The shakuhachi retranslated: an exploration, expansion, and evaluation of new instrumental capabilities through the collaborative creation of new works for the Kingma System C flute.

Gavin Stewart

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

4 Downloads (Pure)


This research project creates a new methodology for repertoire creation that explores the capabilities and benefits of the Kingma System when applied to the retranslation of shakuhachi techniques. A novel, three-stage framework is applied demonstrating: the use of transcription to discover; re-interpretation to solidify; and repertoire creation to creatively use instrumental techniques including alternate fingerings and multiphonics. The research takes place in the context of my own practice as a performer-composer and is presented through recordings of transcriptions of traditional shakuhachi repertoire, modification of existing music, and the seven new works created. These recordings are accompanied by this thesis.

The thesis is separated into two parts: the first concerns itself with understanding the shakuhachi and its already established role as a source of inspiration for western flute compositions. This is done through transcribing shakuhachi repertoire and discovering techniques that use the affordances of the Kingma System flute before putting them into practice through re-interpreting Kazuo Fukushima’s Shun San. The collaborative relationships entered during this research are assessed and scrutinised in the second part where I offer a new graphic interpretation of collaboration and create a spectral view of the relationships based on a pre-existing model of musical collaboration between composer and performer. This part also investigates the resultant body of new repertoire for flute and electronics, exploring techniques that are derived from earlier stages of the research as the sounds of the shakuhachi are retranslated into new and diverse musical contexts.

Combined, the submitted recorded practice and thesis document the process of understanding a new instrument’s capabilities through focussed application and repertoire creation, providing a model for future research that can be applied to any instrument.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Dullea, Mary, Supervisor
  • Stobart, Henry, Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Flute
  • Music
  • collaboration
  • Kingma System
  • transcription
  • performance
  • timbre
  • extended techniques

Cite this