Making & Repair

Thorsten Knaub Connecting the pieces: shakuhachi nakatsugi making – Making & Repair 1

The session on the making of the nakatsugi (middle joint) of a jiari shakuhachi covers aspects of basic processes involved and tools used. Useful for anyone who wants to make or repair shakuhachi or is simply curious about an aspect of the construction of their instrument. 

Perry Yung – Making & Repair 2

Perry Yung’s talk includes a demo presentation on how to approach shakuhachi restoration on antique instruments. Includes views on tuning, playing and materials used.


Film: David Neptune Words Can’t Go There – Pre-event film, 18 July

John Kaizan Neptune was a young California surfer when he discovered the shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese bamboo flute, which changed his life forever. As an outsider in 1970s Japan, he dived into tradition headfirst and blew open the potential of this ancient instrument in a way only he could have. Directed by his son, this inside story delves deep into the life of an artist and what it cost him to cross cultural borders and become a pivotal figure in the evolution of this rare art form. 


Born and raised in Japan, David is an award-winning documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles. David attended Brooks Institute of Photography to study Film and Video Production and began directing new media content including What Kind of Asian Are You?, and But We’re Speaking Japanese, which sparked discussions about race and culture online – the videos have 60 million views combined. In 2019 he completed directing his first feature length documentary film Words Can’t Go There about his father John Kaizan Neptune who traveled to Japan in the 70’s and became a prominent figure in traditional Japanese music. It premiered at Warsaw International Film Festival and went on to will Best Feature Documentary award at The Valley Film Festival in Los Angeles. David worked as a story producer for Street Food on Netflix, Truth Be Told: Rick Ankiel on Fox Sports, and Marvel’s 616 on Disney+. He is currently story producing the docuseries Beyond the Spotlight on HBO Max. 

Bruno Deschênes – Explorations 1

A number of Japanese shakuhachi masters convey in their teaching that the melodies of honkyoku pieces are tone-colour melodies. Bruno Deschênes will present few aspects of shakuhachi playing that should be viewed as tone-colour, not notes.

Videos – Explorations 2

World Shakuhachi Festivals: Bisei, Japan 1994 and London, UK 2018
     A rare opportunity to view performance footage of the 1. World Shakuhachi Festival in Bisei, Japan (1994).
     Selected clips featuring Yokoyama Katsuya, Araki Kodo V, Aoki Reibo II and Yoshikazu Iwamoto.
     There is a special focus in the selection on Iwamoto’s performance of Frank Denyer’s composition ‘Winged Play’ which was also performed in 2018 WSF in London by Kuroda Reison.

Kiku Day – Explorations 3

Kiku Day walked the iconic pilgrimage Shikoku88 in 2019. Shikoku88 is a 1200 km pilgrimage founded in the 9th century by Kūkai or Kobo Daishi, the monk who founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism in Japan. For a shakuhachi player it can be a great opportunity to incorporate the playing of the instrument with spiritual practice. Kiku will talk about her experiences on her pilgrimage and what playing shakuhachi meant for her personally and for her contact with other pilgrims on the route. Photos and videos will be shown during the talk, and there will time for questions and conversations.

Film: Katsuya Nonaka Future is Primitive – Explorations 4

This movie features shakuhachi and skateboarding, but the story is not just about them. You will see how modernization has affected not only cultures but also our very lives.

Nonaka Katsuya studied koten honkyoku on jinashi shakuhachi with Okuda Atsuya. Nonaka is active as a performer of koten honkyoku not only in Japan but also abroad. He is furthermore active as a teacher and organic rice farmer.
     Nonaka directed the documentary film ‘Future is Primitive’ on skateboarding and shakuhachi playing. It had premiere across Japan in 2015 and in 2016 it was screened and acclaimed in the U.K, Croatia and in China. ‘Future is Primitive’ is now available in DVDs (KINARI) and books (Ningen Sha).
     He is a member of the group ‘Seppuku Pistols’. They appears in Toyoda Toshiaki’s short film “Wolf’s Calling” ( and Nonaka’s shakuhachi improv is also featured. Last year Seppuku Pistols released LP including Nonaka’s solo shakuhachi piece ( 

Nick Bellando Shakuhachi and tone colour from the perspective of prayer / meditation and Edo-era shakuhachi construction – Explorations 5

Why do Myoan players play ‘out of tune?’ This question has been a major theme in Nick’s search for his own shakuhachi sound over the years; part of the ‘answer’ lies in the prominence of tone color in shakuhachi. As a supplement to Bruno’s talk on the theme, he will be discussing shakuhachi and tone colour from the perspective of prayer/meditation and Edo-era shakuhachi construction.

Videos – Explorations 6

Thorsten Knaub Listening Station
     Listening Station intertwines video footage of the abandoned US listening station on the outskirts of Berlin with site-specific improvisation performed on shakuhachi in the building itself to create a multi-layered exploration of the building and its ambience. The long decay times inherent to the main dome weave together sonic sketches and tonal colours as cut by cut we move closer to the station and more detail about the structure and its setting is revealed to us.

1. World Shakuhachi Festival in Bisei, Japan (1994)
     Further clips of the 1.World Shakuhachi Festival in Bisei, Japan (1994). Here we encounter non-traditional experiments with shakuhachi – Nakamura Akikazu’s circular breathing and performance with backing track as well as the duet of Yokoyama Katsuya & Richard Teitelbaum exploring the interplay of shakuhachi and sampler/synthesiser sounds.

Gunnar Linder Poetry and Poetics,The art of the jiuta-sōkyoku (sankyoku) song-texts – Explorations 7

The song-texts in the jiuta-sōkyoku genre vary from stories about unhappy love, odes to the beauty of nature, pieces to be played at felicitous occasions and requiems. Some of the songs are quotes from classic literature, some were written at the time. This lecture gives a background and attempts to expand on the content of the song-texts.Today, hundreds of pieces are still being performed. Counting pieces that were composed for the string instruments in the early 20th century the number is close to a thousand pieces, of which around 650–700 pieces were composed during the approximately 300 years from the early 17th to the late 19th century.For shakuhachi players it is of course important to understand the content of the song, and the hope is that this lecture will give some insights into the poetry of jiuta-sōkyoku.


Jim Franklin How a large-scale composition for shakuhachi can work – Composition 1

Focuses on composition techniques and structure of Jim Franklin’s 1-hour long ‘Songs from the Lake’ (NEOS 12029) for shakuhachi and live electronics, and discusses how these are specifically tailored to the shakuhachi. Reference will be made in particular to the third movement, ‘Fluid Convex’.
     Teaching materials: some diagrams, musical examples etc will be sent for distribution prior to the class.

Panel discussion: ‘What is this stuff?’ Shakuhachi performers talk about working with new music for shakuhachi – Composition 2

Panel: Horacio Curti, Kiku Day, Jean-François Lagrost; Chair: Jim Franklin
     Performers with substantial experience of performing new music for shakuhachi discuss their reasons for their interest in new music and their methods for approaching a new piece and bringing it to performance. During the session, interaction and discussion with Summer School participants is encouraged.

Mike McInerney Compositions for shakuhachi by Frank Denyer – Composition 3

Analysis and discussion of two compositions for shakuhachi by Frank Denyer:
Winged Play (1984) and After the Rain (1983)

Panel discussion: ‘Why bother?’ Composers discuss the need for new music for shakuhachi – Composition 4

Panel: Frank Denyer, Marisol Jimenez, Verity Lane, John Palmer; Chair: Jim Franklin
     Composers who have substantial experience of composing for shakuhachi discuss their reasons for feeling the need for new music for shakuhachi, and their approaches to creating such music. During the session, interaction and discussion with Summer School participants is encouraged.