Steven Feld: Suikinkutsu, A Japanese Underground Water Zither

Steven Feld: Suikinkutsu, A Japanese Underground Water Zither

$12.00 USD

VoxLox CD, 2006   Release date: August 1, 2006
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Soundscape by Steven Feld, 60 minutes continuous

SUIKINKUTSU, literally "water-zither-cave," is a unique instrument associated with washing for the Japanese tea ceremony. Water drips from a chozubachi stone basin into a partly-filled underground ceramic bowl.The dripping sound, resembling a koto zither, projects up through bamboo tubes into a garden, where water may symbolize spirit, purification, solace, and reflection. 

Dating to the mid 17th century Edo period, the name suikinkutsuis often credited to the famous tea ceremony teacher Kobori Enshu. After a decline, the instrument re-emerged in the Meiji Era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with renewed recent popularity. 

This soundscape of Kyoto’s Enko-ji Temple suikinkutsuis a multitrack composition created from field recordings. At low volume one experiences the ever-changing water rhythms flowing randomly into the pulsing surround of summer cicadas.

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