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Spirit of Dusk, The

Spirit of Dusk, The

Iwamoto Yoshikazu
Buda Records - 92734-2
1999

Track Title Kanji Length Shakuhachi Shamisen Koto
1 Reibo (Dokyoku) 霊慕 10'04 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

The komuso (priests of nothingness) in the Edo period (1603-1868) in Japan adored legendary Fuke who, ringing a handbell, roamed in the streets of the 9th century China. His deeds (seeming eccentric and wild) as recorded in the famous Zen literature "The Record of Rinzai" (1120), were a constant source of inspiration for the komuso. His last anecdote goes:
When Fuke was about to die he went alone outside the city walls and laid himself in the coffin he had carried on his back. He asked a passing traveler to nail down the lid. The news spread at once and the people of the market rushed to his coffin. On opening it they found that Fuke's body had vanished, but from high up in the sky they heard the ringing of his handbell, resounding faintly and then dying away.
In "Reibo" (Longing for the Bell), the aspiration of the komuso musicians towards the diminishing sound of Fuke's handbell seems to be relived.
2 Yugure 夕暮 16'49 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

Hardly any word would be necessary to explain this piece. It is tranquility of the mind that is pursued here. The piece is among the very popular pieces in the Kinko tradition, ever since Kinko Kurosawa (either 1st or 2nd) compiled it into his own repertoire in the first part of the 18th century.
3 San'ya (Dokyoku) 三谷 11'26 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

In the calmest expression of "San'ya" (Mountain Valley), the komuso musicians crystallized their spiritual journeys towards the eternal land of peace.
4 Kumoi Jishi 雲井獅子 05'37 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

This light piece is said to have been played by the komuso often as a divertissement between serious performance practices.
5 Shin Kyorei 真虚霊 17'00 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

To the komuso's mind, the two words, "spirit" and "bell", were mutually transferable, due to their phonetic identity, "rei". Thus the current piece can also be called "Empty Bell". Certainly, this bell refers to the handbell of Fuke the sound of which the komuso heard in emptiness (non-conditioned state of being). The term "shin" (in square style) at the beginning of the title suggests that there are other styles of "Kyorei" such as 'gyo" (cursive) and "so" (more cursive).

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2017