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Korean traditional music world embraces change

Posted April. 07, 2021 07:22,   

Updated April. 07, 2021 07:22


The Korean traditional music community, which used to put emphasis on strict hierarchy and group activity, has been changing. National traditional music institutions and organizations are also producing content that highlights individuality, creativity, and star quality and they are being loved by the general public. A drop in the number of group performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic also served as a catalyst for change.

In the video, Go Kyung-hwa, the youngest percussionist of the National Gugak Center (NGC)’s Jeong Orchestra, shows what is inside her instrument case. Then she gives the viewers a tour of the center and introduces her own stretching routine and unfamiliar Korean percussion instruments, such as chuk, eoh, yeongdo, and nogo.

The NGC is introducing the work and daily lives of its members in a friendly and casual manner in vlog videos. “We tried to share some performing tips of our performers that are not only unfamiliar to the general public but also to Korean traditional music majors, and introduce their lives. By doing so, we wanted to show the star qualities and individuality of our members and introduce Korean traditional music to young generations in a friendly manner,” said an NGC official. These vlog series, which feature members from the dance troupe, folk music orchestra, and creative music orchestra of the NGC, have attracted the attention of viewers at home and abroad, garnering 2,000-6,000 views per a video.

The National Orchestra of Korea (NTOK) is producing a video series called “Samsamorock,” which features collaboration performance between the orchestra and two to five artists from the outside. The orchestra members perform at various places, ranging from the Seodaemun Prison History Hall to a lodge on Ganghwado Island. They collaborate in unique ways with artists outside the orchestra, such as electronic musicians and choreographers. “The members of the orchestra are enthusiastic about the video series since they do not have many chances to reveal their individuality” said chief producer Chae In-young. “We are planning to produce more video content.”

The vlogs of the NGC focused on familiarity while the video series of the NTOK put emphasis on quality. The NTOK mixed the beautiful scenery of nature and its sound with daegeum and haegeum duet, and cross-edited them in high definition in its last month episode titled, “Relationship.” Performance director Jeong Jong-im and film director Iwa were in charge of directing and filming.

Some members participated in music composition as well as performance. NTOK percussionist Kim Ye-seul performed and co-composed music in two episodes of Samsamorock. “We consider each member as an artist, so many of them want to show their individual skills. Since we usually follow the direction of the orchestra or perform according to the intention of the composer, we are glad to have these opportunities, where we can focus on our personal taste and artistry.”

The NGC is recruiting a video creator for the first time in its 70-year history. The recruited Korean traditional music creators will receive content production education and production cost from the newly-established “Gugak Artist Lab.” Individuals and groups over the age of 19, who majored in Korean traditional music, can apply for the job. Applications are submitted by e-mail (dekebi@korea.kr) and post from April 16 to 20.