地無し尺八を鳴らす極意
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地無し尺八を鳴らす極意

写真の1.琴古流や都山流の尺八を吹くときの口の形状。何十年も 、この吹き方で慣れているので、いきなり太い地無し管を吹こうとしても音が出ません。まずは口の形状を変えることから始めて、それから逆腹式丹田呼吸法により、丹田の圧力を尺八の中にかけるようにします。写真2.基本的に舌先を下の歯の上にかぶせて、下唇の 先を押すようにして、歌口内部の隙間を埋めるようにします。こうすれば、ほっぺたは自然に膨らみ丹田からの息は、舌の上を流れるように尺八内部に出ていきます。太い尺八ほど、舌先で下唇を余計に押し出して、歌口内部の隙間を埋めることになります。写真3.ほっぺたが膨らみ、ブルドックのように、息を送るたびに、震えるようになれば、顔全体の力も抜け、口の中の息を自在にコントロールできるようになればそれぞれの材質の違う尺八の音味も吹分けることができます。地付き管ではメリ音の時は息も弱めますが、この奏法では、ノズルの方向を自在に変えるだけで息は、メリもカリも同じ強さになります。稽古の時に岡本竹外先生から、メリの時に息までメらないようにと指導を受けました。高齢になって地無し尺八の道に入られる方が多いですが、胸式呼吸のような無理な負担を体にかけずに、ただ丹田だけを動かして鳴らす、この奏法ならば健康に、竹の音味を楽しめます。 
従来の口先で吹く奏法(クリックで画像を拡大)
舌先で下唇うぃ絶えず押す(クリックで画像を拡大)
丹田の息をほほにためて押し出す(クリックで画像を拡大)

Essential points in playing jinashi shakuhachi

The photo no. 1 shows the shape of the mouth when playing in Kinko or Tozan school. When you have long years of experience in any of these schools and you shape your mouth accordingly, it will be very difficult to produce a satisfactory sound after suddenly taking up a wide-bore jinashi shakuhachi. First of all, you must begin with changing the shape of your mouth. The next step is to blow the air into the inside of the bore producing the sound from the energy coming from the lower part of your belly, using the reverse-abdominal breathing method.

The photo no. 2 illustrates how to position your tongue. As you can see in the photo, it is important to push out the lower lip with your tongue covering the teeth. You must make sure that the inner part of the mouthpiece (utaguchi) is firmly closed with the oval shape of your mouth. In this way breath coming out from the lower area of your belly will naturally inflate your cheeks and flow ever your tongue entering the bore. The wider is the bore, the easier it is to fill the inside gap of the mouthpiece by pressing out your lower lip with the tongue.

The photo no. 3 shows the inflation of the cheeks which resemble the cheeks of the bulldog. Every time you direct your breath and your facial muscles are not tense you will feel your cheeks naturally trembling. Once you manage to freely control your breath so that it fills the bore of shakuhachi you will also be able to taste the differences in sound when playing different kind of shakuhachi.

When you want to produce meri sound on jiari shakuhachi your breath too gets weakened but using the jinashi method of playing it is enough to freely change the direction of the nozzle and the breath has the same strength no matter if meri or kari. When you produce meri sound, as it was taught by my teacher Okamoto Chikugai, don't try to make meri in your breath.

In Japan there are many elderly people who after retirement take up jinashi shakuhachi and they often force themselves to produce a sound thus only tiring their body with lung breathing (having very often long experience of playing in Kinko or Tozan traditions). Instead, it should be remembered to soften your lower belly area so that it moves in and out freely without any artificial contraction when playing. In this way it is not damaging to one's health but quite the opposite, it has numerous health benefits and the player can enjoy the natural sound of the bamboo.