Acoustical comparison of different types of shakuhachi

This is a comparison of ji ari, ji nashi, PVC shakuhachi and the western flute. The design of the ji ari shakuhachi reflects a change towards western instrument design to enhance response and tuning. This was also due to changes in the context of performance from outdoor/small rooms to large concert venues. The ji nashi shakuhachi follows the natural shape of the bamboo bore with no filler.

sonogram of shakuhachi with filler

Sonogram and sound file of ji ari shakuhachi.

sonogram of shakuhachi without filler

Sonogram and sound file of ji nashi shakuhachi.

sonogram of PVC shakuhachi

Sonogram and sound file of PVC shakuhachi.

sonogram of western flute

Sonogram and sound file of flute.

Comparing the different sonograms, there is variation between the richness of harmonic content, in particular the relative loudness of the fundamental. The main differences in harmonic content between the three types of shakuhachi used may be as much due to the manner in which each sound sample was blown. Adding more tension in the lips combined with a more focused air pressure increases the number of harmonics present. Another crucial aspect is aspect ratio or the relationship between length and diameter. The ji nashi shakuhachi used has a wider bore and hence is shorter (52cm) than the standard 1.8 shakuhachi.

The key discovery in comparing any type of shakuhachi with flute is that the shakuhachi is unique in terms of the temporal changes in spectral content in the time of a single tone.

Learn more about shakuhachi acoustics by following the links below: