Yoshizen's Blog

Sound of BACH

One of the reader left a comment, ” the post should have more media ” —– Yes, I’m well aware of it.

And the post shouldn’t be longer than 140 words otherwise no one would read  😀

In fact I got many plan to put a photo or video image into the post, such as ” I should put my Ancient Yoga

dancing video image into  Most Bizarre Story in Zen :-D”  or a photo of frosted leaves

into  Cold Blow — ( I’ve seen the frost in the night ) but  when I went to the same place next day,

frost wasn’t there. 😀 It’s a bad tendency of ex-photographer, don’t want to settle with casual photo or

somebody else’s photo found in the Net.  😉

Anyhow,  while searching a music sample to talk about with my friend,  I stumbled a Youtube

image which I should have put into my BACH post —— ;

This is a part of J.S.Bach’s  Art of Fugue which I’ve talked about, but not from the beginning yet still

it may give some idea.  This musician / programmer, SMALIN having 200 or more music videos there.

And I found his graphical representation of the music is very effective as we can see the structure

of it in one glance.  Especially, the graphical patterns are much easier to distinguish than hear in sound.

To make the image,  may be the Midi cord is directly triggering the position and the length of each note,

therefore it is rather simple but very clear.  Same tonal information is in the music score, graphically

though, I found this is the simplest and more effective demonstration.


Then what I found the next to above clip was —— jaw dropping funny music video.

As a matter of fact this (yet another ) Japanese phenomena [ Miku Hatsune ] was totally new to me

until only few weeks ago.  This music animation program was created by YAMAHA as an open-source.

Anybody input the phonetic note, it will be played in synthesized voice, and the character Miku Hatsune

will sing as the user programmed, so that, anybody can produce a music anime of female singer, free.

There said to be half million Miku Hatsune video clip in the Net. ( search them, if you are interested in )

——- In 60~70th, there were two memorable musicians played BACH in new sounds.

One was the Swingle Singers. They played Bach’s polyphonic music purely by a jazz scat like voices.

And another was a French pianist Jacque Lucie and he played or improvised  Bach in Jazz.

Both sound are still in the bottom of my music memories, alongside the more traditional classic musician,

Jazz musician and they formed the music culture of my life.

Between Jazz and Baroque music, there is a common character of the improvisation —– spontaneous

on the spot creation.

Very interesting fact is, when musician is improvising the phrase, frontal lobe of the brain

became inactive. Frontal robe is the place, where rational thinking or process of causation is taking place.

This is the exact parallel to the Buddhism teaching  Mushin. To be creative, don’t think.

Open mind mean, don’t impose a preconceived idea or judgement —– or Thinking.

You may wonder, ” Without knowing the passage, how musician can improvise ?  With the intelligence

shut down, how musician can control music making ?” —— may be you are not a musician.  That’s why

you ask this question.  If you still need to think about This Music, you can not improvise it on the spot.

When you became This Music or This Music became You, and you can play it without reading score,

without thinking —– then you can improvise it in total freedom.  Zen Buddhism call it Ichijo / Oneness.

So, with open mind, see and listen this  BACH sang by  Miku Hatsune —– It’s not too bad 😀  Ha ha ha.

Did you enjoyed ?  Or is it gone too far you think ?

Some irritating noise and instability of the sound there, still, considering it was created by an ordinary

person, using freely available open source, —— it is pretty impressive.  I like it. Thanks to the creator.



Mushin ( No Mind )

Posted in Buddhism, Dharma, Mind, Mushin, Order of Universe, Zen by yoshizen on January 31, 2010

While looking back and analyzing the circumstances of the extremely lucky coincidence

which I described in the post “J, S, Bach”, how I was given the chance to meet the organist,

Prof; Helmut Walcha, I came to the conclusion, the contributory fact seemed to be my very attitude

for that organ pilgrimage.

I did the said pilgrimage absolutely no purpose, or for any personal gain.   So that, other than

few  photos of the organs, there wasn’t any attempt to make such as the sound recordings.

I bumped a Japanese Radio Producer working in NHK (Japanese equivalent of BBC) at a church in Paris

who said ” It shame if you had made sound recordings, it would make good music program” though

such idea was completely out of the scope.   I just wanted to listen the music, that’s all.

Its mean,  there was no Ego,  only the Music of  J,S,Bach existed there.


This absolute Mushin (since as I have distinguished the difference between Mushin and

the misconceived  idea of so-called Selflessness,  I’ll use this word instead ) was the very distinctive,

peculiar state of the mind then, and it must be the reason why the Dharma rewarded me with good luck,

otherwise such coincidence was too good to be true.

This must be the reason why Zen never ask the followers to believe any story or even the teachings

itself but just achieve the Mushin and live  with absolutely no intentional thought, even a conscious

of ” I’m doing Zen” — only in such Ego less state of the mind and the life, the Dharma prevail itself.

( If I resort that idea of Double Layer,  of cause my upper Layer, Rational Thinking was working, as I had to

find the train to go to particular town and the Church etc,  I needed to deal with all the task though,

the Deeper Layer, fundamental drive ” Why Do I need to Do”  had no Ego,  took as imperative and

automatic.  It was the same situation like in the mountain,  we need to keep walking without question)


When I did that Pilgrimage, I didn’t have enough understanding of  Zen, let alone any belief of the Dharma.

(I was still a young man.  Only few months after I met Master Kogetsu in the Eihei-ji Temple )

But I can definitely say , there was no purpose or any special intention behind of my journey ——- it

happened almost by chance, and this completely open, Mushin was able to touch with the Dharma and

invited the good coincidence to meet Prof; Walcha.

This is the very Panja Paramita of the Buddhism, hidden mechanism of the Dharma.

J. S. Bach — Helmut Walcha

One morning,  when I was drifting, I heard a pipe organ music of  J.S. Bach, in the back of a TV drama.

Then,  I decided to go west to listen the sound of original instrument in the original acoustic environment.

Before, I was an enthusiast of  Baroque music, especially Bach’s organ Music.  So, I made a long list of the church and the name of the town where the recording was made for the German Gramophone Archive Record.

Then I took a ship to Siberia, Russia.  When the ship left Yokohama Port, I saw off  Japan  with my eyes getting fuzzier as it may be the last time to see her ever again.


After long journey through frozen land scape of Russia, I reached to  Helsinki, Finland.  The Helsinki Cathedral was my starting point of 100 of the church organ pilgrimage, covering many famous Alp Schnitger, Silbermann organs etc.    (The beauty of this plan was, if we go to the Church on  Sunday, there is the organ music played on, could be 300 years old original instrument, in the unique acoustic of the church. Free of charge.—- On top of this, many organ concerts, festivals held there)


Then I came across a charity concert of  Bach’s organ music to help restoration of old organ in Frankfurt.  The Organist was the most famous organist Prof; Helmut Walcha,  whose recording captured me into Bach’s organ music. (Prof; Walcha is a blind man, thus he played hundreds of organ music just from his memory)

Before concert start I was talking with a man sat next of me, about the different sound of each organ all over the Europe, since it was nearly the end of my journey,  I had covered most of the famous organs already.

The man was rather surprised of my journey, and he took me up  to organ booth and introduced me to the organist, Prof; Walcha  himself. ——- the man was the Manager of  Prof; Walcha.  ( Can you believe such a lucky coincidence.  ! )

Prof; Walcha talked about a tour of Japan and his friend, Musicologist Keisei Sakka.   And I had happened to attend a special  lecture by Prof; Sakka about the evolution of  Music Tonal System as a part of my Sociological study.  ( Tonal System evolved under the Christian monastic life and their Protestant Ethos of the devotion of the own life to perfect it — unlike a superficial glorification in the Catholic church, where how much gold was used to decorate the organ was the matter, but in the Protestant church, how three sounds of Trinity harmonize perfect was the matter. ) —– (I wrote about how Natural Tonal System was created.)

———-It was the incredibly lucky coincidence to fulfill my pilgrimage.

And it made one of the best moment of my whole life. What I could ask more.


Some ignorant criticize Bach’s music, saying that they are too abstract, even mechanical.   In fact it was the self confession of how he is ignorant and having no ear to appreciate the music.  Under the most strict rules of such as the Fugue, still able to create such soul-shaking striking music is the work of nothing but the genius. ——– Achieve  total freedom under the strict rules, is the Zen.

Unlike Romantic School’s sticky emotional melody,  Polyphonic Baroque Music, especially Bach’s music can eliminate the thought.  (Rather constant rhythm / no syncopation, and three-part polyphonic keeps waving complex tonal pictures,  which  refuses our own imagination —– makes us just listen the sound, not a story or any notion—– yet it gave us very comfortable relaxed feeling)

It’s suite to the Zenist.


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