Tag Archives: Korean music

Journey to Korean Music Celebrates 10th Year in 2017

Music Group NaMu, one of the Korean acts scheduled to showcase in 2017

“Journey to Korean Music,” a platform that presents the music and culture of Korea to world music professionals from around the globe will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017. The program provides support for traditional Korean performance organizers seeking to take their music abroad. Through Journey to Korean Music, Korean organizations can access opportunities for promotion and take steps to move forward into the international market, while overseas experts can gain an understanding of both Korean culture and music.

Over 120 international world music experts have visited Korea to take part in this program over the years.

Since 2008, approximately 67 percent have successfully entered markets in Poland, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Norway, France and Denmark.

Participation in Journey to Korean Music has also led to numerous other performance opportunities at events such as the 2010 WOMEX Opening Ceremony in Denmark, and Korean focused programs at Colours of Ostrava in the Czech Republic and the Paris Autumn Festival.

The KAMS-EFWMF Tour Grant was also created in partnership with the European Forum of Worldwide Music Festivals (EFWMF), which includes some 40 member festivals, to support Korean performance organizations seeking to conduct tours in Europe.

More at en.pams.or.kr


Artist Profiles: Noreum Machi

Noreum Machi at Rainforest World Music Festival 2009 in Sarawak – Photo © Angel Romero


Noreum Machi was founded in 1993 and is currently the most widely recognized Korean traditional music group in South Korea. Noreummachi’s performances are based on their original rhythms and sounds of Korea’s Jindo region. The musicians deliver their traditional sounds, movements and rhythms by putting them together as a harmony or by emphasizing each element apart. “Our slogan is new wave Korean music group,” says group leader Kim Juhong.

Noreum Machi performs the virtuosic percussion music known as samulnori. First introduced to the West in the late 1970s by the legendary ensemble Samul-Nori, this vibrant music had a huge effect in galvanizing the student movement in Korea and reengaging Koreans with their traditions.

Samulnori is a modernized staged adaptation of p’ungmul nori, a ritualistic celebratory event with origins in shamanism and animism performed by rice farmers and professional musicians at harvest festivals. Noreum Machi’s colorful program includes spectacular percussion dialogues, shamanic chants, and acrobatic dances.

Noreum Machi essentially continues and expands the journey that Samul Nori began. The group was founded in 1994 by Kim Juhong, a graduate of the Korean Traditional University who studied singing, shaman rhythms, and pansori (traditional storytelling/vocal music) with masters of these various genres, including Kim Duk Soo, one of the original members of Samul-Nori.


Noreum Machi at Rainforest World Music Festival 2009 in Sarawak – Photo © Angel Romero


While steeped in the tradition of p’ungmul nori and its derivative samulnori, Noreum Machi has reached out to embrace outside elements and improvisation is a key element of their performance. “The name Noreum Machi comes from the Korean minstrels,” adds Kim Juhong. “In competition among minstrels Noreum Machi referred to the minstrel so skilled that no one could match. In other words, the best.”

Noreum Machi uses the janggo drum, the buk barrel drum, the kkwaenggwari gong, and the jing gong.


Yeominrok, a Thrilling Musical Journey

E-Do – Yeominrok (Pony Canyon Korea, 2015)

Every once in a while I get the musical version of a kick in the pants and Korean musical ensemble E-Do’s Yeominrok, out on the Pony Canyon label, is that kick in the pants, smack to the kisser, punch to the gut and audible gobsmack all rolled into one. A brilliant, edgy, quirky blend of traditional Korean musical sensibilities, jazz and rock, Yeominrok is thrilling musical journey.

Fashioned out the talents of chulhyungeum (iron-stringed zither) player Kyung-hwa Ryu, drummer and percussionist Chung Lim, Korean drummer and percussionist Min-soo Cho, electronic bassist and contrabassist Jung-chul Seo, daegeum (pipe) and taepyeongso (double reed wind instrument player Young-Sup Lee, with additions of keyboardist Seung-hwan Yang, vocalist Tae-young Kim and daegeum player Young-goo Lee.

Yeominrok is both exotically surprising and fantastically expressive. Bridging the gaps of Korean traditional music, jazz and rock, as well as sliding in elements of Indian classical traditions, Yeominrok takes the musical version of a flying leap and soars far and wide into the wonders of fusion.

Starting off in a deceptive kind of quiet with “Bird of Oblivion,” it soon becomes apparent that the listener is in for a treat with the twang of metal strings, the sweet strains of flute and the occasional ting of a bell. This track builds up a sweet tension like waiting that moment in time when a bird takes flight while still trying to take in the beauty of the bird.

Yeominrok just gets better with the quick paced “Road” with its driving rhythms, sweeping flute and delicious tapping percussion. Jazzy and clever “The Brave Moonlight,” possesses a subterranean coolness, while “Kanwondo Arirang” proves edgily masterful with rock percussion and vocals.

Leaning heavily on a measured, restrained Korean traditional feel, “Bohoeja” is just as delightful. Closing “Ayrtthaya” with its percussion opening is a little deceptive as the piece flowers into a lushly dreamy track while still threading that explosive percussion through the track before the track gives way to a jazzy whirlwind complete with reedy pipe.

Yeominrok is one of those wonderful recordings where the silence between notes is just as important as the notes themselves, where delicacy brushes up against the fantastical and where the listener is led down the musical road that’s mined with rich and wonderful surprises.

Buy the digital version of Yeominrok