Korea Tour, Korean Music, Arts, Crafts

Korea Tour

- Rest your mind and rejuvenate your soul in the land of the morning calm
- A country renowned for its rich cultural and aesthetic beauty.
- Begin a fantastic journey into the cultural traditions of the past - today!

Korean Traditional Music Station

- Quoted as “the sound that baptizes your soul”
- Unique tempo distribution
- Warm and soft tone color
- Calm and meditative character
- Listen samples

Online Gallery of Korean Arts and Crafts

- High quality pictures and detailed descriptions
- Art essays with in-depth information
- Unique handcrafted gifts

Monday, March 31, 2008

Samulnori - The Definitive Edition

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Samulnori ("samul" means "four things" and "nori" means "to play") is a percussion quartet comprised of a buk (barrel drum), a janggu (hourglass-shaped drum), a jing (gong), and a kkwaenggwari (small gong). Its rhythmic patterns are derived from pungmulgut (folk and religious music) or nongak (farmers' band music) which are performed outdoors with acrobatic and dance movements. Samulnori was created by extracting dynamical and elaborated rhythmic patterns from pungmulgut for indoor performance in 1978. The principle of samulnori is the alternation of tension and relaxation. While improvising rhythms based on several rhythmic patterns, the performers seek to achieve a perfect integration of the four percussion instruments.

Samulnori has performed all over the world and has collaborated with many highly acclaimed musicians from around the world from a variety of styles of music ranging from jazz to pop.

Samulnori play the harmony of cosmos linking up nature and human being in accordance with the rule of Yin and Yang's change. Each instrument is associated with an element in nature.

Kkwaenggwari (small gong) is made mainly of brass with trace of gold or silver. It is hand held and played with a bamboo mallet. One hand holds the mallet while the other hand is responsible for dampening the sound produced. The player of this instrument often plays the role of leader, signaling transitions in the music. As each instrument is associated with an element in nature, the kkwaenggwari is related to lightening.

The Jing is a large gong that is struck with a padded stick. This instrument can be played in a number of ways: hung on a frame, hand-held by handle, or played with two hands. Jing should make an osculating sound, imitating the shape of the valleys of Korea. Thus, Jing is associated with the wind.

The Janggu is often called the hourglass drum, referring to its shape. The drum has two sides, each with a different type of leather skin. One side produces a high pitched sound. This instrument is associated with rain.

The Buk is a barrel drum, made of a piece of hollow out wood and two leather skins tied to the wood. It is played by a single stick and provides the bass sounds of the group. The buk is related to the cloud.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Korean Court Music by Jeongnong Akhoe

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This CD leads to the wonderful world of Jeong-ak, a traditional Korean classical music. From folk songs to music of the royal court, Korea has a rich variety of unique traditional music that deserves to claim a prominent place in world music. Korean court music preserved to date can be traced to the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty in 1392. However, researches into the culture of the ancient Korean Three Kingdoms Period (57 B.C.-668 A.D., the period when the three ancient Korean kingdoms, Koguryo, Baekje and Silla, rivaled each other) indicate that many styles of court and folk music had already evolved to something like their present day form. Two pieces of music, included in this CD, have survived from this period: "Sujecheon" and "Dongdong."

Traditionally, Korean court music was instrumental and usually played for banquets using a wide variety of string, wind and percussion instruments. Sujecheon, a magnificent orchestral piece, is the most famous one of banquet music.

Korean classical music including court music, which was the music for the noble and upper class, has two distinct features. First, a leisurely tempo is a general feature of Korean classical music. In particular, most of the music that makes up the genre known as Jeong-ak has a slow tempo. The Korean musical sound can last as long as three seconds. Such a slow tempo gives music a distinctly calm, meditative character. The leisurely pace of some Korean music is due to the importance placed on breathing, with each beat being matched to the player's inhalation and exhalation. In this respect, Korean classical music differs markedly from Western music in which the beats occur at a tempo similar to the beating of the heart. In other words, Western music, based on a heart-beat tempo, tends (like the heart) to be active and progressive, whereas Korea's Jeong-ak genre of music, based on breathing, is sedate and contemplative.

Second, the tone color of Korean classical music in general is warm and soft. In fact, the timbre is so gentle that the fusion of tones and melodies does not result in discord. The gentle timbre of the music can be attributed to the fact that Korean instruments are made of nonmetallic substances. In the West, wind instruments such as the flute or clarinet are made of metal. In Korea, on the other hand, the wind instruments tend to be made of wood; even the stringed instruments have silk strings instead of wire. To this extent, Koreans like the warm and gentle feeling of natural materials.