Until the middle of the last century the shakuhachi (lit. 'foot eight' – 1,8 foot = 54,5 cm) bamboo flute, nowadays something of a symbol of the Japanese musical tradition, functioned not as a musical instrument but primarily as a religious tool exclusive to the Zen Buddhist Fuke sect.
Doc. Vlastislav Matoušek, Ph.D. studied Composition and post-gradual courses in Musical Theory at the Academy of Performing Arts, the Faculty of Music in Prague where he has been teaching ethnomusicology since 1991. There he received his Ph.D. degree in theory of composition. Six months as a fellow of Japan Foundation he studied shakuhachi playing at Kifu Mitsuhashi and Japanese Traditional Music at Prof. Osamu Yamaguti in Japan (1996). Now he is associated professor of ethnomusicology and music theory at the Academy of Performing Arts and the Institute of Musicology of Charles University in Prague.
In his ethnomusicological research he focuses on Extra-European Cultures, exotic and folk musical instruments, rhythm and kinetics (The Rhythm and Time in Ethnic Music, Togga, Prague 2003). He is also active as a music journalist, working primarily for Czech Radio in Prague.
He is a composer of eccentric musical works that frequently make use of exotic instruments and electronics, and he demonstrates a preference for non-traditional expressive means and compositional procedures.
As a concert performer he plays shakuhachi honkyoku (CD Calligraphy - Angel 1999, CD Taki Ochi – Arta Rec. 2003) and presents his compositions for exotic and folk instruments from his own extensive collection, often in combination with electronics (CD Shapes of Silence - Transmusic 1994).
He plays East-Bohemian folk and medieval music on the historical Czech "moldánky" bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, platerspiel, hackbrett and other ancient and folk instruments with his own ensemble Schola Specialis.
Since 1979 he has been playing meditation and Orient inspired music on percussion and various other ethnic instruments (especially Indian tabla, Tibetan bowls and various folk flutes) in the group Relaxace (CD Dhjána, CD Kadael, CD Český kóan, CD Morning Prayer, CD Indian Inspiration etc.). He even occasionally participates in alternative rock music as composer, singer, bass guitarist and performer on various ethnic instruments.
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