About the Instruments

Shakuhachi

ShakuhachiThe predecessor of the shakuhachi came to Japan from China possibly as early as the 8th C AD. Since then, the instrument's construction & performance style have changed considerably. The present day instrument is made from the root end of a heavy variety of Japanese bamboo, it has five finger holes & is made in a range of lengths. From 1600 the shakuhachi was played exclusively by monks of a Buddhist sect as a form of meditation known as 'blowing zen'. The pieces which came to be notated & passed down from this tradition are known as 'honkyoku' (original or true pieces), and reflect the mendicant monks' life of solitude & their connection with nature. Since the late 19th C it has been played in chamber music with koto (zither), shamisen (lute) & voice. The 20th C saw the international dissemination of the instrument & its music, & its use in new music genres.

Harpsichord

The harpsichord is a keyboard instrument that plucks the strings. The repertoire for the harpsichord extends from about 1500 to 1780. This spans the historical periods of the late Renaissance & the Baroque era & includes composers such as John Bull, Frescobaldi, Sweelinck, the Couperins, Buxtehude, Handel, Bach, and Rameau. In addition to its solo repertoire, it was required as a 'continuo' or accompanying instrument in most of the chamber music of this period. This entailed playing a figured (or sometimes unfigured!) bass line which is a shorthand for the chord sequences, much the same as modern guitar chord charts, over which the continuo instrument improvises. Peter's harpsichord is a loose copy of an early 18th C instrument by Christian Zell, built by Johannes Klinkhamer in Amsterdam in 1991.