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However, the term Gugak has been used to refer to Korean traditional music since the 1500s.
According to recent historians, the definition of Gugak is “that unique Korean music or Korean classical music,” 13 and “Korean traditional music composed for Korean instruments such as Geomungo, Gayageum, and Piri.” 14 Throughout history, the definition has changed slightly to have different meanings in each period, and Gugak itself is not an exception. However, Gugak can definitely be taken to mean Korean traditional music, in both it’s the modern and historical forms.
According to the long history of Korean music, traditional music can be categorized many ways, according purpose, audience, and historical origin. In the beginning of the Chosun dynasty (1392-1897), Korean traditional music was classified into two categories: court music, for nobility and the royal court, and folk music. Court music specifically was divided further into three categories: A-ak, Dang-ak, and Hyang-ak. 15It was also divided into two different categories by Korean musicologist Hye-Gu Lee as Chung-ak and Minsog-ak. In the following paragraphs I will explain A-ak, Chung-ak, and Minsog-ak.
13 Tae-Ryong Son. EumakilanMooutinga [What is Music].Kyungsan: Youngnam University Publishing Co, 2006: 382.
14 Chang-Nam Kim. Norae,vol. 4. Seoul: SilchunMunhaksa, 1993: 60.
15 Tae-Woong Baek. Gukgakyongahaesuljip[Gugak term explanation book]. Seoul: Bogosa, 2007: 23-26.
A-ak is originally from the Song dynasty of China and refers to court music. The broad term refers to all court music genres including ritual and banquet music. It was introduced in 1116 in Korea, and King Sejong of the Chosun Dynasty reestablished and revived it with Park Yeon, a music thoerist. Simplicity, tranquility, and emotional restraint are general features of Aak. A-ak is classified into three categories. The first is Chereak, which is the ritual music in court. The second one is Chwita, processional music for the king. The last one is Yeonleak, banquet music at court. Dang-ak is the term for all Chinese music imported from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) to Korea. In contrast, the term Hyang-ak contains a combination of native Korean music and some Chinese music.
II. Chung-ak (정악) Chung-ak is a different kind of court music from the Chosun Dynasty for the aristocracy and intellectuals. Chung-ak is elegant, lengthy, and restrained in a slow tempo. It is divided into instrumental chamber music and vocal music. Yongsan Hoesang is the most representative chamber music work and contains nine movements without any break. Vocal music is divided into three different types: Gagok (song cycle), Kasa (narrative song), and Sijo (lyric song).
III. Minsog-ak (민속악) In contrast with Chung-ak, Minsog-ak means folk music for the general population and the lower classes. The expression of human emotions such as joy, sadness, and happiness was emphasized. Therefore, general features of Minsog-ak include faster tempi and sentimental,
pansori (narrative song), minyo (regional folk song), nong-ak (farmer’s percussion bands), and sanjo(solo instrumental music).
A characteristic common to most of the vocal and instrumental genres in Korean traditional music is the frequent repetition or variation of small motives woven together through 16 melismas. Park focused on Minsog-ak, especially minyo (folk song), in his works, along with dotted rhythms, pulsed rhythmic patterns, and expressions of emotion.
Korean traditional music uses twelve notes in one octave divided by half steps, similar to the chromatic scale of Western music, a collection of tones called Yul. Each of the twelve tones is called as follows: Hwang-Jong, Tae-Ryo, Tae-Joo, Hyup-Jong, Ko-Sun, Joong-Ryo, Yoo-Bin, Im-Jong, Yi-Chic, Nam-Ryo, Moo-Yeok, Eung-Jong, and Chung-hwang-Jong. Even though the Yul system is similar to the scale system of Western music, the twelve Yuls’ first note, Hwang, could be C or Eb, depending on the different instruments or genres according to different tuning schemes and figure 2-1 and 2 shows of these two Yul systems.
Figure. 2-1 The twelve Yul: Hwang=C 17 16 YoungdaeYoo. “Isang Yun: His Compositional Technique as Manifested in the Two Clarinets Quintets” PhD diss., Louisiana State University, 2000: 29.
According to the Akhakkwebeom, 19 the modes of Korean music are divided into two types, based on a pentatonic scale system: Pyong-Jo and Kyemyon-Jo. As shown in figure 2-3, the Pyong-Jo,which consists of five tones with intervals of a major second, minor third, major second, and major second, expresses the moods of joy and calm and can be seen as similar to the major tonality in Western music. A vibration on the first note, called Yo-sung, and downward curve on the second and fifth notes, called Tae-sung, are general performance features of PyongJo.
Figure. 2-3 Pyong-Jo 20 The Kyemyon-Jo, which consists of five tones with intervals of a minor third, major second, major second, and minor third, expresses the mood of sadness or tragedy and is similar
the main features. Since the late eighteenth century, three or four notes have been frequently used, rather than five notes and figure 2-4a, b and c show three different note scales.
a) b) c) Figure. 2-4 Kyemyon-Jo 21 a) five-note scale b) four-note scale c) three-note scale
A unique rhythmic pattern, the Jangdan meaning of long and short, is basic organizational elements of Korean music. The rhythmic patterns are usually played using two different drum sounds and the main instruments are an hourglass drum (Janggo) and a barrel drum (Buk). The Janggo is generally used for sanjo (solo instrumental music), minyo (regional
(farmer’s percussion bands). The Janggo is played with a wooden stick in the right hand and with the palm of the left hand. The name of the left side is Buk-pyeon, called Kung as an oral sound. The name for the right side is Che-pyeon, called Ttok as an oral sound. Figure 2-5 shows performance method of Janggo.
Figure. 2-5 performance method of Janggo 22 22 Hae-Seung Ban, Juntong eumak iron [Korean traditional music theory]. Seoul: Doseo Chulpan Donam, 1999: 38.
Ssang or Hap- jangdan is played with both the left hand and the right hand together. The technique of Ko is playing with only the left hand, and Pyon and Yo are playing only with the right hand with a wooden stick. The Janggo can play various Jangdan and can be used in various Jangdan, not only the simple rhythmic patterns but also for very complicated rhythmic patterns, by applying the four basic techniques. 23 Generally, Jangdan is divided into two types: Chong-Ak Jangdan, used in Korean traditional court music, and Minsok Jangdan, used in folk music. Chong-Ak Jangdan is mostly slow, with long sequences of beats, and simple, with a basic pattern with almost no ornamentation from beginning to end. On the other hand, Minsok Jangdan has a variety of rhythm changes in basic patterns and short and complicated sequences, from a very slow tempo to a fast tempo. Generally, Jangdan is in a triple meter, or group of three beats, and duple meters are rarely used.
As shown in figure 2-6a, the slowest pattern of Jangdan is Jinyangjo and it is used in sanjo and pansori. The Jinyangjo has one basic unit having six beats with a triple subdivision in 18/8. Four units, Ki, Kyoung, Kul, and Hae, comprise one complete Jinyangjo.
In a slightly faster tempo than Jinyangjo, Joongmori and it can be grouped into four units of three with duple subdivision in 12/4. Joongjoongmori in 12/8 is grouped into four units with triple subdivision. Each Jangdan has a specific tempo and its own characteristics. More
examples of Jangdan are as follows below in figure 2-4b, c, d, e, and f ordered by tempo:
Jangdan. The percussionist makes exclamations at the end of a passage or during pansori such as “eolsigu” or “jalhanda,” meaning “great job” or “good” in order to focus attention on the music and add an amusement. 24
Ornamentation is one of the important techniques in Korean traditional music. The Sigimsae, literally meaning “living tone,” is one of the essential performance techniques of Korean traditional instruments. It includes various embellishment motions for given notes.
Because Korean traditional music emphasizes the melodic line rather than harmony or counterpoint, notes performed using a unique technique such a Sigimsae are very special. The Sigimsae is classified into two categories: Nong-hyun (for string music) and Yosung (for vocal and wind music). Because Park’s works are almost all for string instruments, I will concentrate on Nong-hyun. Nong-hyun literally means “playing with strings,” and includes a diversity of Korean string instrument techniques, especially left hand techniques. It can resemble a combination of vibrato, glisando, and portamento in Western music. By comparison to Western vibrato, the vibration of Nong-hyun is wider, slower and deeper and as a result, expresses a more rounded and warmer sound.
In Korean traditional music, Nong-hyun has three types of patterns: Jeonseong, Chooseong and Toeseong. Jeonseong for string instruments implies vibrating the strings in order to make a solid sound instantaneously through pressing and releasing a string once on short notes that is within one beat. It is similar to appoggiatura in Western music, since it sometimes begins
an ascending glissando, and Toeseong is similar to a descending glissando or portamento with a half step or a whole step. While Chooseong and Toeseong are used both for instrumental and for vocal music, Jeonseong is a special technique only for string instruments, such as Gayageum and 25 Gomungo.
Due to the ornamental techniques, Korean traditional instruments produce deep, rounded and vibrant sounds. Another characteristic of Korean traditional music is the unique style of each performance, through a variety of ways of embellishing the main note before and after and emphasizing the improvisatory skills of performer. Figure 2-7a and b show various ways of embellishing the main note before and after.
Figure. 2-7 a) Prefix Sigimsae 25 Bang-Song Song. Hankookeumaktongsa [The History of Korean Music]. Seoul: Minsokwon, 2007: 481.
Korean traditional instruments such as strings, woodwinds, and percussion have a variety of kinds of performance techniques and shapes. Generally, Korean traditional instruments are classified into two categories by their origins: Dangaki and Hyangaki. Instruments of Dangaki originated in China and were transformed for Korean traditional music, and Hyangaki refers to instruments that originated in Korea. Because Park focused on composing and arranging his works for string instruments, I will present the five most popular Korean traditional string instruments: Ajaeng, Haegeum, Gayageum,Yanggeum and Gomungo. Ajaeng and Hageumare performed with bow. Gomungo and Yanggeum are played with a small stick. Gayageum is played using the fingers to control and adjust its strings.
The Ajaeng has two different types and it is divided by size of instrument: Dae-Ajaeng (JoengakAjaeng) and So-Ajaeng (Sanjo- Ajaeng). The prefixes Dae means “big” and So means “small,” referring to the size of the instruments. The two Ajaengs have different features, the different number of strings being one of them. Dae-Ajaeng has seven strings, and So-Ajaeng has ten strings. Also, the register of So-Ajaeng is one octave higher than Dae-Ajaeng. Generally, the range of the Dae-Ajaeng is from Ab2 to Bb3 and the So-Ajaeng is from G2 to A4. Ajeang, especially Dae-Ajaeng, belong to the lower pitch instruments among, and it is an essential instrument for a full-size ensemble. Originally, Ajaeng produces sound by playing the seven silk strings with a bow made of peeled forsythia wood. Thus, its sound is stronger, tougher, and a more solemn tone compared to the bow with horsehair. 27 Figure 2-8a and b show Dae-Ajaeng and So-Ajaeng.
Figure. 2-8 a) Dae-Ajaeng 28
b) So-Ajaeng 29 II. Haegeum The Haegeum is used for both court music and folk music. During the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392), the Haegeum was introduced from China (Dangaki), and it became one of the most popular string instruments. 30 Haegeum has two strings tuned approximately a perfect fifth apart.
As shown in figure 2-9, it does not have a fingerboard and produces sound by rubbing the bow between two strings. The performer plays by pulling strings with the left hand to adjust pitch and repeatedly pressing and releasing strings slightly or deeply. These playing methods of Haegeum make it easier to freely express the Nong-hyun technique. Haegeum is the only instrument that has all eight types of sounds, since it is made from eight materials: gold, rock, silk thread, 28 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Ajaeng#mediaviewer/File:Ajaeng.jpg. Wikimedia Commons. Accessed 3 November 2014.
29 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Ajaeng#mediaviewer/File:Sanjo-ajaeng.jpg. Wikimedia Commons. Accessed 3 November 2014.
30 Sung-Jae Lee. Woori gugakiyagi [our gugak story]. Seoul: SeohaeMoongip, 2006: 237.
orchestral ensembles, dance music accompaniment, and wind ensembles due to its various tone colors. The sound of Haegeum is similar to a muted violin: soft, light, high, and with a voice-like range. 32 Among the many kinds of Korean traditional instruments, Haegeum is one of very few instruments that use a bow. Moreover, it is a fundamental bowed instrument because it plays the main themes for many Korean traditional music ensembles, as opposed to wind instruments, which usually play main themes in Korean traditional music. 33 Figure. 2-9 Haegeum 34 31 Lee 2004, 223.
32 Lee 2004, 224.
Sa-Hun Chan, Gugakchongron [A general theory of gugak]. Seoul: Saekwang Umak Chuulpansa, 1985: