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The International Shakuhachi Society

Empty Sky - Yearning for the Bell Volume 3

Empty Sky - Yearning for the Bell Volume 3

"Volume 3 of the 7 volume "Yearning for the Bell" series."

Riley Kelly Lee
Tall Poppies - TP118
1998

Track Title Kanji Length Shakuhachi Shamisen Koto
1 Daha 打波 06'17 Riley Kelly Lee

Daha / Pounding Wave is a prayer for the will power or determination to achieve one's highest aspirations. There are times when strong, intense, and unyielding determinations, like the ocean waves pounding at the cliff face, is appropriate. Other times, gentle, patient and unceasing will power, like the quiet waves lapping at the base of the cliff, gives better results. This piece reflects both the Yin and the Yang of will power.
2 Yamagoe (aka Reiho) 鈴法 04'41 Riley Kelly Lee

Yamagoe / Crossing the Mountain is related to Daha in its theme. It is about facing a worthy task and completing it. The 'mountain' that is to be crossed may be that of developing a strong practice of consistent and contemplative meditation.
3 Choshi (Taizan Ha) 調子 04'51 Riley Kelly Lee

Honte Choshi / Original Searching is the 'main' or 'original' version amount the many short pieces that act as preludes or warm-ups. They are performed to re-establish the relationship between the player and the shakuhachi, that is most conducive to the state of mind necessary in meditation.
4 Tehodoki Reiho 手解鈴法 04'27 Riley Kelly Lee

Tehodoki Reiho / Initiation into the Dharma of the Bell refers to the bell of Fuke. The word tehodoki literally means 'leading one by the hand', that is, guiding a novice down the path.
5 Ryûmei Chô 龍鳴調 07'46 Riley Kelly Lee

Ryumei Cho / Cry of the Dragon is the only piece on this recording that is not a 'classical' honkyoku. This piece was composed by Sakai Chikuho I, the founder of the Chikuho lineage, in January, 1934. The piece evokes the majestic beauty, the mystery, and the supernatural powers of the dragon. The ryu, or Asian dragon, unlike the loathsome creature of European legends, is dangerous to humans only in the same way that the forces of nature can be, and in fact brings good luck to anyone who lays eyes on it.
6 Mutsu Reibo 陸奥鈴慕 11'53 Riley Kelly Lee

Mutsu Reibo / Yearning for the Bell of Mutsu Region belongs to the family of Reibo pieces, from which this series of recordings takes its name. The legendary 'father' of the honkyoku tradition, Fuke (ca. 9th C. China), did not play shakuhachi, but rang a rei (hand bell) instead. Though his disciples, Fuke's bell has come to symbolize enlightenment. "Yearning for the Bell" can therefore mean 'yearning for enlightenment'.
7 Kokû (Nezasa Ha) 虚空 (根笹) 16'52 Riley Kelly Lee

Nesasa Koku / 'Empty Sky' of the Bamboo Grass Sect, like all pieces of the Bamboo Grass sect, is noted for the use of a blowing technique called komibuki (crowded breath). This pulsating breath technique is considered an effective method of increasing one's concentration, and focusing one's energy. Empty Sky is the usual translation of Koku. It fails, however, to convey the meaning of the original Chinese characters, which refer to that which is neither 'empty' nor the opposite of 'full'. In other words, it pertains to the realm of the 'absolute', which by definition, cannot be known by the rational mind of the 'relative'.

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018