Document Type



The difference between traditional and modern shakuhachi construction and tuning is significant in that it represents a paradigm shift in the psychological aim and embodied techniques employed in association with the instrument. Beginning in Edo-era Japan as an ostensibly religious instrument, the shakuhachi was at first played with a similar technique to its predecessor, the hitoyogiri, using the breath to modify pitch and giving priority to tone color. Coming into the modern era, the shakuhachi came to be used increasingly as a modern musical instrument; the resulting higher priority of pitch-precision brought about changes in construction and playing techniques that make the instrument better suited for performances and ensemble contexts. Tracing aspects of history, theory, technique, and tuning, including an analysis of traditional and modern tunings, the authors, both shakuhachi players, explore the differences between ancient and modern shakuhachi, showing that while both maintain certain fundamental characteristics, they differ greatly in psychological aim and playing technique.