|When most people used to hear a new word the most obvious reaction was to go straight to a dictionary and find out what it meant or what the object was. These days you could go to on-line dictionaries, but even that is often unnecessary. Just type the word into your Web search engine (E.g., Google) and see what comes up. How hard is that?
Well, fortunately I know what a shakuhachi is but I don’t think I’d be wrong to say that many of my fellow humans have no conception of what this magical instrument is. http://www.shakuhachi.com/TOC-MM.html is the first site that comes up on Google and it’s quite a good example of how extensive the knowledge of something you’ve never heard of can be, as well as how to create a thorough website. Although ‘Shakuhachi-Traditional Japanese Bamboo Flute’ is essentially a commercial site that hopes for visitors to buy its products, there is access to a stockpile of historical information as well as links to all sorts of musicians and books related to the subject.
This Tai Hei Shakuhachi site is full of photographs of this beautiful looking and of course sounding instrument. The reason I am writing this article is because the moment when I heard this instrument played by the first non-Japanese Grand Master, it simply changed my life. His name is Ryley Lee and what I witnessed at his concert was the most focused, peaceful and magical display of music that I could have ever imagined. This flute only has four holes; you should hear how many sounds could come out of it!
On this website under a section called ‘Endorsements’ (obviously they want some credibility when selling their instruments) a number of master players comment on the Tai Hei shakuhachis. Ryley Lee was on this list and what he said about their instruments was quite incredible; these guys must really know their stuff. A good sign that the site is worthy of mention is the fact that they endorse other people and their products. They’re not just one-track-minded capitalists thinking only of their own pockets.
I was able to click onto a link for Ryley Lee where it then listed thirty of his recordings for sale (with pictures) as well as his PhD thesis that looks at past and present processes of transmission within the tradition of the shakuhachi honkyoku ("original pieces"). Zen Buddhist ‘priests of nothingness’ played these songs since at least the fifteenth century who believed that playing the shakuhachi’s music was a form of meditation and a medium in which to attain enlightenment. Pretty cool huh.
So, next time you hear a new word or are told about something that is not in your field of knowledge you know where to go. If you’re searching for good websites or you want to see some examples of successful ones, look for extensive and creative examples where obvious time and effort has been put into its construction. Anyone can create a website, but do some research and you’ll see that some people have really done their homework as well as displaying aesthetically pleasing imagery for the visitor.
About the author:
Jesse S. Somer,
Somer is technophobe learning about the power of the Web that is even accessible by people like him.
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