top of page

Let's play three diatonic scales of Flat system:
F major, B-flat major, E-flat major

The shakuhachi used here is 1.8 (D) tube_5holes.

Here, Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si (Ti) Do represent the relative pitches (movable Do).

Two major schools of Shakuhachi: KINKO-school and TOZAN-school may have different name of fingerings called for the same pitch.

1. F major scale

The first octave

Figure showing Fingerings for the first octave in F Major Scale

Figure1: Fingering chart for the first octave in F Major Scale

The diatonic scale is a seven-tone scale that divides an octave into seven notes, consisting of five whole notes and two half notes. The diatonic scale, which arranges notes in the order of "whole tone, whole tone, half tone, whole tone, whole tone, whole tone, half tone" from the key note(tonic), is also called the major scale.

 

The diatonic scale of F major is the scale with the tonic (first note of the diatonic scale) being 5 degrees below (4 degrees above) the tonic of C major scale. Specifically, the scale is: Do(F), Re(G), Mi(A), Fa(B-flat), Sol(C), La(D), Si(E), Do(F). The key signature a <flat> appears in Fa(B-flat)

Do (F) → «Tsu»: Second note of the basic five notes.

Re (G) → «Re»: Third note of the basic five notes.

Mi (A) → «Chi»: Forth note of the basic five notes.

Fa (B-flat) → «Ri_Meri» (KINKO) / «Ha_Han-on» (TOZAN): This note is not included in the basic five notes. You make it by closing 2/3 on hole no.4. You do MERU at the same time the hole is 2/3 closed. This is a Whole tone MERI (C-double flats=B-flat) of «Ri/Ha»(C5).

Sol (C) → «Hi» (KINKO) / «Ha» (TOZAN): Fifth note of the basic five tones.

La (D) → «Ro»: One octave above «Ro» as Tsutsune-tone (first note of the basic five tones).

Si (E) → «Tsu _ChuMeri» (KINKO) / «Tsu_Meri» (TOZAN): This note is not included in the basic five notes. You make it by closing 1/2 on hole no.1. You do a little MERU at the same time the hole is 1/2 closed. This is a Half tone MERI (F-flat=E) of «Tsu»(F).

The scond octave

Figure showing Fingerings for the second octave in F Major Scale

Figure2: Fingering chart for the first octave in F Major Scale

From Do (F): «Tsu» to Sol (C): «Hi»/«Ha»→ Fingerings are same as in the first octave. You can get notes an octave higher by using the same fingerings as in the first octave and speeding up the flow of your breath. In the KINKO-school, the fingering for Fa (B-flat) as a pitch of KAN-range is called «Hi_Meri» instead of «Ri_Meri» (called in OTSU-range) .

La (D) → «Gono_Ha» (KINKO) / «Pi» (TOZQAN). Slightly open hole no.5 and a little MERU. Pitch is the same as «Ro», namely two octaves above the Tsutsune_tone.

Si (E) → «Shino_Ha» (KINKO) / «Shi» (TOZAN). Sometimes the fifth hole is closed with a small space. You may close the hole1also, but even in these cases the pitch remains the same. This note is not included in the basic five notes. This is a Half tone MERI (F-flat=E) of «Tsu» (F).

Do (F) in the third octave cannot come out at 1.8 tube. If your flow of the breath is faster than when playing in KAN-range with «Tsu» fingering, you will naturally get an F-sharp instead of F.

2. B-flat major scale

The first octave

Figure1: Fingarings of the first octave in B♭ major scale

Figure showing Fingerings for the first octave in B-flat Major Scale

Figure3: Fingering chart for the first octave in B-flat Major Scale

The diatonic scale of B-flat major is the scale with the tonic (Do = B-flat) being 5 degrees below (4 degrees above) the tonic of F major scale. Specifically, the scale is : Do(B-flat), Re(C), Mi(D), Fa(E-flat), Sol(F), La(G), Si(A), Do(B-falt). The key signature <flats> appear on Do(B-flat) and Fa(E-flat). 

Do (B-flat) → «Ri_Meri» (KINKO) / «Ha_Han-On» (TOZAN). You make it by closing 2/3 on hole 4. You do MERU at the same time the hole is 2/3 closed. This is a Whole tone MERI (C-double flats=B-flat) of «Ri/Ha»(C5).

Re (C5) → «Ri» (KINKO) / «Ha» (TOZAN): Fifth note of the basic five notes.

Mi (D) → «Ro»: One octave above «Ro» as Tsutsune-tone.

Fa (E-flat) → «Tsu _Meri» (KINKO) «Tsu_Han-On» (TOZAN): You make it by closing 2/3 on hole 1. You do MERU at the same time the hole is 2/3 closed. This is a Whole tone MERI (F-double flats=E-flat) of «Tsu»(F). Sometimes «Ro_Kari» is used as an alternate fingering to make the sound brighter and louder at the same pitch.

Figure showing Fingering for "RO-KARI"

Figure4: Fingering chart for the first octave in B-flat Major Scale

Contrary to MERI action = MERU, the act of raising the pitch by widening the opening area of the mouthpiece, which is blocked from the lower lip to the chin, is called KARI action or KARU. When playing «Ro_Kari», it is necessary to do KARU.

Sol (F) → «Tsu» : The second note of the five basic tones, «Tsu» in the KAN range.

La (G) → «Re» : The third note of the five basic tones, «Re» in the KAN range.

Si (A) → «Chi» : The forth note of the five basic tones, «Chi» in the KAN range.

The second octave

Figure showing Fingerings for the second octave in B-flat Major Scale

Figure5: Fingerings of the second octave in B-flat major scale

Do (B-flat) → «Hi_O-Meri» (KINKO) / «Ha_Han-On» (TOZQAN). You make it by closing 2/3 on hole 4. You do MERU at the same time the hole 4 is 2/3 closed. This is a Whole tone MERI (C-double flats=B-flat) of «Hi/Ha» (C6).

Re (C) → «Hi» (KINKO) / «Ha» (TOZAN): One octave above «Ri/Ha»

Mi (D) → «Gono_Ha» (KINKO) / «Pi» (TOZQAN). Slightly open hole no.5 and MERU. Pitch is same as «Ro». Two octaves above the Tsutsune_tone. Speed up the flow of your breath more than when you blow KAN-range.

Fa (E-flat) → «Nino_Ha» (KINKO) / «Ta» (TOZAN).  Do a little KARU. Speed up the flow of your breath more than when you blow KAN-range. Sometimes «Ro_Kari» is used as an alternate fingering to make the sound brighter and louder at the same pitch. See Figure4.

Sol (F) → «Tsu_TaiKan»  This pitch cannot be produced by a normal 5-hole shakuhachi. If you speed up the flow of your breath more than when you blow KAN range, you will get naturally F-sharp instead of F.

La (G) → «Re_Taikan»: You speed up the flow of your breath more than when you blow «Re» in KAN-range. Some instruments may be difficult to make a firm sound.

3. E-flat major scale

The first octave

Figure showing Fingerings for the first octave in E-flat Major Scale

Figure6: Fingerings of the first octave of E-flat major scale

The diatonic scale of E-flat major is the scale with the tonic being 5 degrees below (4 degrees above) the tonic of B-flat major scale. Specifically, the scale is: Do(E-flat), Re(F), Mi(G), Fa(A-flat), Sol(B-flat), La(C), Si(D) and Do(E-flat). The key signature <flats> appear on Do(E-flat), Fa(A-flat) and Sol(B-flat). 

Do (E-flat) → «Tsu-Meri» (KINKO) «Tsu_Han-On» (TOZAN). You make it by closing 3/4 on hole no.1. You do MERU at the same time the hole 1 is 3/4 closed. This is a Whole tone MERI (F-double flats=E-flat) of «Tsu»(F). This note is not very resonant, but it is a typical Shakuhachi sound that is indispensable for Japanese classical music.

Re (F) → «Tsu»: Second note of the basic five-tones.

Mi (G) → «Re»: Third note of the basic five-tones.

Fa (A-flat) →«Chi_Meri» (KINKO) / «Chi_Han-on» (TOZAN). You make it by closing 1/2 on hole 3. You a little do MERU at the same time the hole 3 is 1/2 closed. This is a Half tone MERI (A-flat) of «Chi» (A).

Sol (B-flat) → «Ri_Meri» (KINKO) / «Ha_Han-On» (TOZAN). You make it by closing 2/3 on hole 4. You do MERU at the same time the hole is 2/3 closed. This is a Whole tone MERI (C-double flats=B-flat) of «Ri/Ha» (C5).

La (C) → «Ri» (KINKO) / «Ha» (TOZAN): Fifth note of the basic five-tones (C5).

Si (D) → «Ro»: One octave above «Ro» as Tsutsune.

The second octave

Figure showing Fingerings for the second octave in E-flat Major Scale

Figure7: Fingerings of the second octave of E-flat major scale

Do (E-flat) → «Tsu-Meri» (KINKO) / «Tsu_Han-On» (TOZQAN). You make it by closing 3/4 on hole 1. You do MERU at the same time the hole 1 is 3/4 closed. You can get notes an octave higher by using the same fingering as the first octave and speeding up the flow of your breath. This is a Whole tone MERI (F-double flats=E-flat) of «Tsu» (F). Sometimes «Ro_Kari» is used as an alternate fingering to make the sound brighter and louder at the same pitch. See Figure4: «Ro_Kari».

From Re (F): «Tsu» to La (C): «Hi/Ha» → Fingerings are same as in the first octave. In the KINKO-school, the fingering for Sol (B-flat) in KAN-range is called «Hi_Meri» instead of «Ri_Meri» called in OTSU-range. You can get notes an octave higher by using the same fingering as the first octave and speeding up the flow of your breath.

Si (D) → «Gono_Ha» (KINKO) / «Pi» (TOZQAN). Slightly open hole 5 and MERU. Pitch is the same as «Ro». Two octaves above the Tsutsune_tone.

The second octave

Figure showing Fingerings for the third octave in E-flat Major Scale

Figure8: Fingerings of the third octave of E-flat major scale

Do (E-flat) → «Nino_Ha» (KINKO) / «Ta» (TOZAN).  Do a little «KARU». Speed up the flow of your breath more than when you blow KAN-range. The pitch is same as «Tsu_Meri» (KINKO) / «tsu_Han-on» (TOZAN). Sometimes «Ro_Kari» is used as an alternate fingering to make the sound brighter and louder at the same pitch. See Figure4: «Ro_Kari».

Re (F) → «Tsu-Taikan» cannot come out at 1.8 tube. If your flow of the breath is faster than when playing in KAN range with «Tsu» fingering, you will naturally get an F-sharp instead of F.

Mi (G) → «Re_Taikan»: You speed up the flow of your breath more than when you blow «Re» in KAN range. Some instruments may be difficult to make a firm sound.

Next step

bottom of page