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Banshiki Cho


This is a piece of genre Koten from the Kinko Ryû - 琴古流 School.

History (John Singer):

This piece is also called "Banshiki No Shirabe". Banshiki Cho appears as a prelude to the piece "Shin Kyorei" when, in actuality, it is played as the prelude "Banshu No Shirabe" (a piece of the late fall) to the piece "Shika No Toneh" (The Distant Sound of Deer; A Depiction of The Late Fall Mountain). The term "Banshiki" is a descendant of "Banshiki Cho", the sixth mode based upon the B natural of ancient Gagaku, which is a mode for winter (it should be noted that the idea of pitch or scale corresponding to the seasons was transmitted through the music of the Hitoyogiri. Among the Kinko Ryu Honkyoku, the piece Banshiki Cho is the only such surviving example.

Although a short piece, Banshiki Cho is well organized and it is counted as an independent Honkyoku. The piece can be divided into two parts. The first and second halves are almost identical melodically although the octaves differ respectively.

Banshiki Cho appears on the following albums

Complete Collection of Honkyoku from the Kinko School - Vol 1 - Disc 1 Aoki Reibo II

Jin Nyodo No Shakuhachi 03 Jin Nyodo

    Kinko-ryu: BANSHIKI-CHO

    1-shaku 9-sun
    4 min. 17 sec.

    1. About the title:

    In Kinko-ryu the name of this piece is read as Banshiki-cho (emphasis on cho); Jin Nyodo also passed on this pronunciation. Pronounced this way it sounds like one word, but as it was originally a maebuki i.e. an introductory piece (according to the book Kokin Techo), it could also be explained as meaning Banshiki-no-shirabe. The ri-tone on a 1-shaku 9-sun flute corresponds to the tone banshiki (=b).

    2. Structure of the piece

    The form is [A (KO) - B (KO) - A' (RO) - B" (RO-KO)]. In section A the melody climbs gradually within the second octave from the bottom to the highest tone. Section B begins in the midrange of the second octave, but this time the melody gradually descends. Section A, is the same melody as A played in the first octave. In section B', the first half of B is repeated in the first octave and the second half of B is repeated in the second octave. Not just in this piece, but in Kinko-ryu honkyoku in general, entire dan or the melodies which form their units are repeated to suit the performance, but on this recording there are no such repeats.

    3. Special features of the piece:

    The tone banshiki was traditionally the note of autumn, the note of sadness. In Kinko-ryu this piece is also used as an introduction for Shin-Kyorei and Shika-no-Tone.

Shakuhachi no Shinzui-Shakuhachi Honkyoku - 04 Yamaguchi Goro

Take-Ikkan Aoki Reibo II

True Spirit of Emptiness, The Andreas Fuyu Gutzwiller

    This piece is played as an introduction to the piece Shin Kyorei. Banshiki is the note on the Sino-Japanese musical scale that corresponds roughly to our B. On the instrument played here, however, a shakuhachi two foot long, it sounds like B flat.

Zen Music with Ancient Shakuhachi - Disc 1 John Singer

    Also known as “Banshiki No Shirabe”, this piece was originally played as a prelude to other Honkyoku but has become an independent piece due to its fine compositonal structure.

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018