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The Korean Singer of Tales

Author: ,
Translated by:
Publisher: , 1994.
Link to online store *

Publisher description:

P’ansori, the traditional oral narrative of Korea, is sung by a highly trained soloist to the accompaniment of complex drumming. The singer both narrates the story and dramatizes all the characters, male and female. Performances require as long as six hours and make extraordinary vocal demands. In the first book-length treatment in English of this remarkable art form, Marshall Pihl traces the history of p’ansori from its roots in shamanism and folktales through its nineteenth-century heyday under highly acclaimed masters and discusses its evolution in the twentieth century. After examining the place of p’ansori in popular entertainment and its textual tradition, he analyzes the nature of texts in the repertoire and explains the vocal and rhythmic techniques required to perform them.

Pihl’s superb translation of the alternately touching and comic “Song of Shim Ch’ong”—the first annotated English translation of a full p’ansori performance text—illustrates the emotional range, narrative variety, and technical complexity of p’ansori literature. The Korean Singer of Tales will interest not only Korean specialists, but also students of comparative literature, folklore, anthropology, and music.

LKL says:

Read this before watching Im Kwon-Taek’s Sopyonje. It’s an extremely valuable introduction to Pansori styles and rhythms, and contains a translation of the Shimchong-ga, the story of Blind Man Shim and his filial daughter. A number of excerpts from this story is performed in the film and it helps to know the story a bit.

LKL rating: score-2score-2score-2score-2score-0

Entry on Goodreads.com here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.