The koto and shakuhachi are two Japanese musical instruments that produce mesmerizing and beautiful sounds. The koto is a plucked zither or harp that is related to other Asian instruments such as the Chinese zheng and the Korean kayagum. The shakuhachi is a an end-blown five hole Japanese flute that is traditionally made out of bamboo and has been used in Zen meditation for centuries. Duo En, based in the United States, fell in love with the sounds of these two evocative instruments and have released a collection of scenic instrumental recordings that feature koto and shakuhachi duos.
Duo En are John and Elizabeth Falconer. They met when they began studying Japanese in 1974. John and Elizabeth fell in love with each other, then fell in love with Japan and its music. The couple lived in Japan for over a decade, studying Japanese music from master teachers including Sakata Ryozan, Sawai Kazue, Sawai Tadao, and Igarashi Ryozan. Currently, the duo makes music for film and TV and tours throughout the northwestern United States.
The three recordings by the group include traditional and contemporary Japanese music as well as popular songs and Christmas music. Moonviewing celebrates the cherry blossoms and is primarily focused on Japanese music. Affinity ventures into new territory with the addition of music from other countries, such as the Latin American piece "Danza Lucumi." Winter Cranes is a Christmas album that includes original material as well as classic Christmas favorites.