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Event news: K-music 2015 — Korean National Gugak Centre, 30 Sept

The final concert in K-music 2015. And the programme ends with a lively sinawi. Good choice.

K-Music: Korean National Gugak Centre

Wednesday 30 September | 7:30PM
LONDON Lilian Baylis Studio | Sadler’s Wells | Rosebery Avenue | London EC1R 4TN
£15 + Booking fee

National Gugak Centre

The Korean National Gugak Centre is one of the great arts companies of Korea, and this performance concentrates on Sanjo – that’s a style of instrumental music accompanied by a drum and sometimes by dancers, starting slowly and gathering speed, with a structure that allows for virtuosic improvisation. This evening shows off some of the great traditional instruments of Korean traditional music such as the geomungo (large zither), daegeum (transverse flute) and haegeum (Korean fiddle). This is the last date on the group’s European tour, and provides a fitting conclusion to the K-Music Festival.


Cheonnyeonmanse Daegeum: KIM Young Hun
Piri: LEE Jongmoo
Haegeum: CHUN Eunhye
Geomungo: LEE Sunhwa
Janggu: CHO Sungwook
10′ Court Music
(Geomungo Dance)
Geomungo: LEE Sunhwa
Janggu: JEONG Junho
Dance: KIM Chung woo
8′ Folk Dance
Daegeum Sanjo Daegeum: WON Wan Chul
Janggu: JEONG Junho
15′ Folk Music
Sanjo Dance,
Hwang Mubong style
Ajaeng: KIM Youngkil
Janggu: JEONG Junho
Dance: LEE Ju Ri
8′ Folk Dance
Suryongeum Saenghwang: LEE Jongmoo
Danso: KIM Young Hun
4′ Court Music
Sinawi Daegeum: WON Wan Chul
Geomungo: LEE Sunhwa
Ajaeng: KIM Youngkil
Janggu: JEONG Junho
25′ Folk Music


Sanjo is a genre of instrumental music accompanied by a rtiythmic instrument like the janggu or buk,with performances lasting anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour.
Initially, Sanjo began as a combination of improvisatory melodic fragments, but as a rhythmic framework moving from slow to fast developed, masters were able to create their own styles. The gayageum was the first instrument that developed this genre (Sanjo), which soon spread to daegeum and geomungo during the first half of the 20th century, and was later taken up by the instruments haegeum,piri, and ajaeng. As the genre developed for different instruments, each instrument came to have masters who developed their own schools, reaching their zenith in the latter part of the 20th century. Sanjo was greatly influenced by Pansori inasmuch as it is often dubbed “Pansori without voice.”


This refers to the three pieces performed at the end of Yeongsanhoesang, that is: Gyemyeon Garak Dodeuri, Yangcheong Dodeuri, and Ujo Garak Dodeuri. They move slow, fast, and then slow again. The three pieces were originally called “Dwit Pungnyu” as opposed to “Bon Pungnyu” which is the main body of Yeongsanhoesang from Sangyeongsan to Gunak. Dwit Pungnyu is also performed as an independent piece. Cheonnyeonmanse is a nickname for the NGC’s version of Dwit Pungnyu.

Daegeum Sanjo

Daegeum sanjo is the solo music for the daegeum. When the daegeum is played for sanjo, it employs a wide range that presents diverse melodic phrases. Especially, the techniques vary tones by flattening or sharpening at the end and rich vibrations are each remarkable characteristics of daegeum sanjo.

Sanjochum (Sanjo dance)

Sanjochum is a dance accompanied by the sanjo, one of the masterpieces of the folk music genres. The dance follows the characteristic of sanjo music which starts slowly and then gradually gains speed. The dance is primarily impromptu but includes traditional Korean elements and the colour.


Suryongeum, “a dragon in the water reciting a poem,” representing peace, is a court music piece that originated from the variations of the melodies of gagok,Pyeonrong and Gyerak, and Pyeonsudaeyeop, long lyric songs in a relatively fast tempo with a variety of melodic ornamentation. Both gagok and suryongeum were favored and performed by scholars in pungryubang,private salons for upper class men. Suryongeum is usually performed in an ensemble setting of wind and string instruments centering on the piri, or played in duet (byeongju) for either yanggeum and danso or saengwhang and danso (abbreviated, Sengso Beongju), popular for their beautiful harmonizing together.

Saengwhang consists of a resonant cup-shaped body and 17 bamboo tubes that are propped on a metal plate base. When air is blown through the mouthpiece, the metal plate vibrates; different notes (harmonies) are produced by stopping the finger holes in the lower part of the bamboo tubes, and the sound is considered to be mysterious. One of the saenghwang’s limitations is its relatively short resonance, but this is well complimented by the sound of the danso with its long sustained, clear timbre.


Sinawi is a form of instrumental ensemble music derived from Korea’s southern shamanic music. Southern shamanic music covers a large sphere ranging from the Honam area, South Chungcheong Province, the southern part of Gyeonggi Province to the coastal area of South Gyeongsang Province; this large sphere is also called °the sphere of Sinawi.” There used to be regional differences in Sinawi, but it is now performed more on the stage rather than at shamanic rituals. Musicians improvise within given rhythmic frameworks, and the instrumentation may vary according to the circumstance, as may rhythmic patterns, which usually follow the order of gutgeori — jajinmori — dongsalpuri.


(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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