So here I am sixteen months into my Shakuhachi journey as Erin has so appropriately named her blog. My next big hurdle, which will probably be a life long struggle, is pitch. A good friend of mine who is a professional musician/teacher said to me today that this is his nemesis as he constantly struggles with it daily and will continue to do so to try to achieve perfection. As you may know, perfection as seen through the eyes of the Japanese, can never truly be reached. But it doesn't mean that we should give up on its' pursuit, just the contrary. It is the path or way to perfection that is the most important thing.
Also, my friend pointed out that many instruments have multiple variables that can affect the pitch. Of course let's take the Shakuhachi as an example as this is all or part of where our interest lies. Now I must put a disclaimer on this as I know very little about music in general and the theory of music. The fundamentals of music theory (pitch, rhythm, scales, melody, harmony, timbre, etc.) is a study in itself but I would like to talk about my struggles with pitch. Many times it has been pointed out to me by my teacher that my notes are too flat, for instance "ri". So I try to raise the pitch by lifting my head up and changing the angle of my embouchure in relation to the utaguchi. Here's two variables that I've discovered throughout my practice which has affected my pitch: head angle to the utaguchi and embouchure. To help with my efforts to play in pitch I purchased a chromatic tuner. Many times when I do robuki or scales I use the tuner to check if I am playing in pitch and not too flat or sharp. I will tell you that I use the tuner as an occasional tool not every time that I play. The importance of just 'being in the moment' of robuki or long tones is just as important as playing the right pitch. Many times I find that if I get too technical it takes away from the true path that I am on, however, playing the right pitch is very important. I did notice that how hard you blow has no affect on the pitch so if you are too flat or too sharp you will remain that way even when you blow harder.
Anyway, I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic as I am interested to see what you all have experienced in your playing whether you disagree or not. My eyes, ears, and ego remain open to your thoughts and experiences as always.