Irish Songs for Shakuhachi is a new collection containing 20 Irish songs in Tozan and Kinko notations. Many of these songs have been recorded by groups like The Dubliners, The Pogues, Planxty, The Bothy Band and De Danann and singers like Van Morrison, Christy Moore and John Cormack, to mention just a few.
The melodies include famous tunes such as 'The Derry Air' and 'Carrigfergus'. There are twenty scores in both Kinko-ryu and Tozan-ryu notation versions. The CD is no longer available but all tracks can be downloaded below. The MP3s also include 5 bonus tracks of melodies played on different instruments.
Celtic music sounds fantastic on shakuhachi. There is a vast repertoire of Irish melodies to choose from. Many of them were written in the last 300 years but some contain elements of music from more ancient times. There are references to music making in Irish language literature from as early as the 12th century. These refer to the important role of musicians in society and the emotional and magical powers of their music. There is a similar tradition of travelling blind musicians in both Japan and Ireland; the Japanese musicians of the Edo Era and the Irish pipers of the 19th century. The national symbol of Ireland is the harp, evidence of the importance of music to the identity of Ireland.
We are fortunate that the rich repository of melodies were transcribed and preserved from the 18th century. This is the same time that Kurosawa Kinko collected and transcibed his 36 honkyoku. The rhythm and energy of the dance melodies such as jigs and reels are known around the world. Many of these derived from older airs sung in a free meter. Some of these old style or sean nos airs are transcribed in this collection. They were originally for singing but are now often played on other instruments such as the fiddle, flute or uilleann pipes. I call these pieces 'Celtic honkyoku' as they come from the deep spiritual well of Celtic musics.
Irish music is usually played without notation. Repetition is an important feature which gives the musician room to shape the melody in different ways. The ornamentations are similar to atari, meri and muraiki in shakuhachi. The dynamics, mood and tone colour of individual phrases can be varied for each verse. Some of the pieces are rhythmic and others free in meter like the honkyoku.