The shakuhachi is one of the most popular Japanese wind instruments.
What is shakuhachi
The type of instrument is a longitudinal bamboo flute. Belongs to the class of open flutes. In Russian, it is also sometimes referred to as “shakuhachi”.
Historically, shakuhachi were used by Japanese Zen Buddhists in their meditation techniques and as a weapon of self-defense. The flute was also used among the peasants in folk art.
The musical instrument is widely used in Japanese jazz. It is also often used when recording soundtracks for Western Hollywood films. Prime examples include Tim Burton’s Batman, Edward Zwick’s The Last Samurai, and Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park.
Externally, the body of the flute is similar to the Chinese xiao. It is a longitudinal bamboo aerophone. At the back there are openings for the musician’s mouth. The number of finger holes is 5.
Shakuhachi models differ in formation. There are 12 varieties in total. In addition to building, the body differs in length. Standard length – 545 mm. The sound is also affected by the coating of the insides of the instrument with varnish.
The shakuhachi creates a harmonious sound spectrum containing fundamental frequencies, even when unusual harmonics are played. Five tone holes allow musicians to play DFGACD notes. Crossing the fingers and covering the holes halfway create anomalies in the sound.
Despite the simple design, sound propagation in a flute has complex physics. Sound comes from multiple holes, creating an individual spectrum for each direction. The reason lies in the natural asymmetry of bamboo.
Among historians there is no single version of the origin of the shakuhachi.
According to the main shakuhachi originated from the Chinese bamboo flute. The Chinese wind instrument first came to Japan in the XNUMXth century.
In the Middle Ages, the instrument played an important role in the formation of the Fuke religious Buddhist group. The shakuhachi was used in spiritual songs and was seen as an integral part of meditation.
Free travel near Japan was forbidden by the shogunate at the time, but the Fuke monks ignored the prohibitions. The spiritual practice of the monks involved constant movement from one place to another. This influenced the spread of the Japanese flute.