Shakuhachi musical notation

Shakuhachi musical notation

Shakuhachi musical notation refers to the systems of transcribing playing instructions for shakuhachi music. The shakuhachi in Japan dates back to approximately 700 AD, though similar predecessor bamboo flutes from China and Korea can be dated to ancient times.

In addition to a strong verbal tradition of passing pieces down from teacher to student, the shakuhachi developed its own style of musical transcription necessary to write down the emphasized aspects of shakuhachi music. In contrast to Western staff notation, shakuhachi playing instructions commonly emphasize multiple timbres for a given pitch, microtonal slides between semitones, effects and modifications to a sustained tone, and specialized breathing techniques.

Some shakuhachi music, such as solo honkyoku ("original pieces"), is not strictly metered, but offers only suggestions for timing, breathing, and silence between phrases.

Modern shakuhachi music can be, and sometimes is, written using staff notation, especially during collaboration between shakuhachi and Western instruments.

Schools of notation

* Kinko-ryu
* Tozan-ryu
* Chikuho-ryu


* cite book
last = Mayers (editor)
first = Dan E.
title = The Annals of The International Shakuhachi Society, Volume I

* cite book
last = Mayers (editor)
first = Dan E.
title = The Annals of The International Shakuhachi Society, Volume II
date = 2005
isbn = 0-9711625-1-4

* cite journal
last = Berger
first = Donald Paul
title = The Shakuhachi and the Kinko Ryu Notation
journal = Asian Music
volume = 1
issue = 2
pages = 32–72
date = Autumn, 1969
publisher = Springer
doi = 10.2307/833910
url =
month = Nov
year = 1969

* cite journal
last = Lee
first = Riley Kelly
title = Fu Ho U vs. Do Re Mi: The Technology of Notation Systems and Implications of Change in the Shakuhachi Tradition of Japan
journal = Asian Music
volume = 19
issue = 2
pages = 71–81
date = Spring-Summer, 1988
publisher = Springer
doi = 10.2307/833867
url =

External links

* [ Examples of Chikuho-ryu notation]

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