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World of Zen Music, The - Shakuhachi Music from Tsugaru, Nezasa-ha Kinpu-ryu

World of Zen Music, The - Shakuhachi Music from Tsugaru, Nezasa-ha Kinpu-ryu

"Nezasa-ha Kinpu-ryu honkyoku."

Nakamura Akikazu
Denon - COCJ-30927

Track Title Kanji Length Shakuhachi Shamisen Koto
1   Shirabe (Nezasa Ha) 調 (根笹) 03'36 Nakamura Akikazu

The main meaning of the word shirabe in Japanese is "investigation", but the word is also used to mean "melody". However, in its original musical sense, the word denoted a piece which delved deep into the state of the performer, the state of bamboo, or indeed the state of the sentient universe. Such a piece served as a kind of prelude intended to achieve a sense of oneness with the world and the universe. This is the most basic piece employed in the austerities of the Fuke Zen sect and is performed as the prelude to every piece in the repertoire with the exception of Matsukaze.

It is a bold and vigorous piece imbued with unfathomable depth, pathos and desolation.
2   Sagari Ha (Nezasa Ha) 下り葉 (根笹) 03'32 Nakamura Akikazu

Waves rolling in and ebbing with surging energy are depicted employing the technique of "komi-buki". The title literally means "ebbing waves". The piece is reputed to have acquired this title through its association with an outstanding player belonging to the Nezasa school of shakuhachi performance who achieved enlightenment after hearing the sound of wind and waves blowing through a bamboo thicket. Another legend has it that the piece is intended to represent the sound of a festival performance group consisting of drums and flutes mounted on a festival cart gradually retreating into the distance.

This is one of the most energetic pieces in the repertory of the Nezasa school. But at the same time the delicate melody is one of great beauty. Despite its brevity, the piece fully conveys the features of the Nezasa school. It is thought to be the earliest piece in the school's repertory.
3   Matsukaze no Shirabe 松風の調 03'37 Nakamura Akikazu

4   Matsukaze (Nezasa Ha) 松風 (根笹) 06'32 Nakamura Akikazu

Matsukaze is considered to depict wind blowing through pine trees. It is invariably preceded by a prelude known as Matsukaze no shirabe. The piece has interesting historical associations. According to legend, Nyui Getsuei (1822-95) , who is generally considered to have established the Nezasa or Kinpu school in its modern form, played this piece in 1864 before Konoe Tadahiro, adviser to the emperor. Inspired by the performance he had just heard, Tadahiro composed the two following poems:

Melodies of bamboo
Ring forth
Evoking of their own accord
A mood of pure clarity
In the moon shade of night

A melody emerges
To reverberate
On an unplayed koto
Echoing through the eaves
The sound of wind among the pines

It is supposedly from these two verses that the names of Getsuei and Kinpu were taken, getsuei being an alternative reading of tsukikage, meaning "shade of the moon", and kinpu being a term related to the meaning of the second verse.

This is a highly refined piece with a clearly delineated formal structure.
5   Shishi 獅子 07'43 Nakamura Akikazu

The title of this piece refers to the lion as it is imagined in Chinese mythology. This piece is also known as "Manjusri", the name of the Bodhisattva of Supreme Wisdom, who is the left-hand attendant of Sakyamuni Buddha. Manjusri is conventionally depicted mounted on a lion, and it is from this image that the piece takes its title. The music is thought of as representing the lion-like energy of Manjusri's

Of all the pieces in the honkyoku section of the shakuhachi repertory, this is one of the most unconventional. It was originally performed by komuso itinerant monks as they collected alms. The piece shows evidence of influence from the flute music employed to accompany "lion dances" (shishi-mai).
6   San'ya Seiran 三谷清攬 12'39 Nakamura Akikazu

The word sanya is thought to originate in the Sanskrit term samadhi, meaning meditation or concentration on a single object with no distinction being made between subject and object.

This is a profound piece with a quietly narrative quality which suggests a journey from an esoteric inner world towards a universe of sublime tranquillity.
7   Tôri 通里 02'51 Nakamura Akikazu

This piece would have been played by monks of the Fuke sect as they wandered through villages collecting alms. It was considered to give monks of this sect access to Buddhahood.
8   Kadozuke (Nezasa Ha) 門附 (根笹) 03'26 Nakamura Akikazu

Monks of the Fuke sect would play Kadozuke as they wandered from door to door gathering alms. As on this disc, it is generally performed as one of a set of three pieces together with Tori and Hachigaeshi.
9   Hachigaeshi (Nezasa Ha) 鉢返 (根笹) 04'38 Nakamura Akikazu

Hachigaeshi is the last of the set of three alms-gathering pieces. After a monk had received rice or some other form of alms in his bowl, he would then play this piece in thanks for the charity bestowed upon him.
10   Nagashi Reibo 流鈴慕 08'04 Nakamura Akikazu

Nagashi Reibo is another honkyoku associated with the Kinpu school, nagashi referring to an irregular style of performance employed by monks when seeking alms. This is a florid, large-scale piece.
11   Kokû (Nezasa Ha) 虚空 (根笹) 11'50 Nakamura Akikazu

The shakuhachi in its current form is thought to have been introduced into Japan from China by the monk Kakushin in 1254. Koku is attributed in legend to Kakushin's pupil Kichiku. One day, when Kichiku was sleeping at the Kokuzodo temple on the peak of Mount Asama in Ise, he heard in his dream an exquisite melody which reverberated through the
clear sky over the seas. Together with Reibo and Mukaiji, Koku is one of the three pieces known collectively as "sankyorei" which are considered to be the central items and also the oldest in the honkyoku repertory. It is a solemn and dignified piece which the performer is expected to play in 117 breaths. The music is considered to represent the Buddhist principle of emptiness which embraces all phenomena. It also represents Akasagarbha, the bodhisattva of space, so called because his joy and wisdom are as vast as space itself.

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018