Arranged by Cornelius Boots for solo shakuhachi.
These raw bamboo flutes evoke the breathy sound of sacred mysteries and have been used as meditation tools by esoteric Zen monks and mountain hermits for over 1000 years. Exploring these earthy sounds creates a connection to Nature and primordial dream states of consciousness: the trees singing, the mud chanting, the cave yawning, the sage wandering, the invisible glowing.
The primary solo repertoire, created by Buddhist monks in ancient Japan, grew out of breath awareness practices, chant, and the contemplation of Nature and the nature of Existence. Many of these pieces have found their way to us now with overt nature titles: "Three Valleys" "Floating Clouds", "Waterfall", "Nesting of the Cranes" and many more. I have tapped into this tradition and begun to create new nature pieces called "Renegade Nature Music." Some of these are original compositions and some are arrangements or re-imaginings of nature music from other genres, such as Classic Rock.
"Free Bird", the encore classic from Southern rock icons Lynyrd Skynyrd, has now been rendered backwards in time as the "nature music" piece that the bird who was freed intended it to be. The Buddhist flute is aurally mapping the consciousness of this Bird as it exits the physical world and transmigrates through the etheric and astral planes.
I was playing a solo shakuhachi show and a colleague (Tom Lattanand), knowing me from my rock days yelled out (of course) "Freebird!!" and somehow I knew that, yes, in fact, it would sound quite good on this flute--downright melodious and emotional as it turned out. Find the live performance on the youtube channel "wuweiwoodwind".
Cover art image by Steven Odell of the Museum of Natural Mystery, all rights reserved, used here with permission.
Steven tells how this "Bird Zen" image came to be: "Returning from a road trip north in 2010, I found a bird on the side of the road on the way to a mutual friend’s biodynamic winery in Sonoma County, California. Providing a meaningful and humane send-off to the spirits of road kill animals is a something that I have felt called to do since I was old enough to pick up dead things without being told not to. After preserving the wings, the bird was prayerfully buried under a peach tree on our friend’s land, from which I ate a peach and kept the pit to signify the union of the bird with the peach tree and myself with that moment. The very next day I found the two pieces of driftwood in a box full of unique driftwood that had been collected just two days prior up the coast. One looked remarkably like a bird’s skull and the other a bird’s tail, before I knew what I was doing they instantly arranged themselves with the wings and the peach pit like they are today. As I looked in astonished reverence at what was created in this way. I thought, “Is it a piece of 'art' that I 'made'? I really can't be sure."