinko school, from a komuso priest named Ikkeishi. Different pieces with the same title have been transmitted in the Myoan Shinpo and Myoan Taizan schools in Kyoto.

Zen - Katsuya Yokoyama - 01 Yokoyama Katsuya

    (The distant call of the deer)

    This is the most popular pieces of classical Honkyoku played on the Shakuhachi. It is unique in Honkyoku music for the following reasons:

    1. Most of the classical Honkyoku music originated from religious traditions or rituals, but this piece is an exception - its origins are not religious.

    2. Honkyoku is generally played by a solo Shakuhachi, but this piece was always intended to be played in two parts.

    As the title suggests, it features the mating call of the deer as it is heard during autumn in the picturesque scenery of the mountains.


Zen Music - II Notomi Judo I

    This is one of the best-known pieces in the classical shakuhachi musics. It symbolically depicts behaviors of deer, it is said, contrary to the common nature of many other classical shakuhachi pieces which served functionally in the religious rituals. It deals with a pair of female and male deer that call each other deep in the mountains in autumn. It is therefore further thought to express the human marital love. Deer calls are to be heard realistically, at least to some extent, in the descending melodies in staccato near the end of the piece.

    In this recording, the first performer is Haruhiko on the right channel, and the second Judo on the left. This performance is often played in solo. Another fact of performance practices to be noted is that repeat signs for small portions in the traditional notation are seldom strictly observed any more, as is understood in this particular performance.


Zen Shakuhachi Duets John Singer


The International Shakuhachi Society - 2017