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Japanese Traditional Koto And Shakuhachi Music

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iTunes Review

Satomi Saeki and Alcvin Takegawa Ramos bring the subtle sounds of traditional Japanese music to the contemporary world. Saeki plays koto, the 13-string horizontal harp; Ramos plays the shakuhachi, a vertical flute made of bamboo. The album features three pieces for solo koto, two works for shakuhachi, and three duets. The musicians are Japanese natives, but they are based in western Canada, and their interpretations sometimes reflect that fact. For instance, “Seki Setsu,” for solo shakuhachi, is a quiet reflection on the natural beauty of British Columbia. (If some of these tracks put you in a deeply relaxed state, it’s not by accident: the shakuhachi has traditionally been used by Zen Buddhist monks as a sort of meditation device.) And “Rokudan,” one of the album's duets, dates from the 17th century, but the performers play two of its movements at quicker tempi to reflect the pace of contemporary life. The Saeki and Takegawa Ramos original, “Fuyu Momiji,” was inspired by the color of a Maple leaf in winter and it makes for a fitting cross-cultural closer.

Customer Reviews


This album is an excellent introduction to traditional Japanese Music. Ma is/are the moment(s) between the played notes. This non-sound (it is not the same as a pause) is just as important in this old Japanese music as the notes preceeding or following. I studied the Shaku Hachi in Japan (Kyoto) for 6 years, and this CD is every bit as beautiful as most of what I listened to during those years. The Koto playing is artful and sensitive, clearly Ms. Saeki was taught well and loves what she does. Mr. Ramos plays the Shaku Hachi with deep respect and class. A number of these pieces are from the 18th and 19th centuries and on this album are as fresh now as they were then thanks to two consumate musicians and artists.

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This is superb music, inaccessible to many of us (myself included) as far as its prime meaning, however, we can learn much about ancient Japanese culture and the Japanese aesthetic sense through these beautiful recordings. They are extremely evocative of Japanese style and movement; simply, beautiful.


There is an excelent blend of koto and shakuhachi on this album. It portrays traditional Japanese music perfectly. The one thing that I have to say is that it would have been nice to also have some shamisen, but then again the album is "Japanese Traditional Koto and Shakuhachi." Nonetheless, this is a great album for anybody seeking fantastic and very traditional (yet still modern) Japanese music.

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Japanese Traditional Koto And Shakuhachi Music, Satomi Saeki And Alcvin Takegawa Ramos
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: World, Music
  • Released: Feb 21, 2006

Customer Ratings