Tuesday Mar 12, 2024

82: Elliot Kanshin Kallen plays the shakuhachi

This episode gets into every angle of a musical instrument you’ve, for sure, heard yet may not know what it’s called. 

Elliot Kanshin Kallen touches on the history of this Japanese flute, the emotions you can conjure from it, how it compares to other breath instruments, and, best of all, plays some notes for us a few times to make a point. We even talk a little Zen Buddhism (because it ties into the history and use of the instrument). 

The angle of the mouth ... how many holes and why ... its complicated popularity and disappearance in Japanese music over the centuries ... and where it shows up now ... it's all here.

This is a must-listen for fans of music and Japanese history. 

For further enjoyment: 

  • See Kallen play in this short video. 
  • Visit Kallen’s website here. 
  • Visit the International Shakuhachi Society, where Kallen is president and archive curator, here. 
  • If you’re in Sonoma County at the right, check out the Sonoma County Matsuri, a celebration of Japanese arts and culture in California. 
  • Kallen makes musical recommendations during this podcast, but here are a few in our conversation and some that didn’t make it in: 
  • Shakuhachi Music: A Bell Ringing in the Empty Sky from Yamaguchi Goro (Nonesuch)  
  • The Japanese Flute by Miyata Kohachirō (Nonesuch) 
  • Anything from Kallen's friend, Riley Lee, who jokingly says, if you’re in a place and hear New Age-y music with a shakuhachi, well, it’s probably him (website) 

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