World percussion: Korea


Today I'm talking about the two major percussion instruments from korea - the Janggu or Janggo (hangul: 장구 or 장고; hanja: 杖鼓 or 長鼓) and the Buk (hangul: 북).

The Janggu

The Janggu
The janggu (or janggo; also spelled changgo) or sometimes called seyogo (slim waist drum) is the most widely used drum used in the traditional music of Korea. It is available in most kinds, and consists of an hourglass-shaped body with two heads made from animal skin. The two heads produce sounds of different pitch and timbre, which when played together are believed to represent the harmony of man and woman.

A performer playing janggu

Traditionally the janggu is played using yeolchae on the right hand high pitch area and uses the bare hand on the low pitch area. Such an example can be seen on pungmul players for a number of folk songs and shamanistic rituals. But today, it is common to see the use of gungchae and yeolchae together. 'Gungchae' is used to play the low pitch side. Janggu can be played on the floor such as for traditional sanjo music or carried with a strap on the shoulder. The way performers carry the Janggu differs from person to person, from region to region and varies depending on his or her taste.
The janggu is usually classified as an accompanying instrument because of its flexible nature and its agility with complex rhythms. Since the performer can use his or her hands as well as sticks, various sounds and tempi, deep and full, soft and tender, and menacing sounds, and fast and slow beats, can be created to suit the mood of the audience. Using this capability, a dextrous performer can dance along moving his or her shoulders up and down and make the audience become carried away and dance along with him or her.



The Buk


While the term buk is a native Korean word used as a generic term meaning "drum" (the Sino-Korean word being go), it is most often used to refer to a shallow barrel-shaped drum, with a round wooden body that is covered on both ends with animal skin. Buk are categorized as hyeokbu (혁부, 革部) which are instruments made with leather, and has been used for jeongak (Korean court music) and folk music.
The buk used for court music are usually fixed with nails on the rims, while ones used for folk music are usually tied up with leather straps to form the shape. Performers in the court music usually beat their buk with bukchae (북채, a drum stick) on one hand or two hands together, while drummers in the folk music commonly beat their buk with it on their right hand as hitting the other side of the buk with their bare left hand.





 
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