Gayageum Byeongchang (A Voice with Gayageum)
“Jebinojeonggi (The Travelogue of the Swallow)”
Welcome to the second episode of <Gugak Wednesdays: Online Korean Music Concerts>!
May 15th is Korea’s Teachers’ Day. In Korea, students give carnation flowers to their teachers as a thank you, and they also sing the song “Teacher’s Grace” together. In addition, May 15th is also the International Day of Families proclaimed by the United Nations.
In this second concert, we present a Gayageum Byeongchang (A Voice with Gayageum), “Jebinojeonggi (The Travelogue of the Swallow),” which includes a theme of eunhye (“grace” or “blessing”) with appreciation and love for our teachers, parents, and grandparents.
“Jebinojeonggi” is from a famous pansori work <Heungboga (Song of Heungbo)>. It depicts the swallow’s travelogue from the southern part of China to Heungbo’s house in Korea. The story centers around the swallow, after recovering from a serious injury the previous year with Heungbo’s help, the swallow flies its way back to Heungbo the next Spring with a special gift of lucky gourd seeds to thank him and repay his favor. The song describes various popular places along the swallow’s journey.
When you listen to this music, it is easy to imagine the swallow flying over the blue sky freely while enjoying the beautiful spring weather. The rhythm of the music is fast and dynamic, and the way that the lyrics express the diverse site names and landscapes are fun to listen to.
Let’s follow along the path of the swallow through its journey across Korea to arrive at Heungbo’s house on an imaginary trip through the peninsula!
The Gayageum Byeongchang refers to a music genre in which the gayageum player plays a gayageum while singing a folk song or a piece of pansori at the same time. “Jebinojeonggi” is one of the finest pieces of gayageum byeongchang from the famous scene of the pansori <Heungboga>.
On May 15th, how about sharing this musical piece with your teachers, parents, friends, or neighbors who have helped you as a token of gratitude? Just as the spring weather that has finally arrived, we hope the swallow will fly to New York with good news!
Gayageum (Plucked twelve-string board zither)
The gayageum is a plucked board zither made of paulownia wood with movable bridges called anjok (wild crane feet) over which 12 twisted silk strings are stretched. There are two kinds of traditional gayageum that differ in size and construction: the beopgeum or pungnyu gayageum used for court music, and the sanjo gayageum used for sanjo and folk music.
Today, there are so-called “improved” gayageum, which can have 13, 17, 18, 21, 22, or 25 strings; these strings are also sometimes made from materials other than twisted silk.
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