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The Shakuhachi, originally from China, is an end-blown Japanese bamboo flute. It was traditionally used as a meditation tool for the Fuke sect of Buddhist monks through their practice of suizen, or "breathing meditation." In this practice, a single note is often sustained for the length of of the breath, drawing the attention to the breath and to the frequency of the universe. History of the instrument, playing style and technique, and aesthetics will all be explored in this presentation through demonstration of pieces inside and outside of the Fuke Tradition. Kyorei, the oldest piece in the Fuke tradition, is said to be the ideal expression of suizen. Kyorei translates as "empty bell" and refers to the hand bell that Zen master Zenji would ring in the streets to attract villagers to his teachings. Contrastingly, a piece outside of the Fuke tradition such as Sanson no Yugure, or “Mountain Village at Dusk,” makes use of the full range and capabilities of the shakuhachi in a much more explosive style. With Sanson no Yugure, the skakuhachi carries the listener away to a small village just as the sun is fading behind a nearby mountain. It draws on the subtleties of the “in-between;” a time when neither day nor night is upon us; when the insects of the night begin to wake and the workings of the day begin to wane.
Lydia Snyder is a second year Master's student in Ethnomusicology at Kent State University. At Kent, she holds a teaching assistantship and is active in the Thai music ensemble. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Music as well as Studio Art and Theatre Arts from Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. Her research interests include traditional music of Japan as well as the music associated with ritual, trance, meditation and the brain. Ms. Snyder is a shakuhachi student of Grand Master Michael Chikuzen Gould.
Visiting scholars, Ke Li and Zhang Wei will present a brief review of Chinese music in antiquity with a concentration on the Guqin, an ancient seven-stringed bridgeless zither from China. Professor Ke Li will include performance of this instrument in her presentation along with extended discussion of its history and the significance of Taoist and Confucian studies to performance practice.
Ke Li and Zhang Wei are visiting scholars in ethnomusicology from Jiangxi Normal University in Jiangxi Sheng, China. Professor Ke Li is a professor of ethnomusicology and professional Guqin (ancient zither) musician. Professor Zhang Wei is a music historian, specializing in Chinese music history and culture.