Michael A. Firman
Shakuhachi Information

About the Shakuhachi...

The Shakuhachi is a Japanese, end-blown, bamboo flute which I began learning in 1993. In the early 1970's, while I was in college, I became interested in the music of the French contemporary composer Olivier Messiaen. One of the recorded works of Messiaen that I owned at the time was a piece called "The Turangalila Symphony". The recording was an RCA Victor release with a (very familiar) Robert Indiana painting “Love” on the cover. It was a double album and contained another piece of music performed by the same orchestra and conductor (The Toronto Symphony/Seiji Ozawa). The piece was called "November Steps" and was written by the Japanese composer Toru Takamitsu. It was scored for Shakuhachi, Biwa, and Orchestra. Now, I had no idea what a Shakuhachi or a Biwa was at the time, but the music was beautiful, particularly a strange flute-like sound. The Biwa is a Japanese lute-like instrument and the Shakuhachi, as I've stated earlier, is indeed the flute-like instrument on the recording. I discovered, later when I became more knowledgeable on the subject, that the Shakuhachi player on that recording was one of the most skilled Shakuhachi masters of our time; Katsuya Yokoyama.

Many years went by, and it wasn't until the 1990's that I acquired my first instrument and began playing (and eventually,taking lessons with Michael Furuta.) Since then I've carried my flute with me on my excursions to Montana, Japan, and Mongolia.

Komuso Doll Playing Shakuhachi
Steve (a friend) and I performing a duet

1998 World Shakuhachi Festival

From July, 5 through July 10, 1998, I attended the World Shakuhachi Festival in Boulder Colorado. Please see some of the photographs taked at the Festival.

More photos can be found at Monty Levenson's Web site.

A very nice rendering of Yokoyama Sensei and a few of his followers by my friend Ikuko Miyahara Armandi.