International Shakuhachi Society Logo

The International Shakuhachi Society

Zen Music - VI

Zen Music - VI

Yamaguchi Goro
Victor, Japan - SJL-2066

Track Title Kanji Length Shakuhachi Shamisen Koto
1   Ginryu Koku 吟龍虚空 14'49 Yamaguchi Goro

This is an arrangement of 'Koku', one of the oldest three pieces in Fuke sect shakuhachi. It was used as a ceremonial music. The original composition was being transmitted a Ichigetsu-ji Temple in Musashi. A man called Ginryu is said to have arranged it into the form as heard in this recording and taught it to Kinko Kurosawa (1710-1771).

Some people say that this piece depicts the flight of crying ryu, a fictitious, felicitous animal venerated in China and Japan.

There is a piece, of which title resembles to this: 'Ryugin Koku'. But it is a different piece, in which 'ryugin' simply denotes a tonal scale, shimomu-cho.

'Ginryu Koku' belongs to the Seventeen Ura Pieces in the repertoire of Kinko-ryu Honkyoku.

Kaede (counterpart) and solo as performed by Judo Notomi is to be heard from the left and Honte (principal part) by Goro Yamaguchi from the right.
2   Hoshosu 鳳将雛 11'42 Yamaguchi Goro

This piece was added to the Honkyoku repertoire in 1772 (Meiwa 9). The title name means young ho-o (phoenix). A special technique, korone, as can be heard in the beginning part is said to imitate the crying of the bird.

Ho is male and o female. And a young male phoenix, ho-su, usually represents a young, prominent person just as kirin-ji.

Ho-o is believed to be more felicitous than cranes and to appear only when a saint is in throne. Among the Honkyoku pieces it is regarded high in ranking and used to be ceremonial music.
3   Sokaku Reibo 巣鶴鈴慕 21'44 Yamaguchi Goro

Known popularly as "Tsuru no Sugomori (Nesting of a Crane)', it has the above formal title in Kinko-ryu. They say that it symbolizes the parental love of the bird. An old saying, 'Pheasants in the burning field and cranes in the night', expresses the idea of maternal love in that mother pheasants protect their babies from fire and mother cranes from coldness.

The music is programmatic, exceptionally to the general characteristics of Classical Honkyoku as a kind of absolute music. It depicts a scene of parent cranes departing from their children when they have grown up. The korone technique is onomatopoetically applied. The tabane technique is also used in describing the sounds of flapping.

It has twelve sections with frequent repetition of melodies and phrases, a few of which the performer omits as to this disk.

In former days many different versions of 'Tsuru o Sugomori' were being transmitted in komuso temples in various parts of the country. Nowadays, however, this version of 'Sokaku Reibo' of Kinko-ryu is most widespread.

'Sokaku Reibo', 'Shika no Tone', etc., are called gaiten-kyoku and are artistic in purpose rather than ceremonial or ritualistic as are other pieces.

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018