FAQ: How To Play The Shakuhachi?

Is the shakuhachi hard to play?

For beginners who are interested in learning to play the shakuhachi flute, the most common question is whether it is easy to play or not. Don’t worry. Playing the shakuhachi flute is not hard than people expect if they get the tip for it (though, of course, practice is needed as well as other musical instruments).

What notes can a shakuhachi play?


  • Shakuhachi range is about two and a half octaves.
  • The standard flute is in D, and the bottom note is D above middle C.
  • It has five holes and therefore plays a five-note (pentatonic) scale.
  • The five fundamental pitches are D, F, G, A, C.

What does shakuhachi look like?

Shakuhachi, a Japanese end-blown bamboo flute that was originally derived from the Chinese xiao in the 8th century. The shakuhachi’s blowing end is cut obliquely outward, and a small piece of ivory or bone is inserted at the edge so that subtle varieties of tone colour can be produced.

How much does shakuhachi cost?

As for more “ordinary” shakuhachi, they generally cost from $300 up. Not particularly expensive in comparison to Western instruments. It’s beyond the scope of this article to discuss the specific characteristics of shakuhachi made by individual makers.

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What is Okinawa Sanshin?

The Sanshin, meaning three-stringed instrument, is an Okinawan banjo-like instrument, based on the Chinese sanxian, that emerged in Japanese history in the 1700’s. Similar to the Japanese Shamisen, the Sanshin has three strings that are stretched over an (artificial) snake skin body, and wooden neck.

What does the koto sound like?

The library’s makers describe the Koto’s sound thus: ” It has a lightness of flying butterflies and the sputtering of fish, but has the strength of thunder.” I’d interpret that to mean that although it can sound delicate and pretty, the use of plectra adds an almost steely cutting edge.

How do you make a sound on a bamboo flute?

Position the blowing hole below your bottom lip so that it’s centered. Avoid putting the hole up to your lips. Instead, place the flute so that the hole is perpendicular to your bottom lip. When you blow, you’ll blow downward rather than straight out in front of you.

Who invented shakuhachi?

The bamboo end-blown flute now known as the ‘shakuhachi’ was developed in Japan in the 16th century and is called the fuke shakuhachi (普化尺八).

What shakuhachi should I buy?

For lessons, a 1.8 jiari shakuhachi is usually required. Beyond that, choosing a length is generally a matter of preference. Many people prefer the sound of longer jinashi instruments. I suggest keeping the length down to 2.5 or smaller, at least to begin with.

What key is shakuhachi in?

The flute is electronically tuned to the key of ‘D’, to Western Standard Pitch in the minor pentatonic scale. This allows you to play with other instruments, as well as making it ideal for studying the traditional solo Shakuhachi Zen meditation pieces of music.

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Who would usually use the shakuhachi?

By the 10th century, the instrument had become unique to Japan. While it was popular amongst the Japanese imperial court and played widely by the upper class, the instrument is most associated with the monks of Zen Buddhism, particularly the Fuke sect which used it for meditation.

What is the Japanese name for a bamboo flute?

Fue (笛/ふえ) is the Japanese word for bamboo flute, and refers to a class of flutes native to Japan. Fue come in many varieties, but are generally high-pitched and made of a bamboo called shinobue. The most popular of the fue is the shakuhachi.

Is shakuhachi an Aerophone?

The shakuhachi is an end-blown edge aerophone (flute) from Japan. Due to its versatility and variety of sound production, the shakuhachi enjoys wide use not only within traditional forms of Japanese music but also in art and international forms of music such as jazz and pop.

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