Shakuhachi Honkyoku Kyorei 虚鈴

How to play your first Honkyoku

Jin Nyodo’s version of Kyorei makes for a perfect first Honkyoku because it remains in the lower 1st register Otsu, the deepest sound of the shakuhachi (the 2nd, higher register Kan is more difficult). Interestingly, there are very few classic Honkyoku which are only in Otsu. Jin Nyodo (1891-1966) arranged his version of Kyorei in the 20th century, thus it’s not one of the original, older Edo period Honkyoku which I focus on, but none the less a great piece.

Kyorei 虚鈴 – Jin Nyodo version

I created this score in the notation style of the Seien Ryu 西園流 because it’s the original Edo period source of Kyorei, from Fudaiji Temple 普大寺. The Seien Ryu is also usually the first style that I teach to my students after they’ve completed Jin Nyodo’s Kyorei. I’ve included the note charts on the right for reference if you need it. In case you skipped or missed the page on how to read these notes, you can find it here.

Just like my note charts, you’ll read Honkyoku from right to left, top to bottom. The diagonal ‘breath lines’ stemming out of the notes show the length you’ll hold a note (diagonal breath lines are unique to Seien Ryu and are called Takoashi fu or ‘octopus [leg] breaths’). The length is relative and you’d attempt to match me in lessons.

That covers the entire piece but to really deepen your understanding of it or to learn more versions of Kyorei, such as the original Seien Ryu Kyorei, contact me for a live shakuhachi lesson. Thanks for learning from me.