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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.

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