Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Makoto Shinjitsu: Zen Meditation Music
On this collection of shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) pieces, Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin plays in the meditational style first developed by Zen monks, and the result is the perfect accompaniment to just about any quiet activity. Most of the pieces have a wandering melodic quality, accentuated on the title piece and on "Shizukesa" with shivering sustained notes. Certain pieces are evocative of natural sounds; "Daiwa-Gaku" sounds almost like the wind, while in places "(Ki-Sui-An) Sanya" reminds the listener of running water. "Five Minutes More" adds tiny tinkling bells to Seldin's flute, and "Jinbo-Sanya" is a more active, stronger piece. Makoto Shinjitsu isn't the sort of thing you have on while exercising or housecleaning, but it's just the thing for sitting--whether on your mat or in your car during rush hour.
Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin is a exclaimed american master of the shakuhachi, an end-blown 5-holed bamboo flute with a blowing edged notched at the end, unlike a baroque recorder with its blowing edge away from a fully enclosed mouthpiece (a fipple), the lips play an important role in allowing for an more expressive bending of the played note. Despite his excellent skills, I can't help feeling that his nuances are slightly off and that these pieces are less expressive and meditative than they should be. In a well played piece, a calm spirit should be transcended.