This project talks about the Zen aesthetics of the Shakuhachi, and the art of suizen. The word ‘sui’ means to play or create a sound on a musical instrument and is an alternative contemplation to the usual ‘zazen’ – a seated meditation which aims at emptiness and enlightenment. As a spiritual device of Zen Buddhism, the Shakuhachi’s importance is primarily considered to be this sound or suizen (‘blowing Zen’), which is not thought of as music or performance. Indeed, the aim is not to think ‘musically’ whilst playing.
The aesthetics of the shakuhachi render the term ‘performance’ an inaccurate way of describing the tradition. Shakuhachi practice is for personal Zen enlightenment, and not intended for an audience. When providing an analysis of this piece I am conscious of the fact I am looking at it from a western perspective. I have provided a transcription in western notation to help illustrate and communicate my points about the piece. When bar numbers are mentioned, I have written them as Caesura in the transcription.