Daegeum Sanjo (Won Jang-hyeon School)
Welcome to the seventh episode of <Gugak Wednesdays: Online Korean Music Concerts>.
June 20th is the Summer solstice this year. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is the day when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky and it is also the day with the longest period of daylight. We can say that it is the point that marks the true beginning of the summer season.
We present “Daegeum Sanjo” today, which is even better music when you listen to it in the summer.
“Daegeum Sanjo” is a folk solo instrumental music played with daegeum, and is also called the “flower” or “pinnacle” of folk music for its uniquely artistic qualities.
The daegeum is a representative Korean traditional woodwind instrument. It is a long bamboo transverse flute with a mouth hole (chwigu), a membrane hole (cheonggong), six finger holes (jigong), and tuning modulation holes (chilseong gong). Daegeum is very unique because it has a membrane hole called cheonggong that is not found in other instruments. Cheonggong is used to create a unique buzzing sound by attaching the inner skin of reeds called cheong.
Sanjo literally means “scattered melodies.” It is a Korean traditional folk solo instrumental music genre. It comprises of a set of related pieces for solo melodic instruments and drums. A performance typically begins with a slow but steadily repeating 18/8 rhythmic cycle, jinyangjo. The music segues through a series of increasingly faster movements in compound meters, each following, and each named after, a specific rhythmic cycle: the medium-paced jungmori, moderately fast jungjungmori, and the fast jajinmori. Also, a wide range of emotions can be expressed in sanjo because various musical modes are used.
“Daegeum Sanjo” expresses a variety of melodies ranging over three-octaves. It conveys a unique beauty thanks to the special cheong, the vibrating membrane sound of the daegeum using various vibrato styles.
While listening to “Daegeum Sanjo,” we recommend you to imagine that you are sitting in the shadow of a lush bamboo forest, feeling the cool breeze blowing through the trees.
We hope that the clear, woody sounds of the daegeum will be able to blow away the sweltering heat of the soon-arriving summer.
Daegeum (Long transverse flute)
The daegeum, a wind instrument from the Silla period, has a famous origin according to Korean folklore.
In the period of King Sinmun of the unified Silla, there was a bamboo tree that became two in the day and one in the night. One day, a dragon told the King and told him to cut down the bamboo tree and make it into a flute. This bamboo flute had a magical power. When this flute was blown, the enemy forces would disappear, sick people were healed, the drought ended with rain, and the winds and waves became calm. The King called this flute manpasikjeok, meaning “a wind instrument to silence all worries and bring peace to the country.”
© 2020 Korean Cultural Center New York. All rights reserved.
*This content was produced based on the original performance video of the National Gugak Center and a description of the work.
Daegeum (long transverse flute) performed by Won Wan-cheol
Janggu (hourglass-shaped drum) performed by Yun Jae-yeong
Venue: Pungnyusarangbang Theater, National Gugak Center, Seoul, Korea
Source: National Gugak Center