John Singer specializes in the performance of the Zen music (called Honkyoku in Japanese) which derives from the ancient tradition of the Komuso (wandering priests) who used the shakuhachi as a tool in their religious practices. These mendicant monks were well known for wandering and playing the shakuhachi and their history can be traced back to Japan's Muromachi period (1338-1573 A.D) It is often said that Zen music represents the true essence or "soul" of the shakuhachi. John also specializes in the performance of traditional Japanese ensemble music where the shakuhachi is combined with the stringed instruments called the Koto and Shamisen. This genre of shakuhachi music (called Sankyoku in Japanese) began as early as the 16th century and has been continually developing to this day.
The Shakuhachi is a Japanese end-blown bamboo flute. The name shakuhachi is derived from the term "isshaku hassun" which means one shaku and eight sun (1.8 Japanese feet). Even though the term shakuhachi refers to the standard size instrument (54.5 cm in length), it can refer to many different sizes ranging from 1.3 shaku (39.4 cm) to 2.5 shaku (75.7 cm) and longer. The shakuhachi is made from the root portion of a thick-walled bamboo called madake in Japanese. Though simple in appearance, the shakuhachi is very difficult to play; its magical quality is revealed to the listener by the purity of its tone. John has written an article on appreciating fine shakuhachi and obtains the finest instruments for sale.
To see John Singer perform on YouTube see videos below:
Performed by John Singer: Honte (basic melody) and Yamato Shudo: Kaete (alternate melody) in Kita Kyushu, Japan in May of 2009.
Master Shakuhachi Flutist John Singer performs the Nezasa Ha Kinpu Ryu "Honkyoku" (Zen Buddhist piece) "Sagari Ha" (Falling Waves or Falling Leaves) using a rare Historical 2.1 length Komuso Shakuhachi.
This is a performance of the traditional Japanese ensemble piece "Zangetsu. This video was taken at Master flutist John Singer's concert at the Kioi Hall in Tokyo on 06/11/2005. Master musician Hiroe Yonekawa is performing on the Shamisen and John is, of course, performing on the Shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) using the famous personal concert instrument of Araki Baigyoku (the 4th).
To see more video footage related to John Singer, click here.
NOW AVAILABLE: "KOKAN SHAKUHACHI HONKYOKU: ZEN MUSIC WITH ANCIENT SHAKUHACHI ": JOHN SINGER"S NEW DOUBLE CD OF KINKO AND KOTEN HONKYOKU USING ANCIENT HISTORICAL EDO AND MEIJI SHAKUHACHI
John Singer's Shakuhachi music was used in this compelling Tsunami Documentary