About Komuso

Share the joy

Who is Komuso Tokugawa?

Komuso is my online musician virtual alter ego (or Avatar), born in SecondLife in 2005 where I was one of the first musicians to start performing live music streaming to virtual audiences.

When you registered for SecondLife they gave you a list of last names to choose from, but you could choose your own first name. At the time I was learning Shakuhachi,  a traditional end blown Japanese Bamboo flute played by Zen monks known as Komuso, so I chose Komuso as my first name as it resonated with a few things I was working on. The Komuso had an interesting history during the period of the Tokugawa Shogunate so Tokugawa seemed like a good choice as a last name.

Real music for a virtual world is a great article from 2009 that explains a little about this virtual world music scene.

What styles of music do I play?

“The blues is the human condition, Blues is life or truth as has been said, and encompasses the whole spectrum of human emotion from despair to joy.”

I’m very much grounded in traditional acoustic and electric blues, but I’m also deeply invested in other world music traditions that reflect the human condition that blues music embodies.

Blues itself is quite a broad tradition, but as a slide/harmonica player/singer I’m particularly attracted to the styles of:

Slide Guitar
  • Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and others from the Delta blues
  • Hound Dog Taylor and others from the dirty Chicago blues
  • Junior Kimbrough, R.L.Burnside and others from the Mississippi Hill Country Trance Blues
  • Ry Cooder, David Lindley etc from modern slide guitar
  • Too many fine players to mention, across many styles of blues and modern music.

My world music tastes span Reggae, Gypsy, Fado, Soukos, West African griot styles, Middle Eastern, indie alt rock to ambient trance electronica. I’ve even “invented” some new hybrid genres such as as Bluestronica, Grunge Blues, and Reggae Blues to describe some of these musical experiments.

If I had to describe it in a short sentence I’d say it’s all about Groove, Tone, and Story.
(even instrumentals can tell you a story…)

One of my fans wrote this about me which I think describes my style best:
“Komuso Tokugawa’s approach to the blues is unique. The rough-around-the-edges sound is often described as ‘dirty’, ‘grungy’ or ‘alternative’. Highly experimental, Komuso takes influences from world music and wraps them around the emotionally charged blues core to create his sound.”

Another fan’s view:
Komuso plays the blues the way it oughta be played, with an edge and a throatiness that tells its own tales.

I’m also deeply interested in music technology and new music genres across all boundaries.

What instruments do I play?

I sing and play slide guitar mainly (with a dose of finger style and pick), Harmonica (mainly in a rack), Shakuhachi, and electronics of different types and control interfaces.

I also developed a dynamically controlled AI rhythm section as backing for playing online:

I’m also a producer/developer of educational apps , including the benchmark Harmonica training app HarpNinja.