Flutes Riley Lee Articles

What sort of flute do you need in order to play Watazumi Dokyoku?

Someone recently was quoted as saying, “you can’t play Watazumi dokyoku songs properly without a very good flute,” and that “flutes that other people have aren’t up to the task.” It was pointed out that this wasn’t really egalitarian, as not everyone can afford a “very good flute.”

I cannot see the rationale behind these statements. I think one would agree that Watazumi himself played the Watazumi dokyoku ‘properly’, yes? As many know, Watazumi made the point, more than once, to play all sorts of flutes, including pieces of lousy bamboo, flutes made by kids, etc.

In fact, Watazumi’s way of looking at things is less egalitarian than the opinion stated above. Anyone can buy, to give two examples of what are considered good flutes and are very expensive, a Miura or Rampo flute if they really work and save enough money. It is not that difficult to save up for one of these flutes. They cost much less, for example, than most new cars and look how many new cars are sold worldwide each year.

In contrast, most people (nearly everyone!) no matter how much time they spend practicing, will never, ever, play dokyoku ‘properly’, that is, as Watazumi played them, especially on any old piece of bamboo! One can’t get more elitist than that!

The game, as far as I can see it, is not about good, better and best flutes. It is about making do with what you have, including whatever flute you have, but also your own self, for example your lips, lungs, patience, ability to concentrate, intelligence, hearing, memory, finger coordination, sense of rhythm, etc., etc. That’s what I think.