Zachary Braverman Shakuhachi Concert
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Zachary Braverman playing a long shakuhachi -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 40 mm — 1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 3200 — full exif
Zachary Braverman
playing a long shakuhachi

A week ago a friend hosted a private shakuhachi concert by another friend, Zak Braverman. A shakuhachi is a bamboo flute that superficially looks a bit like a recorder, but its sound is very distinctively Japanese. Zak's main skill is in producing a pasta sauce to die for, but this day's event tapped into his minor talent of being one of the best shakuhachi players in the world.

Zak has appeared on my blog many times (such as here playing shakuhachi in an eclectic ensemble), but more often it's his kids Gen and Tamaki that appear.

After playing one piece in the living room, Zak decided to switch to the adjoining washitsu (traditional Japanese style room with tatami grass-mat flooring) for its better acoustics, which is what you see above. Shakuhachi come in a variety of sizes, and Zak used two during the concert; the picture above shows him playing very long one, more suited to some very old traditional pieces.

I brought along the audio recorder that I recently wrote about (here and here) to see what kind of recording I would get, but since I was recording the room and not the instrument (and maybe also because I don't know what I'm doing with it yet), the results are disappointingly hollow and one-dimensional. Still here are a couple of pieces of Zak on the Long Flute to at least give you a sense of the sound. The first is an old, traditional pure shakuhachi piece:

Click <a href="/i/s/Braverman-Shingetsu.mp3">here</a> to listen
Shingetsu · 心月
author unknown, circa “at least a few hundred years ago”
( Download here )

This next piece is a modern one with a melancholy sound, which I prefer to the piece above because I feel it's more expressive. This is likely because my rough un-artistic ways can't grasp the subtle nuances of art, but in any case, with these poor recordings, there aren't much in the way of nuances to grasp, so take them with a grain of salt.

Click <a href="/i/s/Braverman-Koka-no-Uta.mp3">here</a> to listen
Koka no Uta · Melody of the Koto · 胡笳の歌
original piece for Koto and Shakuhachi by Seihou Nomura, 1975
transcribed for solo shakuhachi by Zak's shakuhachi sensei
( Download here )

As I said, Zak is one of the best shakuhachi players in the world, so if Zak and I ever make a proper studio recording that accurately reflects the sound, I'll update these files.

All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

Jeffrey, Thank you for these two pieces. I really love the flute playng! I did my morning Tai Chi To them. 😀


— comment by Don Ricklin on March 10th, 2010 at 10:07pm JST (14 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,
What you’re hearing is the mix of the flute sound and the reflected room sound. Try putting the windshield on and recording closer to the flute.

The tunes are still haunting and beautifully played. I love the timbre of them.

— comment by Sean McCormack on March 12th, 2010 at 8:25pm JST (14 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

What a great thing to hear live in person. I never got to when I lived there. Ahh, this is the sound that I hear in my head when I’m practicing martial arts, or in the shower where I do my best thinking haha. Thanks for the audio clips!

— comment by Drew on March 13th, 2010 at 9:02pm JST (14 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink
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