Music has been one of the greatest healing forces in my life. When I say healing I don't mean an intoxicating state where I forget all my problems and run away from my responsibility. Music has healed me by helping bring me back to reality. Practicing and performing music in many different contexts gives me the strength to face my life and my interpersonal relationships.
I started playing trumpet when I was 12 and have been playing shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and studying North Indian vocals for the last several years. Through the practice of these ancient musical traditions I have found that music can exist in the realm of spiritual practice. The music and repertoire of the shakuhachi and of North India Classical music are the living proof of this to me.
The shakuhachi was played by monks, called Komuso, who were part the Fuke sect of Rinzai Zen during the Edo period in Japan. The music was used as a meditative practice call Sui-Zen (blowing meditation). The Zen music for the shakuhachi is called Honkyoku (pieces of origin), and dates back almost 1000 years.
Indian classical music is one of the oldest musical traditions on the planet. Raga is a melodic architecture that conveys profound emotional colors. It unfolds in a non-rhythmic section called an Alap and over rhythmic cycles called Tala.
I have humbly committed myself to the endless road of studying these traditions, in parallel with my commitment to Zen practice in order to liberate myself and others from suffering through greed, anger and ignorance.
Since moving to New York from Montreal, Canada, Aaron Ryuko Shragge has performed with multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter, Jon Gibson, The Sam Roberts Band, drummer Ken Shalk, Akim Funk Buddha, and Medeski Martin and Wood's Billy Martin at such venues as Symphony Space, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, The Blue Note, CBGB's and the Tenri Cultural Institute, in addition to an appearance on Billy Martin’s Record “Starlings.” Aaron's first film score for the documentary “Instructions to the Cook,” a film about Bernie Glassman, premiered at the Maezumi Institute in October 2006.
Aaron has a BFA in Jazz and Contemporary Music from New School University. He will be also be completing the Healing Arts Therapies Certificate program from New School University in summer 2009. He has studied improvisation with Kenny Werner, and is currently studying trumpet with Laurie Frink, Shakuhachi with Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin and North Indian vocals with Michael Harrison. Aaron has also had the great honor of studying with Japanese Shakuhachi Master Yoshio Kurahashi and Indian Vocal Guru Mashkoor Ali Khan.