Korean court music

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Ancestral rites at Jongmyo Shrine, Seoul with the musician striking the banghyang

Korean court music refers to the music developed in the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). Very little is known about the court music of earlier Korean kingdoms and dynasties. It was partly modeled on the court music of China, known as yayue. Korean court music also has similarities with the court music of Japan, known as gagaku and Vietnam known as nhã nhạc.

Korean court music comprises three main musical genres: aak, an imported form of Chinese ritual music; a pure Korean form called hyangak; and a combination of Chinese and Korean styles called dangak.[1] Its historical origins have been traced as early as 668–935, but more commonly began to spread across Korea during 918–1392. There is also a genre of aristocratic chamber music called jeongak.

Performances in the form of banquet dances typically accompany the court music, in which musical institutions taught and trained musicians and performers on the forms of traditional Korean dance. Instruments used in Korean court music vary depending on the specific genre, but also overlap between the three types. Traditional court music also continues to show significant cultural influence on contemporary society in South Korea, through government, national music associations, and forms of popular culture such as Korean pop musicians and television dramas.

History[edit]

Korean court music and its origins have been traced as early as 668–935, however the three categories commonly began their spread across Korea during the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392) due to Chinese influence.[2]

Aak[edit]

The genre of aak refers to Korean court ritual music originating from China.[3] Aak initially described all types of court music which had come from China. These types of Chinese court music within the aak genre included Korean royal processional music; referred to as ‘daechwita’, ‘munmyoak’; Confucian shrine music, ‘chongmyoak’; also known as royal ancestral shrine music, ‘hyungak’ and ‘kagok’; translated to the ‘classical song cycle’, and ‘dangak’. As these forms of court music eventually began to fade away, aak was decidedly later used only for Confucian shrine music. As time went on, it eventually also included forms of music played for aristocrats, nobility and court officials.

The first historical noting of aak was during the Unified Silla period of 668–935, however this is only due to the existence of aak instruments, and no music or performance coexisted at this time.[4] Aak music and performance to begin to spread across Korea for the first time during the Koryo Dynasty of 918–1392. This was when the Chinese emperor of the Sung Dynasty first presented the Korean court with aak instruments and court dance instructions. The Yi Dynasty during 1392-1910 then allowed for a completely finalised version of the aak system to rise across Korea.

Hyungak[edit]

The genre of hyangak refers to court banquet music originating from Korea.[5] It widely includes native Korean court music, along with music imported from China prior to the years of the T’ang Dynasty.

Hyungak is commonly acknowledged as the most prominent genre of court music as the genre includes original Korean music, and also due to its wider musical range leading to the preference of Koreans to perform it more frequently than other genres.[6]

The earliest recordings of hyungak were during the 14th century, which was seen through the very first few creations of instrumental hyungak compositions.[7] The 15th century started to see the creation of 24 hyungak compositions in total, and by 1434, there were around 80 compositions of hyungak music.

Dangak[edit]

The genre of dangak refers to Chinese court banquet music in Korea.[8] It was initially used for Chinese court music which originated during the T’ang Dynasty. However, during the Kroyo Dynasty, dangak was then used to refer to music imported from China both during and after the T’ang Dynasty. The genre was split into ‘ubangak’; music of the right, and ‘hyungak’; music of the left.

Dangak originated within the Koryo Dynasty of 918–1392, in which dangak music and performances first began to spread across Korea.[9] During the Yi Dynasty of 1392–1910, the genre further developed through an increase in the creation of compositions for instrumental dangak music.

Myths and Legends[edit]

There are a wide range of historical myths and legends which detail the birth of the origins of various Korean court performances.

Performance[edit]

Korean court performances included banquet dances, which were referred to as hyungak chonjae and tangak chongjae, distinctly named after two different genres of Korean court music.[10] Female court entertainers were called kinyo and kisaeng. Male musicians were separated into 4 different classes: aksaeng, aggong, kwanhyon maengin, and royal processional musicians.

Hyungak chongjae[edit]

Hyungak chongjae described banquet dances which were performed alongside hyungak instrumental music.[11] The dance required musicians and entertainers to enter the stage alongside the beat of hyangak music. The entertainers would then pause their dancing, in order to sing Korean poems. Finally, performers would exit the stage after bowing, which concluded the performance.

Dangak chongjae[edit]

Dangak chongjae described banquet dances which were performed alongside dangak instrumental music.[12] The dance required musicians and entertainers to enter the stage behind pole bearers. The dancers would then read Chinese poems. Finally, performers would exit the stage, concluding the performance.

Court music institutions[edit]

Court music institutions also play a heavy role in assisting musicians with their learning processes of Korean court performances. Currently, these include institutions such as the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts and the Chongdong Theater, which foster the preservation and appreciation of traditional court music within contemporary society.[13]

Instruments used[edit]

The instruments used in Korean court music vary depending on the specific genre, however also show various overlaps between the three categories of aak, hyungak and tangak.

Aak[edit]

Instruments used for aak include the tungga, honga, p’yonjong, p’yon’gyong, kum, sul, saenghwang, pak, and the 8 necessary types of materials (metal, stone, silk, wood, bamboo, leather, clay and gourd).[14]

Hyungak[edit]

Instruments used for hyungak include the komun’go, konghu, kayagum, koto, kayagum, komun’go, pip’a, taegum chunggum, sogum, pak, taego, p’iri, changgo, haegum, chunggum, taegum, tang-p’iri, tang-jok, tang-pip’a.[15]

Dangak[edit]

Instruments used for dangak include the tango, yogo, changgo, pak, so, hwengjok, t’ongso, p’iri, saeng, tang-pip’a, chaeng, konghu, panghyang, taego, tang-p’iri, ajaeng, kyobanggo, wolgum, haegum, t’aep’yongso, p’yonjong, p’yon’yong, taegum, tang-p’iri, cholgo.[16]

Cultural influence on contemporary society[edit]

The word for music in the Korean language is ‘umak’, which very closely resembles the word for the traditional Korean court music form ‘aak’.[17] In North Korea, traditional court music and performances have mostly died out as a result of the nation's strong political ideologies. However, traces of its legacy have continued to live on within South Korean culture and as a result, continues to cultivate cultural influence on contemporary South Korean society.

The South Korean government advocates for the preservation of traditional court music within contemporary society. National music institutions such as the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts and the Chongdong Theater, along with associations such as the Korean Music Association and the Korean Vocal Music Association, have contributed to fostering the sustained appreciation of Korean court music within current and future generations.[18]

Popular Korean musicians have also drawn upon Korean court music as sources of inspiration for their songs, such as Agust D and BTS.

‘Daechwita’ was produced and created by Agust D, also known as Suga of BTS, for his mixtape D-2. It is heavily inspired by and directly named after the Korean royal processional music genre, and the rapper samples and includes actual daechwita music within the song.

‘Idol’ was created by BTS for their Love Yourself: Answer album. The song includes traditional court music instruments and sounds. The group's stage performances also show each member of the band adorning traditional Korean clothing commonly known as ‘hanbok’, while displaying a variety of traditional banquet dance moves within their choreography.

Court music has also inspired a variety of scenes and settings for a wide range of Korean dramas, including Scarlet Heart: Ryeo, Hwarang, and Queen for Seven Days.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  2. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  3. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  4. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  5. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  6. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  7. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  8. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  9. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  10. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  11. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  12. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  13. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  14. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  15. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  16. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  17. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.
  18. ^ Lee, Byong Won (1981). "Korean Court Music and Dance". The World of Music. 23 (1): 35–51. ISSN 0043-8774.

External links[edit]