“Zhao Yun Shooting Arrows” Scene from the pansori work
<Jeokbyeokga (Song of the Red Cliff)>
판소리 <적벽가(赤壁歌)> 중 “조자룡 활쏘는 대목”
Welcome to the fifth episode of <Gugak Wednesdays: Online Korean Music Concerts>.
June 6th is Korea’s 65th Memorial Day. It is a national holiday designated to honor the patriotic martyrs and soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country; we pray for their memory in reverence. Every year on June 6th, Koreans fly the national flag at half-staff. Also, at 10 am Korean time, people take a moment of silence for one minute followed by the 1-minute-long siren that resonates across the entire country.
Since Korea’s Memorial Day and commemorations for the outbreak of the Korean War (June 25th) all take place in June, it is designated as a month of national patriots and veterans in Korea. To commemorate the noble sacrifices made by Korea’s patriots and veterans of the past, we present “Zhao Yun Shooting Arrows” from the pansori work <Jeokbyeokga (Song of the Red Cliff)>. You can find the meaning of “chung (忠),” sincere loyalty to the nation in <Jeokbyeokga>.
<Jeokbyeokga> takes its thematic materials from a Chinese source, the famous Chibi Battle of China (208 CE) as described in the novel San Gou Zhi Yan Yi (The Tale of the Three Kingdoms) written by Lou Guan Zhong at the beginning of the Ming dynasty. Details in the Korean version of the work do have differing points from the original Chinese version. <Jeokbyeokga> is the only pansori work based on a fiction, and with the background of China.
“Zhao Yun Shooting Arrows” is one of the most famous songs in the <Jeokbyeokga>. This scene describes how Zhao guards the strategist Zhuge Liang who prays for a southeast wind before returning home, and defeats the two Wu generals, Seo Seong and Jeong Bong, who were chasing after them. This is the scene where Zhao’s loyalty to his master and his bravery stand out.
This scene is considered one of the most challenging for singers with its long recitatives and the use of complex rhythmic patterns usually adopted for describing urgent scenes, requiring a significant level of skill from the singers.
In the 19th century, <Jeokbyeokga> was very popular especially for the upper class and the topic of “heros” was very well received. While watching this concert, we encourage you to remember the spirits of the patriots and veterans of the past who devoted themselves to defend the country.
On this coming June 6th, we invite you to close your eyes and take a moment of silence to remember the sacrifices and devotions of the patriots and veterans of our world.
Buk (Barrel drum)
Buk is a shallow double-headed barrel drum with a wooden body. Its actual shape and size varies according to use. On the pungmul-buk, the skins of the two drum heads are sewn together with a thick rope zigzagging over the round body. The sori-buk resembles the dragon-painted yonggo in its shape and size but is covered with leather secured by brass tacks. The drummer uses a stick of birch to strike the drum head.
Pansori (Folk tradition of story singing)
Pansori is a folk tradition of a genre of narrative singing. It is the representative Korean vocal genre. Usually it is performed by a single singer who delivers an epic story accompanied by one drummer (gosu).
The songs are an amalgam of poetic, dramatic, narrative, vocal, and musical elements. The gosu gives chuimsae (‘calls of encouragement”) to spur on the singer throughout the work. Unlike other performance forms, it is particularly exciting as the singer, drummer, and the audience all participate to make the pansori work come together as a unique piece.
Pansori was designated as one of Korea’s National Intangible Cultural Property in 1964, and in 2003, UNESCO recognized pansori as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. There are five surviving epic songs in the current pansori repertoire including <Simcheongga>, <Chunhyangga>, <Heungboga>, <Sugungga>, and <Jeokbyeokga>.
*This content was produced based on the original performance video of the National Gugak Center and a description of the work.
Pansori sung by Jeong Hoe-seok
Buk (Barrel drum) performed by Yun Jae-yeong
Venue: Pungnyusarangbang Theater, National Gugak Center, Seoul, Korea
Source: National Gugak Center