Korea Tour, Korean Music, Arts, Crafts

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pansori Sugung-ga Part I by Nam Hae-Sung

Listen to Samples

This album leads to the wonderful world of Pansori, a traditional Korean art form combining storytelling and music, through the magnificent performance of a master Pansori singer Nam Hae-Sung. She particularly presents Sugung-ga (the song of the underwater palace), one of five extant Pansoris.

Sugung-ga is based on the story of the Dragon King of the Southern Sea, a turtle, and a wily rabbit. The king is suffering from an ailment that can be cured only with the liver of a rabbit. The King thereupon summons all the ministers to look for the liver of a rabbit on the ground. The turtle volunteers his service to journey to a forest and return with a rabbit. In Sugung-ga animals satirize beings, thus showing the world as it really is. From the expression of the various aspects of human nature through the music, the listener is able to hear the composer's consciousness and appreciate the perfection of his work.

The story is set in three different places: from the underwater palace to land, to the palace again and then back to land. The most beautiful music occurs in the third scene change where the hero, a rabbit, deceives the Dragon King and escapes. This part begins with the rabbit yelling, "Open my stomach?" (to remove his liver, which was thought to have medical qualities) to his cursing the turtle after arriving back on land. This part, in which the rabbit calls the turtle names, is made up of the unique musical idioms of Kyeongdurum, which is also called Kyeong-jo, refers to the supposed singing style of Seoul.

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