Der Erlkönig

Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?
Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind;
Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm,
Er faßt ihn sicher, er hält ihn warm.

“Mein Sohn, was birgst du so bang dein Gesicht?”
“Siehst, Vater, du den Erlkönig nicht?
Den Erlenkönig mit Kron und Schweif?”
“Mein Sohn, es ist ein Nebelstreif.”‘

“Du liebes Kind, komm, geh mit mir!
Gar schöne Spiele spiel’ ich mit dir;
Manch’ bunte Blumen sind an dem Strand,
Meine Mutter hat manch gülden Gewand.”

“Mein Vater, mein Vater, und hörest du nicht,
Was Erlenkönig mir leise verspricht?”
“Sei ruhig, bleibe ruhig, mein Kind;
In dürren Blättern säuselt der Wind.”

“Willst, feiner Knabe, du mit mir gehn?
Meine Töchter sollen dich warten schön;
Meine Töchter führen den nächtlichen Reihn,
Und wiegen und tanzen und singen dich ein.”

“Mein Vater, mein Vater, und siehst du nicht dort
Erlkönigs Töchter am düstern Ort?”
“Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, ich seh es genau:
Es scheinen die alten Weiden so grau.”

“Ich liebe dich, mich reizt deine schöne Gestalt;
Und bist du nicht willig, so brauch ich Gewalt.”
“Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt faßt er mich an!
Erlkönig hat mir ein Leids getan!”

Dem Vater grauset’s, er reitet geschwind,
Er hält in Armen das ächzende Kind,
Erreicht den Hof mit Mühe und Not;
In seinen Armen das Kind war tot.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Der Erlkönig

Shakuhachi

Me and my very first shakuhachi.After some discussion with Greg, and a tip from Stephen (thanks, Stephen!), we went up to Santa Barbara to an interesting little music shop in the midst of pouring rain, and I got me a shakuhachi, pictured at right (pay no attention to the ugly man holding it; where do they get these shakuhachi catalog models??)

Shakuhachi are Japanese flutes, made out of the root segment of bamboo. Mine, even though it might look so from the picture, is not. It’s plastic. I got a plastic one because I don’t know how far I’m going to go with this. I found a site that is all about the flute I got, THE SHAKUHACHI YUU!!! shakuhachiyuu.com

I’ve always liked the shakuhachi, and I have an interest in wind instruments. They seem to me to be the most spiritual of the instruments. With the shakuhachi, there’s also an interesting connection to nature (which of course as a result means the instrument is packed with a lot of interesting cultural and religious significance). Real shakuhachi actually have stubs of the roots still on the end. Pretty cool!

Mine, alas, is synthetic, but it still has a nice sound. It took me a while to get it to actually make sound. You have to hold it at just the right angle to get anything more than a blowing noise. Unfortunately, my new instrument did not come with any playing instructions, so right now I’m just messing around with different notes.

I decided to try to get my hands on some book from which I could start to pick up the skill of the shakuhachi flutist. One book that kept popping up in internet searches was Shakuhachi: How to Play the Shakuhachi Flute by Yoshinobu Taniguchi.

Crazy white guy slashing stuff.Well, Amazon lists it as out of stock, so I went to this other site for a company called Bugei Trading Company. These guys are crazy. They have all this Japanese stuff, and it’s pretty real. I’m specifically referring to their “samurai swords,” which aren’t those crappy fake ones you can get at John T’s. They even have movies of some psycho white guy slicing the crap out of “cutting targets.” All that to say, I found the book on that site and it has now begun the journey from the warehouse to my doorstep.

Greg and I hope to start doing some music with the computer and with some live instruments. It’ll be fun if we actually do it. If I really get in to the shakuhachi thing, I’ll invest in something of a higher quality. Maybe some day I’ll get one from this site I found, shakuhachi.com (of course!). The flutes on this site look pretty bad ass, if I may say so. And the cheapest ones start out at only around $1700.00!! (I think that cheap one had some cracks in it that had been repaired, too!) Bet they sound awful nice…