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Korean Traditional Music


Korean Traditional Music has two main categories:  the music once popular in court and the music popular among the people. Popular music comes in several varieties, including Korean style opera, and the music which accompanies mask dances and shamanistic rituals.  But the most often performed is far and away Nong-ak or Farmer's Music.  In Nong-ak the instruments are relatively affordable and as few as four people can put on a great show.  There is no set number of musicians required.  Though lines are increasingly blurred, with some performers integrating singing, guitar or drums from other countries into the performances, the classic style is called Poongmool. Poongmool however is not as well known a name as Sammulnori.  The name Sammulnori was coined in the late seventies when a group of four men (led by Kim Duk-soo and Yi Gwang-su) on four instruments (buuk or barrel drum, janggu or hourglass drum, jjing or large gong and kwaengwari or small gong) blasted onto the musical scene.   The original Sammulnori group did not copyright the name and today it is often used to describe (depending on who you ask) either professional poongmool groups or groups which sit when they play, focusing on intricate rhythms.  I prefer the latter definition.  The groups which dance and play often include other instruments, chief among them the so-go, which isn't so much a noise-maker as a small drum that dancers can gesture with.




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                     Portrait of Ho-geun                      


                  Performance By Nalmwae Buuk Dance Troupe                           

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Court Style Dancers

Korean Life