A samul nori performance in Bremen, Germany
|Revised Romanization||Samullori or Samul nori|
|McCune–Reischauer||Samullori or Samul nori|
Samul nori is a genre of traditional percussion music originating in Korea. The word samul means "four objects" and nori means "play"; samul nori is performed with four traditional Korean musical instruments:
- Kkwaenggwari (a small gong)
- Jing (a larger gong)
- Janggu (an hourglass-shaped drum)
- Buk (a barrel drum similar to the bass drum)
The traditional Korean instruments are called pungmul.
Samul nori has its roots in nong-ak (literally "farmers' music"), a Korean folk genre comprising music, acrobatics, folk dance, and rituals, which was traditionally performed in rice farming villages in order to ensure and to celebrate good harvests. Specifically, samul nori music derives from utdari pungmul (the gut, or shaman ceremony rhythm of the Gyeonggi-do and Chungcheong provinces of South Korea), as well as the genres of Yeongnam folk music and Honam udo gut, combined with more contemporary improvisations, elaborations, and compositions. Such nong-ak is steeped in traditional animism and shamanism, but also shows influences from Korean Buddhism. While nong-ak often features the use of wind instruments, samul nori only features the aforementioned four percussion instruments.
Each of the four instruments represents a different weather condition: the janggu represents rain, the kkwaenggwari thunder, the jing the sounds of the wind, and the buk clouds. The idea of yin and yang is also reflected in these instruments: the buk and janggu (leather) represent the sounds of the earth, while the jing and kkwaenggwari (metal) represent sounds of the heavens. Although generally performed indoors, as a staged genre, samul nori depicts the traditional Korean culture, an agricultural society rooted in the natural environment. Samul nori is characterized by strong, accented rhythms, vibrant body movements, and an energetic spirit.
Samul nori has gained international popularity, with many samul nori bands and camps worldwide. Since the 1980s in South Korea, there has been a marked increase in the amount of fusion music, combining samul nori and Western instruments. Samul nori is also extensively used in the Korean musical Nanta.
The most famous samul nori ensemble is the internationally famous South Korean ensemble called SamulNori, which is credited for bringing the music from a rural folk genre to the contemporary stage. The group was established in February 1978 by janggu player and former Namsadang star performer Kim Duk Soo (김덕수), with the remaining original performers being Kim Young Bae (kkwaenggwari), Choi Tae Hyun (jing), and Lee Jong Dae (buk). Following Kim Young Bae's death in 1985, he was replaced by Choi Jong Sil, and Lee Kwang Soo replaced Lee Jong Dae on the buk. The group has collaborated and recorded with a number of non-Korean ensembles, most notably in 1987 with the Red Sun jazz band, with one SamulNori/Red Sun CD selling 70,000 copies. They have also performed (in August 2000 at the Earth Celebration International Arts Festival on Sado Island in Japan) with the Japanese taiko group Kodo.
About his choice to move from the more traditional outdoor performances to indoor venues, Kim Duk Soo states that at the time he established SamulNori, during the last years of the administration of former South Korean president Park Chung Hee, Korean traditional music was associated with the student movement, and anyone playing such instruments outdoors could be arrested. Thus, he developed the current version of the genre, which is generally presented indoors, on concert hall stages.
In 1993, SamulNori expanded to include twenty performers, and changed its name to SamulNori Hanullim, Inc. ("Hanullim" meaning "big bang").
Honamudonongak(호남우도농악,湖南右道農樂),Binari(비나리),Seoljanggo play(설장고놀이), Pangut(판굿),Gilgunakchilchea(길군악칠채)and so on.
- Samullori - Official Seoul City Tourism
- Article about the history of samul nori
- Poongmul in the U.S.
- Information about Pungmul and Pungmul in the U.S.
- European samul nori website
- German samul nori website
- French samul nori website
- SamulNori artist page from Alliance Artist Management
- Interview with Kim Duk Soo about SamulNori