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The Flute Portal Forums _ Free notation and instruction _ Ikkyu: Murasaki No Kyoku

Posted by: Dean Mar 22 2011, 04:06 PM

Zen Master Ikkyu (1394-1481) wrote this honkyoku, one of the most melodic of shakuhachi pieces. Here's the notation in beautiful calligraphy. Taizan-ha Sensei Morimasa Horiuchi plays Murasaki no Kyoku (Reibo) in his inimitable wind in the pines style on Youtube here at

Posted by: David Earl Mar 22 2011, 05:37 PM

Thanks Dean this is beautiful. Morimasa Horiuchi has a spirit to his playing that brings me to a very pure, traditional and integrated place each time I listen to him play.
Also lets give old man Ikkyu credit!
Very nice

Posted by: Gerard Mar 22 2011, 11:55 PM

Very special. The notation is difficult to read though wink.gif

Posted by: Dean Mar 23 2011, 04:39 AM

Try this notation chart (and you learn Czech while you're at it) It should help you get through most of it.Let me know how that works for you...

Posted by: mahler Mar 23 2011, 08:26 AM

Many thanks!!

Posted by: cloudsounds Mar 24 2011, 05:49 AM

Who's notation is that? Mori's or Ikkyu's or your's? If not Ikkyu's, is there a copy of Ikkyu's notation for this piece?

Posted by: Dean Mar 24 2011, 06:30 AM

QUOTE(cloudsounds @ Mar 24 2011, 05:49 AM) *
Who's notation is that? Mori's or Ikkyu's or your's? If not Ikkyu's, is there a copy of Ikkyu's notation for this piece?

David, if you can find Ikkyu's notation, please send me a copy wink.gif

Posted by: cloudsounds Mar 24 2011, 07:02 AM

Yeah I get it now..... laugh.gif
How can I get it before you when YOU are my source wink.gif

Posted by: Mark Pimenta Mar 26 2011, 02:04 PM

Thank you very much for posting this song, but I'm pretty sure it's not the full version of the piece, to the best of my memory there is at least one line missing. Is there any chance you could post the whole song? I've always thought Tomimori Kyozan's writing was so beautiful, it's been at least ten years, maybe more, since I've seen his writing, something you never forget. Also as far as it is my understanding it has never been proven that Ikkyu wrote the piece although it is said that it was his favorite song to play.

Domo - Arigato,

Posted by: Dean Mar 26 2011, 03:57 PM

Hi Mark, I don't think it's ever been proven that it was his favorite song to play, either. It's all just word of mouth and legend, but I dream it smile.gif And you know for sure he really didn't play a shakuhachi root end but a hitoyogiri, more of a heaven end blown flute than a root earth flute sound. Not sure where those extra lines went? Mori and I play this version. Kyozan-san was his teacher, he was the teacher for Mori-san's honkyoku calligraphy. Kyozan was well-admired for his calligraphy and presented Mori-san with some examples that are considered art, Mori-san gave one to me as pictured here:
He also penned Mori's license here:
Beautiful stuff, did you see Kyozan's calligraphy in Tokyo?

Posted by: Mark Pimenta Mar 26 2011, 05:20 PM

Hi Dean,

Yes I did see his writing while I was in Japan, I studied for a little while there, sorry with who and what will remain private because some of these things should be left that way, don't you think? I'm sorry, I must have misunderstood what you meant when you said in your first post that Ikkyu wrote the Honkyoku Murasaki no Kyoku, I thought you meant that he wrote it, my apologizes. But I'm pretty certain there is at least one more line to the piece, there's no end lines. Maybe you could ask your sensei for everyone's edification? Kyozan-sensei's writing is indeed very beautiful, thank you oh so very much for sharing the links. I miss being in Japan and am very saddened with what is happening over there, so very sad. Be well.

Domo - Arigato,

Posted by: Dean Mar 27 2011, 02:12 AM

The story told to me by a few Japanese Taizan players has it Ikkyu wrote Murasaki. Sounds good to me.

Posted by: cloudsounds Mar 28 2011, 12:37 AM

I'm with you on this one Dean.

Posted by: Dean Mar 28 2011, 12:28 PM

Thanks Mark, for the info, I'm glad you're on the portal. Mori-san's preference for ending Murasaki no Kyoku is the first page. There is an extra line or so on the back.

The piece is attributed to Ikkyu-san, and has been a tradition, or possibly a folk tale.

Here's the rest of the notation for Murasaki no Kyoku (Reibo). The writing on the side below the title says something about a purple flower, and reibo or bell, that reminded the original transcriber of the song.

Posted by: Dean Mar 30 2011, 10:57 AM

A history on Murasaki from Ronnie Seldin: "This piece has been attributed to the great Zen Buddhist monk, Ikkyu Zenji (also popularly known as Ikkyu-san) who lived about 400 years ago. He was known for his great intelligence, and especially for his ability to see the simple, natural way of things.
This piece compares the nature of people and clouds. It is said that the alternating movement and stillness of clouds are truly in the spirit of nature. So too, should people imitate the clouds and know when it is time to move and when it is time to be still.
"Shrinpo" (also known as "Murasaki-Reibo") is a Meian honkyoku from Daitokuji temple in Kyoto. It is played with the intention of creating an overall feeling of peacefulness."

From ISS: "This piece takes its name from a district in northern Kyoto, in which the temple of Daitokuji is located. One of Japan's most celebrated Zen priests, Ikkyu, was sent to Daitokuji as a child for his education. Ikkyu was alleged to be the illegitimate son of an emperor, and his mother is said to have been of an anti-Imperial family. Ikkyu's heritage most certainly contributed to his having a discreet upbringing. Nevertheless, we know from Ikkyu's writings that he played the shakuhachi, and indeed, nearly always carried one in his sash. Hence, the strong association of Ikkyu to Murasakino (which incidentally is also the birthplace of the Tozan school of shakuhachi), and this piece is unmistakable in its attempt to convey Ikkyu's spirit of zen. Traditionally, the composition of Murasakino-no-kyoku is attributed it Ikkyu, but this has yet to be substantiated. Ikkyu is also renowned for his poetry and calligraphy."

Ikkyu-san played a forerunner of the shakuhachi called a hitoyogiri; hito meaning one, yo being the space between two bamboo nodes, and giri meaning cut. The sound would be more flute-like, clear, and higher-pitched than a later root-end shakuhachi.

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