Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wandering Priests

Gentle heralds of a greater music to come.
At present, these folk arts are still a matter of local pride, but history has shown that such arts, though important stimuli for other forms, are themselves very susceptible to influence and change.  In modern folk music, the new factor is mass communication.  It is impossible to calculate the extent to which the medium is capable of helping or damaging things.  The communication centers may take over the functions of story-telling and entertainment, while advertising may usurp education.  Nevertheless, the ordinary person's need for self-expression and a close connection with the basic forces of nature will prove, perhaps, an antibiotic for this virulent infectiuon which seems to be decimating the folk arts of the world.  It is still too early for any firm theories.  The best we can do is to learn to appreciate the wonderful Japanese folk tradition as it is, encourage it whenever possible, and hope that history will treat it kindly.--Malm, 1959

The shakuhachi and its music are designed for introspection.  With a modicum of materials, the player can reap a harvest of quiet pleasures.  In a crowded and busy world, such simple means of refined musical recreation and relaxation are to be coveted by any culture.  Perhaps this is one of the most important intrinsic appeals of the shakuhachi today.