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NEMO-Online is delighted to propose this new article on modality in a very different way than what we have been used to: it is based on the absence of modes in part of the Japanese honkyoku repertoire, while composition is ruled mainly by the tone-color of the sounds (we do not dare write “pitches”) emitted by the shakuhashu player, at least in Traditional composition.
The article is written by Bruno Chikushin (his artist name) Deschênes, a musician and author of a book on the shakuhashi, himself a trained shakuhachi player. The aim of the article is to propose a musician’s point of view on the analysis of the repertoire. In order to propose another model for understanding this unique music, Deschênes expands on previous authors’ proposals and shows, in the final section, that some of these authors’ conclusions do apply to honkyoku music, while others do not. Although these authors present a relevant understanding of the melodic structure of honkyoku, Deschênes suggests that there is more to it than they propose, specifically highlighting two important aspects of this music that they miss, namely that playing shakuhachi has to do first and foremost with tone-color, not pitches, and that the melodic quality of each phrase and each piece is more in the melodic forms and contours created by the kakuontei and the kakuon than it is in the pitches (see the Glossary at the end of the article).
Bruno Deschênes: “A preliminary approach to the analysis of honkyoku, the solo repertoire of the Japanese shakuhachi,” Near Eastern Musicology Online 4 6 |2017-08| p. 123–143.