A new flute was invented in China. Discovering the subtle beauty of her sonority, a Japanese music teacher took her to her country, where she gave concerts everywhere. One night, he played with a community of musicians and music lovers who lived in a certain city. At the end of the concert, his name was announced. He took the new flute and played a piece. When he was finished, there was silence in the room for a long moment. Then, the voice of the oldest man in the community was heard from the back of the room: “Like a god!” The next day, when the master was preparing to leave, the musicians came to him and asked him how long it would take a skilled musician to learn to play the new flute. "Years," he replied. They asked him if he would accept a student, and he agreed.

After the master left, the men got together and decided to send him a young and talented flutist, a boy sensitive to beauty, dedicated and trustworthy. They gave him money to pay for his expenses and music lessons, and sent him to the capital, where the master lived. The student arrived and was accepted by the teacher, who taught him a single and simple melody.

At first, he received systematic instruction, but he soon mastered all technical problems. Now, he came to his daily class, sat down and played his tune - and all the teacher said to him was: "Something is missing". The student tried as hard as he could, practiced for hours, day after day, week after week, and all the master said to him was: "Something is missing". He begged the master to choose another song, but the answer was always “no”. For months and months, every day he played and heard “Something is missing”. The hope for success and the fear of failure were growing, and the student oscillated between agitation and discouragement. Finally, frustration overcame him. He packed up and left stealthily. He continued to live in the capital for a while longer, until his money ran out. He started drinking. Finally, impoverished, he returned to his native province. Ashamed to show himself to his former colleagues, he went to live in a hut outside the city. He still had his flute, he still played, but he no longer found any new inspiration in the music. Peasants who passed by heard him play and sent his children to him to give them music lessons. And so he lived for years.

One morning there was a knock on his door. He was the oldest master in the city, accompanied by his youngest student. They told him that there was going to be a concert that night and that everyone had decided they wouldn't play without him. After much effort to overcome his fear and shame, they managed to convince him, and it was almost in a trance that he picked up a flute and accompanied them. The concert has started. As he waited behind the stage, nothing disturbed his inner silence. Finally, at the end of the concert, his name was announced. He took the stage furiously. He looked at his hands and realized he had chosen the new flute. Now he knew he had nothing to gain and nothing to lose. He sat down and played the same melody he had played so many times for the master in the past. When it was over, there was silence for a long moment. Then the older man's voice was heard, sounding softly from the back of the room:

"Like a god!"


(History transcribed from Japanese folklore by Stephen Nachmanovitch. Livro: Being Creative – the power of improvisation in life and art. São Paulo: Summus, 1993.)

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