The name “shakuhachi” is translated as “1.8 shaku.” “Shaku ” is a unit of length, and “hachi ” means 8, thus the flute is basically 1.8 shaku long. However, this only refers to the flute that plays in the key of D minor. Many lengths and keys are possible and used today.
The oldest known evidence for bamboo flutes goes back to the ninth century BCE in China. However, there is much variation among bamboo flutes with regard to whether it is end-blown or side-blown, the number of holes, etc. In the sixth century the bamboo flute is known to have migrated to Japan. The shakuhachi as we know it today originated in the Fuke sect of Zen Buddhism.
Priests of Nothingness
Suizen, translated as “blowing Zen,” is a method of meditation. The basket on the head of the Fuke monk or priest, called komuso, is a well known image of the traditional shakuhachi player. These temple priests would walk the streets of towns begging for alms and playing their flutes.
Throughout Boots’ professional training he has pursued on-the-ground performance and composition experience through a long series of performing groups, and more recently, a robust solo repertoire. Since 1994 Boots has released 16 albums and composed and arranged 74 pieces for solo shakuhachi, 29 pieces for mixed woodwind chamber groups and 34 works for rock, funk and mixed electric ensembles. His composition catalog is in excess of 200 works, and growing. Since 2015 he has focused exclusively on the shakuhachi bamboo flute and it’s baritone brother, Taimu. He is currently creating solo, cross-cultural new music, merging the threads of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Watazumi, and Son House, and many more.
Cornelius is a Vandoren performing artist, a Mujitsu Shakuhachi and Chikuzen Studios affiliate, and a member of the International Shakuhachi Society, the World Flute Society, Chamber Music America, New Music USA and Save the Redwoods. He is currently (since 2014) enrolled in the Masters of Divinity program at Buddha Dharma University where he also teaches a course on the Taoist rascal-sage Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi), The Way of Zhuangzi.
Joining me will be Special Guest Peter Shiao of Immortal Studios. I’ve been a fan of his work since quite a bit before he founded Immortal Studios; publishers of the comics The Immortal Swordsman and The Adept, right here on kickstarter. We crossed paths via my work with KUNG FU TAI CHI magazine and his own endeavors with the original Shaolin Temple of China. He’s among a handful of luminaries doing the good work of bringing Wuxia to western audiences.