(Countée Cullen, “Heritage”, 1925)

“African Memories” is a series of 3 compositions for solo shakuhachi, exploring my African Roots and answering this question:

What is Africa to me?


Hélène Seiyu “African Memories” CD 2020

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  1. Tambin
  2. Gorée – La Porte du Non-Retour
  3. Baobab – L’Âme du Griot

“Tambin” is the name of an African (Peul) transverse flute. Each time I hear it, its sounds takes me back to my country of birth, Senegal. It is the flute sound I was born with. In this shakuhachi solo composition, I explore and mix some specific techniques of both flutes (Tambin and Shakuhachi), to express their deep connection in me.

Premiered at the International Shakuhachi Festival of Prague in 2019.

Image & Editing: Alexandra Maiuga

#2 GORÉE – La Porte du Non-Retour

En mémoire des esclaves déportés depuis l’Ile de Gorée (Sénégal)

This piece is a prayer in memory of the victims of African slavery who were deported from the island of “Gorée”, located a couple of kilometres from Dakar (Senegal), where I was born. On this island was built the House of Slaves and its “Door of No Return”, which is now a memorial to the Atlantic Slave Trade. When I visited this island 30 years ago, I heard a flutist playing in the deserted streets and it inspired me this composition.

Premiered at the International Shakuhachi Festival of Prague in 2019.

Image & Editing: Alexandra Maiuga

#3 BAOBAB – L’Âme du Griot

“Quand un griot meurt, c’est une bibliothèque qui brûle.”
Amadou Hampâté Bâ
(Discours à l’Unesco 1960, librement adapté).

There is another legend saying that “griots” were buried in the hollow trunk of a baobab. While listening to the wind in the branches, you could hear him talk.
This piece for shakuhachi 2.4 explores wind and wood sounds, to capture the spirit of the death of a griot.

Baobab is dedicated to my master FUKUDA Teruhisa.


This is my other current composition project in Honkyoku style. I have composed 5 pieces at the moment, but the series is not complete yet. When all the pieces are finished and recorded, the scores will be available.
Stay tuned!

  1. Fukurō (Owl)
  2. Simplicity
  3. Reflection
  4. Acceptance
  5. Joy

1. Fukurō (Owl)

This is my first composition (2017) and it was commissioned by the puppeteer Lejo, for his show “Hands on!”.
Played as a honkyoku, it refers to the quietness of a deep night.

2. Simplicity

Inspired by the traditional honkyoku “Kyorei“, this piece requires a deep stillness of the mind. It can be played on both Jiari of Jinashi shakuhachi.

Hélène Seiyu’s composition Simplicity played on Jinashi Shakuhachi

3. Reflection

“Sit by a quiet pond and look at the reflection of the trees in the water. Become aware of watching yourself and your thoughts“. This is my way to meditate on pure consciousness.
The piece is based on octaves and tritons (musical intervals) as expression of symmetry and balance.

4. Acceptance

This piece was inspired by a 2.8 Jinashi shakuhachi, a flute with a fragile and intimate sound. When I play it, this flute teaches me how to accept its limits, and my own limits. 
Acceptance is a key to Happiness.

5. Joy

Joy is a key feeling for happiness. Inner Joy is not affected by struggles, suffering and disappointment.
As we say in French “Après la pluie, le beau temps.”


You can order the scores of my compositions through this website. As soon as I receive your payment, I will send you a PDF of the score.

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10 Easy Pentatonic Melodies

Shakuhachi Music for beginners. 6 melodies in the first register (Otsu) + 4 melodies in Otsu and Kan.

10.00 €


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