A Maker's Profile

Akebono Shakuhachi
by Jon Norris

A Yellow Cedar Akebono Shakuhachi

Last May, at the Musical Echoes festival, I reconnected with Jon Norris, a flute maker from NC who owns Jon Norris Music & Art. Jon and I had met several years ago when I performed in the Raleigh Durham area the week before my last appearance at the Potomac festival.

At that time Jon was not making flutes full time, but he is now, as well as making end-blown flutes, cigar box guitars and many other unique and fun instruments. This had all happened since the last time I caught up with him, so I was excited to see what he was making.

I spent a long time hanging out, chatting and playing flutes. I was impressed with all of them, but the one that really caught my attention is a Shakuhachi with a modified Akebono tuning made of yellow cedar. It had a great sound, was lightweight and really fun to play.

Shak-09-22-22_12
The Jon Norris Shakuhachi

The flute is tuned to C# and has four fingers holes and one thumb hole. Jon recreates the look of the traditional bamboo joints with a little wood burning.

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A detail view of the flute

This is a great flute and a lot of fun to play I've been performing with this flute ever since I bought it and in October got a clean live recording of an improvisation I played during one of my recent concerts.

Listen to a sample of this flute

This sample is part of the complete tune Bamboo Moon, and was the free Autumn 2011 download for members of my Emailing List. Click Here to join the Cedar Mesa Music Email List and download Bamboo Moon for free!

Bamboo Moon

The flute is tuned to a modified Akebono scale. An Akebono scale contains the intervals: Root - Maj 2nd - Min 3rd - 5th - Min 6th - Octave. For this flute Jon added a maj 7th between the Min 6th and the Octave.

The notes on this specific flute are C#-D#-E-G#-A-B#-C#.

About that B#... On a piano the same key is used to play B# and C. In music notation a # (sharp) symbol tells the player to raise the pitch one half-step. On a piano the keyboard a half step higher than B is C. Since the root of this flute is C# we cannot call the maj 7th C since the note name C is already used for the C#. In other words, there can only be one pitch in a scale spelled with a letter note name. So if you use the letter to name C#, then the letter C is taken and can't be used again.

 

© 2011 Cedar Mesa Music. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication, transmission or distribution is a violation of applicable laws.

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