Music for Zen Meditation

by: Riley Lee

The shakuhachi is an ancient Japanese flute built from a single stalk of mandake bamboo. Introduced into Japan from China in the eighth century, the instrument has been used as a spiritual and meditation instrument since at least the 15th century. Music for Zen Meditation features solo shakuhachi performances from Riley Lee, the first non-Japanese dai shihan, or grand master of the instrument. It is a spare, contemplative recording that is well suited for any kind of relaxation. Unlike many albums intended to enhance yoga or meditation, this release doesn't muddy up its performances with melodramatic nature sounds or new age synthesizer clichés. Rather, it contains two discs of unadorned shakuhachi performances. As a wind instrument, the shakuhachi flute is deceptively simple. It has no keys, pads, levers, or reeds like most Western flutes, and includes only five finger holes. But masters of the instrument draw expressive, evocative variations of sound that are at once relaxing and captivating. Lee turns in performances like this throughout Music for Zen Meditation. Accompanied only by his own breathing, Lee draws forth wistful melodies that seem drenched in morning dew. ~ Johnny Loftus

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