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The International Shakuhachi Society

Reiner Wehrenfennig

Wehrenfennig, Reiner
Born 1955.09.29


My profession is software engeneering in the german pension fond. I play Shakuhachi for fun.

Starting Shakuhachi after starting western traverse flute in 1992. Before that time I intensively played guitar (rock,folk, jazz)and sung a lot. Some experience happened with trumpet and jazz harp like Toots. Meeting trumpet was a funny thing told later on.

Starting with folk heroes like Donovan and Joan Baez in my early days (about 12 years old)I proceed to rock music hearing Emerson Lake and Palmer, later the great guitarists Alvin Lee (Ten Years After), Eric Clapton and Ritchie Blackmore take influence on me. Groups like Collosseum, Blood Sweat and Tears, United Jazz and Rock Ensamble slowly changed me from rock to jazz.

Then it was the brasilian guitarist Baden Powel who greatly take influence on me. Then the great Jazz guitarists come in: Joe Pass, Herb Ellis,Kenny Burell, Wes Montgomery and a lot more. A special event was Charlie Byrd: my aunt was requesting me for a birthday present i would like to have - I answered: Charlie Byrd (Guitarist). What I get was Donald Bird (Trumpet).

No I was switched to jazz bebop and trumpet.

After that guitarists like John McLaughlin come across with "My Goals beyond" which let me enter the spiritual aspcects of music by reading the poems of Sri Chinmoy on the cover. Later I spent many years in spiritual questions answered like in Fourth Way (Gurdjieff), Advaita, Buddhism, psychological Christianity, Sufism and Kabbala etc.. Later other experiences brought me to the ashram in India where Sri Chinmoy started his career: Sri Aurobindo Ashram later on.

Then for a long time - getting more involved into business and family - no music was and could be done at all - until a friend tries to play saxophone. I was playing mouth harp jazz at that time because of less time to practice other intsruments. His playing was awful because of his hearing qualities. Up to that time I was autodidactic on all intruments hearing all musical stuff from LPs (all the complicated accords of jazz guitar where constructed by myselfe from only hearing and play back famous jazz interpretations and improvisations from great jazz guitarists - do you now how to grip a Es minor 7/-9/+11?). But my friend was the opposite. So I adviced him because of his problems with intonation to choose western traverse flute. A week later he got a flute - but I put it away from him because I was fascinated by myself again: ...trying to play Paul Horn "In Taj Mahal" - india was fascinating to me at that time too. Few month later I spend 6 weeks with my family (I have a wife and two sons)in a spirituel project called Auroville which was founded by Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa. The Project is connected to the Aurobindo Ashram Pondycherry near Chennai south India. This connects me to the Integral Yoga. Today I again follow Advaita which is given by Dr. Vijai Shankar on the Academy of Absolute Understanding - a truly realized human being.

After meeting flute I soon start to take lessons by a profession flute teacher - before I only have few lessons in jazz harmony by a few local jazz guitarists.
She was very skillful and is teaching on the University for Music in Stuttgart: Antje Langkafel.

There the miracle happens: one day my flute teacher comes with a book of Carl Abbott "Blowing Zen" in Hand and was sure that I would have told here that I was interested in ancient flutes - that wasn't true at that time but anyway I took the book at home and again something take me away. Soon I got my first notes out of it getting a toolkit (plastic pipe) from Dan E. Majers. Later I bought from him my first bamboo shakuhachi.

From that time a struggle began - flute traverse or shakuhachi. Because they need different embouchurs it often was very painful for me to take decisions.

My next inspiring flute teacher who was the teacher of Antje Langkafel too was a great one working hidden in the local scene I live. Wolfgang Georg Schultz who earlier - before I entered shakuhachi - writes a manuscript for the ISS Anals about the Tao Te King from the view of a
breathing pulsing energy field. It was never printed - don't know why - may be Dan E.Majers don't appreciate it enaugh - but it was a very deep and profound work about the close connectedness of all periodic processes in all things one can observe. This teacher has a bamboo shakuhachi too but it was in a terrible state: because he is a western flutist and have had some fear about his embouchure he let this bamboo being modified by a western flutemaker: he puts some plastic to the blowing edge to get some support tom the bottom lip. But because of that the shakuhach brokes and was not playable any more. Because I was in Bolder (World Shakuhachi Festival)and met Mony Levenson there I soon after returning from the festival sent this instrument to him later and he does great work on repairing this instrument - as he does so often! After that we both - my western teacher and I blow the bamboo together - this was before I met im Franklin again in germany.

But here we are now: I play Flute, Shakuhachi, and latest again a little trumpet.

As I told in 1998 I visit the world shakuhachi festival in Bolder Colorado. There I took lessons with Goro Yamaguchi, Hozan Yamamoto and Katsuja Yokoyama. There I met Jim Franklin who after returning back in germany was my teacher further on. The first workshops with other students under his leadership were done in my house in Hemmingen near Stuttgart.

At that time I met Tony Clark again - a great Shakuhachi musician who studied with Yoshikazu Iwamoto - from the latter I took a weekend workshop together with Toni and Karen Anke Broun in Würzburg / Germany just before going to the Bolder festival. The Workshop was organized by Karen in a House of St. Benedict monastry which was administrated and used for zen sessions by Pater Willigis Jäger at that time who is a Zen master too. She accompanied me on my trip to Bolder and was a close student of Yoshikazu Iwamoto too.

Tony is faszinating for me: after hearing so great famous shakuhachi players I would say: Tony's playing strikes my heart at deepest - have you ever heard him playing "Ichi Iyo"?

In Bolder I met my heroe John Kaizan Neptune too. Most of his music I got and try to play it for my own anyway.....if you like to listen on YouTube Take Five on Shakuhachi from me, here is a link

Until today I have hold the german web site I decided now to delete all that stuff because today there are much more and better sites about shakuhachi and spiritual movements. So I go back to my essence which needs no image cultivation anymore..... except this one you currently have read.

Update in 2017: after spending several years on trumpet as well a decision was taken to stay with flutes. Currently I am trying to get familiar with the turkish Ney as well and my last passion now is playing Jazz on Alto Flute where I am trying to follow the great Sam Most. I found that "Ichi On Jobutsu" is an inward attitude which could be practised on any Instrument. So I practice over years in my basement Jazz Standards with my electronical iReal pro band on my iPhone and learning from the greates like Chet Baker and founding that Alto Flute matches very well what he was doing on trumpet.


The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018