Ron Korb's Blog

Ron Korb is a much sought-after master of the flute and his musical excellence has left a mark in many places. He is known as the Flute Traveller, Prince of Flutes in Japan, and Dragon Flute in China. Ron has performed extensively to delighted audiences across five continents. He attended The Royal Conservatory of Music and The University of Toronto, where he graduated with honours. He has lived in Tokyo where he studied the shinobue and ryuteki bamboo flutes with Akao Michiko, and from there went on to master various woodwinds from around the world. Ron has also played on over 70 soundtracks of award winning and Academy Award nominated films by directors such as Ang Lee, Atom Egoyan, James Ivory, Robert Lepage, Mira Nair and John Woo. He has over thirty critically acclaimed releases in twenty countries on various record labels and a concert DVD that includes a Instrument Pictionary of 26 flutes with sounds, images and descriptions. Each of his signature CDs explores and unique aspect of world culture with the flute. Visit Rons' website.


John Lunn and the Art of Chasing

2012 June 11

Aside from being a wonderful thing to play, a flute can also be a work of art. When I was at the Yosemite Flute Festival pharmacy programs in canadian universities last year I was amazed at the wide variety of NAF flutes http://genericviagraonline-tabs.com

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and how beautifully they were crafted. Interesting wood grains, lovely finishes and in some cases painted or adorned with carving. Chinese flutes generally have canadian pharmacy chains a meaningful poem painted or carved on the head joint.

Examples of engraved keywork for the French style opened holed classical flute

Metal flutes can be decorated in two ways. http://viagraonline-genericrx.com The most common is by cheap online pharmacy engraving the keys and the lip

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plate. Engraving is achieved by carving or chiseling out a pattern from the material. The other method is chasing which involves hammering out the design from behind. One such master of this rare

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up a few streets away from where I currently reside. John began his flute training viagra skin cancer with Goosman flutes in Toronto and later moved to the Boston area where cialis generic online cheap he worked for Powell. John Lunn is also a science fiction and adventure writer following in the footsteps of his mother who was a well known writer

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Sideblown in Boston

2011 July 10

David Chu; Flute specialist and owner of Sideblown Technologies

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One such person is David Chu. Originally from Hong Kong, he first came to Boston to study classical flute at the New England Conservatory. He later moved to Phoenix where he wrote music for film and television as well as playing cialistadalafil-onlinerx and buy viagra no prescription contracting orchestras for film music sessions.

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Guo flutes of Taiwan

2010 December 27
by Ron Korb

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The Guo flutes are partly futuristic and partly inspired by the historic wooden flutes of Rudall and Carte. Like wooden flutes the keys contact the body of the flute directly without any raised tone holes. Because the flutes are injection moulded they can be cast in any color. White, orange, black, silver and their most popular color amongst teenage girls – PINK!!!

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Jazzen with John Kaizan Neptune

2010 July 3
by Ron Korb

John Kaizan Neptune in Toronto July 2008

In the early nineties I lived in Tokyo and had the privilege of making friends with the great American jazz shakuhachi player John Kaizan Neptune.  Born in Oakland and raised in San Diego this Californian has now lived and created music in Japan for over 30 years.

Neptune was introduced to the shakuhachi in the early 70s while studying ethnomusicology at the University of Hawaii – that is when he wasn’t surfing. Wanting to explore the shakuhachi in greater depth he moved to Kyoto and received the shi-han, or master’s certificate, from the Tozan School of Shakuhachi in 1977. Customary with the completion of training in traditional arts, he was awarded the honorary name “Kaizan,” which means Sea Mountain and nicely complemented his family name Neptune.    

Being the ingenious American that he is he began to employ techniques like double tonguing, multiphonics and began improvising with the instrument in a jazz style. He has made dozens of albums and received many awards.

When first I met him he was already living out in Kamogawa in his dome house in the beautiful Japanese countryside.  The one thing missing from his repertoire at that time was an album of unaccompanied flute music. The acoustics of his dome house lent itself perfectly to the creation of the CD “Words Can’t Go There” which was a combination of traditional classic hogaku and his original solo compositions. My only contribution to that project was phoning him periodically and nagging him about it.

In 2008, John was invited by the Washi Festival here in Toronto. He invited me to be a guest flutist at his gig at Lula Lounge. The organizers had arranged John to be backed up by two amazing musicians – the legendary Dave Young on bass and Robi Botos on piano. 

John Kaizan Neptune continues to live in Kamogawa where he makes world class shakuhachi and other bamboo instruments from bamboo he harvests himself.

For more information about John Kaizan Neptune visit http://www.pacificsites.net/~jneptune

Travels through China Part 3

2010 February 1

As we continued our visit to the Minheng District Museum of Shanghai, Chinese Folk Musical Instrument Exhibition Hall, I was amazed at the quality of the flutes in the collection.

Chinese Mouth Organs, Sheng and Hulu si

Chinese Mouth Organs, Sheng and Hulu si

In the photo above there are some beautiful examples of Chinese mouth organs. The ones on the back wall are multi-reed pipes called sheng and the gourd shaped one in the front has only two pipes and is called the hulu si. The hulu si has one pipe that is simply a drone and the other has finger holes that can play melody. 

Chinese transverse flutes (dizi)

Chinese transverse flutes (dizi)

Here is a beautifully carved jade dizi (Chinese transverse flute). Notice the interesting finger hole pattern in the flute to the right. At first look it doesn’t make any sense. Some Chinese players play the flute right to left instead of left to right and this finger pattern might be a strange hybrid of both.

 

Chinese Xun (egg shaped ocarinas)

Chinese Xun (egg shaped ocarinas)

The xun is an egg shaped ocarina made of clay. This flute does not have a fipple like a South American ocarina but instead the player has to blow across the top like on a soda bottle. This flute produces a beautiful earthy tone and employs all the fingers of the player except the pinkie on the right hand. Even both thumbs are used.

Double reeds (Suona, Guanzi)

Double reeds (Suona, Guanzi)

In this display case we have some double reeds. On the right we have a very ornate suona. This instrument has a trumpet like bell and rather a kazoo type tone.  Almost like a coloratura soprano cross bred with a mosquito. On the middle stand we have the guanzi which has sounds similar to a saxophone.  In 2002, I was involved with a concert in China where we did collaboration with a guanzi player who was studying jazz and we performed a piece in the style of George Benson’s Affirmation.

 

pitched bamboo pipes

pitched bamboo pipes

Aside from a comprehensive offering of woodwinds, the District Museum also has a great complement of strings and percussion. The string collection includes bowed, hammered and plucked instruments of all shapes and sizes.  Some instruments normally the dimensions of  a small banjo were the size of double basses and there was also a wide array of gongs and metallophones 

Travels through China part 2

2010 January 22

After about 45 minutes of testing and shopping at the Dunhuang musical instrument showroom I had many boxes of flutes to stuff my already bulging suitcases. My attitude towards collecting flutes is like Carrie’s attitude from ‘Sex in The City’ towards buying shoes.   We bid farewell to the factory staff and went to our next stop which was lunch at a picturesque town called Qibao meaning ‘Seven Treasures’ in Chinese. It is an ancient town established in the year 960 with water canals and winding streets. We feasted on local specialties in a noisy restaurant and strolled through the busy streets. 

Qibao - Ancient Water Village

Qibao - Ancient Water Village

 

After that they took me to the Minheng District Museum of Shanghai, Chinese Folk Musical Instrument Exhibition Hall 中国民族乐器陈列馆.  It certainly didn’t look like we were going to a Museum as we walked through the main entrance which was a grocery super market and took the escalators up through the department store to the 5th floor. Little did I know that we were about to visit one of the most impressive collections of Asian instruments in China.

  

The Minheng District Museum claims the artefacts predate the Qing Dynasty (1616 – 1911). The instruments are displayed in simple glass cases with descriptions in Chinese only.   In this display you can see a series of end blown flutes. The ones on the top row and on the bottom right are notched flutes similar to the Japanese shakuhachi. The others on the lower right are similar to the Ney or modern day Xiao. The flutes in the front are an ancient set of panpipes and the stand to the left appear to be made of animal bone.  (to be continued)

 

end blown flutes

end blown flutes

 

 

Travels Through China Part 1.

2009 December 14
The Oriental Angels

The Oriental Angels

In 2007, I had the privilege of playing a concert at the recently relocated and beautifully renovated historic Shanghai Concert Hall. Yes, I did say relocated, as the Shanghai local government spent six million dollars to jog the hall over two blocks. This concert hall was in the 1979 documentary Mao to Mozart with violinist Isaac Stern. Our performance was part of the Shanghai International Spring Music Festival and featured my band along with The Oriental Angels, which is a traditional classical instrumental music group chosen from the top female virtuosos from across China. They play the Chinese erhu (2 string violin) the dizi (6 holed bamboo flute) yangqin (hammered dulcimer) zheng (21 string zither) and the pipa (4 string lute). Aside from concertizing, the Angels all teach music in either the Central or Shanghai Conservatories.

I stayed a week after the show to do some sightseeing. As I am always looking for new instruments, I asked my promoter if they could take me to a musical instrument factory. They obliged me and took me to The Dunhuang Musical Instrument Co., Ltd. makers of traditional Chinese instruments in Fengxian District of Shanghai.

Dunhuang makes a wide range of instruments including traditional strings (guzheng, yangqin, pipa, erhu etc.), woodwinds (dizi, bawu, xiao, hulusi etc.) and percussion. For me as a flute enthusiast, it was rather like Charlie finding the gold ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory.

We were met by the shop foreman Mr. Zhao Jin-gua and taken to the woodwind workshop upstairs. The craftsmen at the factory had all seen my concert the night before and said they really enjoyed it, however, those flutes I played by their competitor flute makers in Northern China just wouldn’t do. I was very impressed that they were not only producing old designs but also developing new ones like flutes with a curved headjoints similar to the silver bass flute. It was here that I got to try the world’s biggest Chinese dizi flute. It produced a very low quiet tone. Since it requires three people to operate it is not really practical for the road.

World's biggest Chinese Dizi Bamboo flute

World's biggest Chinese Dizi Bamboo flute

After the visit with the flute makers I went downstairs to the showroom to see the finished products. When I walked though the door a very determined young lady was in the midst of negotiating full tilt with the slightly annoyed salesman to get a bigger discount on a guzheng (Chinese zither). She was talking up a storm and kept saying she travelled a long way and spent many hours on the train to get there. The salesman then looked up at me and smiled and said, “He came all the way from Canada, so what is your point”? The storm cleared up and she quietly retreated to the corner to think of a restructured battle plan.