Season 3: Ep. 10: Dynamic Samul Nori and Intentional Difference with Katherine In-Young Lee
Samul nori represents a modern percussion genre of four things - the changgo, buk, k’kwaenggwari , and ching. Originally known as p’ungmul and nongak this genre was transformed as dynamic as it entered concert spaces. Comprised of karak that dynamically shift weight and feel, this genre represents the balance of Yin and Yang and alignments with hohŭp, or the breath. Katherine In-Young Lee investigates the rhythmic form of Yŏngnam nongak and how a sectional rhythmic form might invite global encounters, breaking down cultural barriers, and performing a “unification of difference” that is central to peace. The episode features recordings from the Minnesota-based Shinparam.
Key words: samul nori, percussion, Korea, Nation Branding, karak, Yongnam Nongak, Yin Yang, P’ungmul, Shinparam, hohup, pinari, dynamic
Katherine In-Young Lee is intrigued by how analyses of sound and music can offer reappraisals of past events and contemporary cultural phenomena. She has explored various types of “sonic evidence”—from the politicized drumming of dissent to the audible dimensions of a nation branding campaign.
Her 2018 book Dynamic Korea and Rhythmic Form from Wesleyan University Press explores how rhythm-based percussion forms from South Korea became a global music genre. Dynamic Korea and Rhythmic Form was recently recognized with the 2019 Béla Bartók Award for Outstanding Ethnomusicology from the ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards.
Lee’s research on the role of music at scenes of protest during South Korea’s democratization movement was awarded the Charles Seeger Prize by the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Martin Hatch Award by the Society for Asian Music. She has published in Ethnomusicology, the Journal of Korean Studies, and the Journal of Korean Traditional Performing Arts.
Describe how musical forms can be a celebration and discovery of rootedness to place. What grounds music in place?
The move of samul nori to concert halls speaks to how framing changes our perceptions. What frames and contexts allow us to see the old in new ways?
Why do some forms invite global encounters when others only stimulate limited engagement?
What does it mean that musical form might be an invitation or a template for action?
Describe how Korean aesthetics or ideas of beauty are constructed within unique language of tension and release. How does the notion of um and Yang change understandings of tension and release?
How is a balance of complementary forces a metaphor for the work of peacebuilding?
How does breath realign us with our bodies and between each other in relation? How is breath cyclical rather than linear?
Pinari is an anointing and a metaphor for the practices and the things that take longer to get to know each other. How does a balance of accessible knowing with more complex knowing invite slowness and more intentional relation?
This podcast notes that “Our performances of “unifications of difference” may be rituals that enlarge belonging and are construct imaginations of peace. “ How do we choreograph “unifications of difference” in artistic peacebuilding work?
How do we embrace the dynamic, resisting a single narrative of who we are and call others to be?*
9:14 Rural Nongak
10:10 Old and New
14:09 Global Encounters
17:02 Yongnam Nongak
19:43 Yongnam Recording
31:03 Pinari Metaphor
38:56 Entrained Difference
43:14 Entrained Diff. Narr
48:57 Research Reflection
54:02 Final Reflection
Brewer, M. B. (1991). The social self: On being the same and different at the same time. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17(5), 475-482.
Hesselink, N. (2012). SamulNori: Contemporary Korean drumming and the rebirth of itinerant performance culture. University of Chicago Press.
Lee, K. I. (2018). Dynamic Korea and rhythmic form. Wesleyan University Press.
Lee, K. I. (2012). The drumming of dissent during South Korea’s democratization movement. Ethnomusicology, 56(2), 179-205.
Lee, K. I. (2015). Dynamic Korea: Amplifying sonic registers in a nation branding campaign. Journal of Korean Studies, 50(1), 113-148.
White, B. E. (2012). Music and globalization: Critical encounters. Indiana University Press.
Katherine In-Young Lee Korea Society Talk
Samul Nori Album from Nonesuch
Rural Nongak - P'ungmul
Katherine In-Young Lee 00:00
I think it's in this context that people started to pay attention to this music. And you know, it was the first time that they were listening to this percussion music from from South Korea. It was very exciting. It was energetic, I would say dynamic. And you know, for many of the people who who first listened to this, they were kind of captivated. I'm really interested in that moment when it moves from just, appreciation musical appreciation to actual musical transformation and active embodiment trying to learn how to play these rhythms.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 00:38
You are listening to season three of the music and peacebuilding podcast, a professional development network at music peacebuilding.com Exploring intersections of peacebuilding, sacredness, community, creativity and imagination. Through research and story. Katherine In-Young Lee is intrigued by how analyses of sound and music can offer reappraisals of past events and contemporary cultural phenomena. She has explored various types of sonic evidence from the politicized drumming of dissent to the audible dimensions of a nation branding campaign. Her 2018 book, Dynamic Korea and Rhythmic Form from Wesleyan University Press explores how rhythm based percussions from South Korea became a global music genre. This book was recently recognized with the 2019 Bela Bartok Award for Outstanding ethnomusicology, from the ASCAP foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thompson awards. Lee's research on the role of music at scenes of protests during South Korea's democratization movement was awarded the Charles Seeger prize by the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Martin Hatch award by the Society for Asian Music. She has published in Ethnomusicology, the Journal of Korean Studies and the Journal of Korean Traditional Performing Arts. This conversation explores samul nori, dynamism, cross-cultural curiosity, and notions of how we represent ourselves in unity and difference.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 02:19
While this podcast was in production, Joo Jay-youn passed away unexpectedly on August 27, Joo Jay-youn was the former Managing Director of SamulNori Hanullim from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s. He coordinated SamulNori’s performances, arranged tours to the United States, and was the emcee to the 2008 World Samul nori festival. Later, he served as the Artistic Director for the Seoul Arirang Festival. And most importantly, Joo Jay-youn was a mentor, and an early supporter of our guest, Katherine In-Young Lee. Katherine worked closely with Joo Jay-youn in 2003 as the Overseas Coordinator for SamulNori Hanullim. Under his guidance, she learned about artist administration and concert and festival planning. In her dissertation, Katherine writes of a two-hour drive to a festival site with Joo Jay-youn as he supported her first steps into research. We dedicate this podcast to the memory of Joo Jay-youn, and the gifts of a mentor. May we hold the memory, the gratitude, the love for those who live lives of support, those who champion and believe in the success of others.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 03:16
I Think I want to open this interview for the listeners saying kind of where I want to get to and then backing up. So I want to get to I think maybe two key topics that are really important for our listeners. One is this, this idea of dynamism and this ethical dilemma that's out there about how sometimes you want to keep the Other the same and not let them change. And yet we all have this yearning to constantly change. I think that's an interesting topic that comes out of your work. And I think this the other one that I'm really interested in is at the end of the interview, I want to get to the 2008 World Samul nori Festival. In one of your articles, you talk about entrained nationalism, and I'm also interested entrained differences. We watch these different people come together to make music together. So that's those are two places I want to get to. However, let's start with maybe a brief story for those who don't know the story of samul nori, and I'm interested in the story of p’ungmul and how this agrarian genre, you know, around 1978 moves into an indoor space and suddenly this new genre is birthed, maybe could you could introduce a little bit that story to us.
Sure. I think that in many stories of samul nori both in Korean and in English it's kind of presented as an overnight success story or an overnight origin story. And in actuality, there is a long trajectory in evolution to what we can call you know, this quote unquote birth of samul nori as a genre, but it really began in 1978, with a quartet of musicians, a quartet of male musicians who were steeped in Korean music and dance. And they really had this exploratory spirit to their first performance at the Space Theater in 1978, in February. And this is a theater in in Seoul. And what they did was they they took the kind of central rhythms from another form of Korean percussion, music and dance called p'ungmul, sometimes also called nongak. This, you know, this was something that was pretty large scale, it was performed outdoors, it was connected with village rituals, and, you know, farming, agriculture. But they took the rhythms that were central to this form of music, and dance, and they performed it on only four instruments, the core instruments of p'ungmul being hourglass drum called changgo, a barrel drum called buk, a small gong called k’kwaenggwari, and a large gong called ching. So they streamlined it, there were four musicians playing four different instruments, but taking the rhythms from this p'ungmul genre, and then playing it while seated. So this in and of itself was kind of revolutionary, because this was music that was typically played while dancing or standing. And, you know, the first performance was called with Uttari P'ungmul, and this was drawn from the, you know, region. And, you know, it was streamlined in into a form that they could perform on stage with only four musicians. And this happened to be a hit. And it was both novel and familiar at the same time. And then that kind of increased the interest in this exploration of Korean rhythm, and then there were other performances at the Space Theater by this quartet. And each time, the musicians would do research, they would have different musicians join the group. And so through this exploration, then they start to develop this repertoire that becomes known as samul nori, four things play or four objects play. You know, at the very beginning, it wasn't like they intended to create a new genre of music at the outset, I think what they were really doing at the very beginning, was experimenting, exploring, and doing a lot of musical arrangement. You know, there's an evolution of this genre over time, that is very much connected to the performance space in which they were performing and the audience reception and the patronage, you know, the support that they received from the artistic presenter Kang Joon-hyuk and Kim Swoo Geun, who was the architect of the Space Theater. All of these things kind of converged at this moment for this genre to kind of develop.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 08:25
This genre, samul nori meaning to play four things refers to a balance of two metal instruments and two drums. Drawing upon the complements of Yin and Yang or Korean um and yang. The gongs of the k’kwaenggwari and ching represent lightning and wind respectively, and the drums of the changgo hourglass drum and the buk barrel drum represent rain and clouds. The transformation of the rural outdoor genres of p'ungmul and nongak into samul nori was one driven by a spirit of discovery with the sonic identifiers of heritage and place. Listen to p'ungmul, recorded in rural place generously provided by First we dance.com [music]
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 10:09
Amidst the 1980 upheavals of Korean society and the, quote, quiet disappearance of their valuable musical heritage, Kim Duk Soo noted that the first practitioners were akin to village shamans who were adapting rhythmic forms to the needs of contemporary people. So this genre was both old and new, Kang Joon-hyuk, notes that as performers moved an outdoor rural genre of the old into indoor seated spaces. The move, quote, was a revelation to both the performers themselves and the audience alike, that our rhythms were this diverse, charming, exciting, and energetic.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 10:56
Could you introduce us to some ideas about karak and the the accessibility of a modular, somatic and rhythmic form and how you portray these four different groups around the world that take off with these, this genre as well as other groups around the world.
You know, I should mention before we get to the transnational part that, you know, the the group, the quartet, kind of became solidified in terms of its membership in 1980, with the members of Kim Duk Soo, Kim Yong-bae, Lee Kwang Soo and Choi Jong Sil. And they were able to, you know, work together to develop a kind of repertoire for samul nori. And, in this move, people were interested in the music and they also started to imitate it themselves. So this is where this interesting moment happens, where the name of the quartet then gives kind of birth to the name of the genre of music that is now understood, as, you know, a kind of representative form of Korean traditional music. But it was because the group never really copyrighted their name. And there were other groups that imitated this kind of performance style and and called themselves samul nori as well, that it kind of it led eventually to the the naming of the genre. And so, during this time, the quartet was performing overseas, and they kind of linked with the world music circuit, you know, in Europe and the United States, also, they performed extensively in Japan. And I think it's in this context, that people started to pay attention to this music. And you know, it was the first time that they were listening to this percussion music from from South Korea. It was very exciting. It was energetic, I would say dynamic. And, and, you know, for for many of the people who first listened to this, they were kind of captivated. I'm really interested in that moment, when it moves from just, appreciation, musical appreciation to actual musical transformation and like, active embodiment, trying to learn how to play these rhythms. I think that's a very distinctive and unique move in the story of samul nori. In that people are not only, you know, fans listening to the music, but they actually want to learn how to play this music. I mean, certainly, you could look at the transnational spread of this music through just the performance of the quartet, over, you know, many years in many different countries. But I'm really interested in how this music gets picked up by people who've never played musical instruments before, who have no connection to Korea, but yet are really captivated by the sounds and also want to learn how to play it.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 14:09
What fascinates Katherine In-Young Lee, is the question of why some forms invite global encounters, while others only stimulate limited engagement. What stimulates the distanced Other to move beyond consumption and toward dialogue and performance? Anthropologist Bob White's construct of global encounters speaks to engagements where an interest becomes a catalyst, a structure a template for sustained engagement. Samul nori and contemporary trends like Gangnam Style, might be exemplars where form becomes a template, an invitation for action.
Yeah, so to get back to that point of, you know, what is it about this music that made it go global? Well, I think that, you know, there's a combination of things but but one important reason is, is the form. You know, there's something about the form of this music that is accessible. And it kind of invites participation because the karak, which are the rhythmic cycles, are not incredibly hard to learn. You know, it is a cycle that is repeated over and over again. But it's in the kind of construction or the architecture of these different karak in a sequence that then becomes a form. And that's the template then that you know, many amateur music ensembles or semi-professional ensembles would would use to learn how to play this music. So I see the form as like a guide, an invitation to a deepening of awareness about how this musical structure works.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 16:04
Lee's book investigates the karaks within Yongnam Nongak, as exemplars of modular form and structure. Karak are rhythmic cycles within samul nori that construct interlocking relationships between four things played. Karak are both elegantly simple cycles, and are often endlessly complex layers of increasing density and intensity. As rural karak moves to the concert hall, Lee quotes Ku as noting quote, stereotypical myths about the triteness monotony and noisy clatter of nongak have been completely shattered. But we hear the rhythms that have long lived within our minjung or people. This elegance has entered into hearts today and awakened our own voice.
Yongnam Nongak is the piece that is most commonly played by, you know, samul nori groups around the world. And that was why I was compelled to analyze it in terms of, of its structure and its form, because it's it's something that certainly I learned when I was learning samul nori. But then I kept noticing that other groups also, were learning and playing it and adapting it as well. You know, there are a couple of distinctive karak rhythmic patterns that appear in Yongnam nongak. And the the most sort of complex one is the Kil Kunak which begins that, that composition, if you will, and it's a 36-beat cycle. And the way that it's most often taught is in like smaller increments of like, twos and threes. And, you know, if you were to learn all 36 beats at once, it would be overwhelming, but because of the ways in which it's taught in these kind of micro phrases, it is it is something that that one could learn with practice. And so then you have other karak that are then patched together to create this kind of form. And, you know, each one is distinctive, there isn't a repetition of a karak. Like you don't go back to Kil Kunak at the very end. But what I found interesting was, you know, the arrangement of these different karak to create this kind of dynamic sense of movement. So, one thing that you have in the seated form of samul nori is, you know, the elimination of dance, which was central to p'ungmul. And yet at the same time, if you listen to samul nori, if you listen to really good performers of samul nori I feel that you can have this sense of movement with what the musicians are doing with their breath, with how they're synchronizing with one another. And then also in terms of the formal structure as well, because there's movement from one cycle to the next, a groove that might be established in in Kil Kunak, that then changes slightly with the addition of a second karak that follows immediately thereafter. And so you feel this the sense of dynamism I think, within within the composition,
Katherine In-Young Lee 17:10 (Kevin Shorner-Johnson)
we turn to a performance of the Minnesota based Shinparam ensemble. Listen for the dynamism is modular structured dances between metrical weights and rhythms with gratitude to Steven Wunrow and Shinparam for generous permission to use this recording [music]
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 21:55
Notions of musical expression rely on beliefs about how we construct beauty, often through mechanisms of tension and release. Indeed, in Hesselink's text folklorist Kim Inu notes that the interplay of tension or kinjang and release iwan is the life of a sound. Korean composer Hwang Byung-ki [Hwang Pyonggi] explained that within Korean aesthetics, melodies are tightened and loosened. Rhythms also produce, stir up and unbind to enter dynamic contrasts in volume, speed and metrical organization. Like the opposing forces of four things played kinjang and iwan find life in the balance and tension of opposing and complementary forces of nature.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 22:51
So I've heard you talk about tightening and loosening as being key to this genre and this idea of stir up, fasten unbind. I'm also I'm also really interested, and I haven't heard you talk about this on The Korea Society talk about about the idea of ho-hup, if I'm pronouncing it right. But this idea of what I think I got from your book is that I was seeing people talk about the degree to which people had their breath aligned as being a quality about whether the music was good or not. So could you talk about the aesthetics of this genre?
Absolutely. So ho-hup refers to breath. And breath is a really important concept in Korean music, and Korean dance. And samul nori as well, I think that, you know, it also is connected to this idea of rhythms being more cyclical, having a cyclical feel to to a rhythmic pattern that is perhaps very different from how we might think of rhythms in western music, or kind of the linearity of music in Western classical music, for instance. So ho-hup is kind of embedded into samul nori pedagogy, even with, you know, the counting of han-ah-ah. One, you know, there's there's a whole kind of embodied set of exercises that one would learn in order to think about how to even count that and how it's divided into, like, into threes, and how the breath is aligned with that. So that's a very important pedagogical concept that you know, before you even get to rhythm or a rhythmic cycle, you're you're thinking about how your breath is connected with what your body is doing, and how that is also kind of connected to timing. And in the early, samul nori workbooks that is explained the concept of Ho-hup is explained by Kim Duk Soo Kim Dong-won, Im Dong-chang and Susanna Samstag, who translated it into English. So there is this important kind of philosophical and aesthetic element that perhaps you know is not always conveyed to samul nori practitioners when when they are learning a piece, but it's it's definitely part of the the pedagogical materials that the SamulNori group prepared in like the 1990s. And it was also connected to the workshops that the SamulNori group led when they were going on tour, so not only would they perform in concert halls and theaters, they would often also book a workshop with, you know, schools, high schools, or people who are interested in learning how to play this music. And so oftentimes, the ho-hup was was a whole series of exercises that involve the body involved breathing, and, and thinking about how that aligned with with the rhythm and time.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 26:12
Katherine In-Young Lee notes that four players become one through hohup, or the breath. Breath breaks the notion of time as linear, and draws circles of temporal respiration. When linked across a group of four things played, hohup becomes connector entraining performers to each cycle and simultaneously making holistic connections of breath to body.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 26:42
I feel like the next question I want to go out on a limb just a little bit and see if I'm right or not. We've talked a lot about the accessibility of this genre. And your book also talks about pinari is if I'm saying that correct? Pinari, yes, pinari. And what I what I think I take from that is that there, in every culture, there's a balance of insider or outsider or in the things that are very accessible and the things that take more time to learn to become an insider. And what I what I'm curious about is, is this true for samul nori is that there's an accessibility element to samul nori. But then there's also this associated piece of Pinari, which takes much more time to invest, to fully embrace. And I think that that really comes out later on in the 2008 Samul nori Festival about this difference between the accessible part and the part that takes more time.
Katherine In-Young Lee 27:38
Yeah, thanks for, for picking up on that. That pinari is a wonderfully complex piece that has always been a part of the SamulNori program since the 1980s. It often is the very beginning part of a program. And it's very unusual in that it is very text-based, which is contrary to the rest of the program, which is really instrumental and doesn't doesn't have text aligned with it. But I I've always thought that the pinari deserves a book and a dissertation unto itself, because it is such a complex literary text that involves Korean history, Korean culture, Korean religious practice, you know, from Buddhism, and shamanism to also Confucianist ideologies. And, and yeah, there's also this performative element to it as well. But I think that, you know, I write about pinari in my book, in relation to the limits of samul nori's globalization, because it is one of those pieces in the samul nori repertory that has not gone global. And I think it's because of its extreme difficulty, you know, one would have to really know the Korean language in order to perform it and one would also have to be a wonderful performer to deliver that text, compellingly. And it's not a piece that has been featured in any of the samul nori workbooks. So it kind of stands unto itself, but yet it's always been an integral part of the samul nori repertory. There are I should say, you know, one or two groups that I know of that have tried it, but you know, it's mainly Korean students or Korean American students that have facility in Korean language, who have attempted it, but in general, it's not something that that has gone global in the same way. And, you know, I think that that's fine. You know, it in some ways, I think that learning the instrumental works, say Yongnam Nongak, or Uttari P'ungmul, that can lead to an interest in something like Pinari. And then invite further investigation or research into what that piece even signifies. Because it's a narrative prayer for like, it's a blessing for all of the kind of people who are gathered together at that space. So there's a very ritualistic element to it. But I think that probably a lot of that is missed on the first encounter. But it doesn't mean that you know, people can't dive deeper later on. But it's it is something that has not gone global in the same way, I mean, I would say it's gone global in the sense that it has been performed on stages, but it's not something that has been picked up by you know, amateur samul nori ensembles just you know, for its sheer difficulty.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 31:03
As we craft identities, there are parts of ourselves that are performed, accessible and known upon early encounters, then there are the parts of ourselves that take more time, more intimacy to know, demonstrating care and attention to the deepest parts of our being. As I read Lee's book, I imagined pinari as the intimate depth that contrasts with a more easily known karak. Pinari is a text-based song that anoints performance, opens gates, and grounds what is to come with understandings of place, spirituality, history and culture. Lee notes that as pinari begins, place is given central importance as it names the history of the Choson Dynasty, local sights, and describes the harmonious alignment of Seoul and quote, The Rising Phoenix of the Grand Palace, moving to placate spirits and deities, and then continuing to a third section of blessings and good fortune. Lee notes that pinari resembles a Buddhist chant known as yŏmbul, as translated by Lee, the text closes with a blessing for sincerity, quote, all the misfortunes, all the disease, all the worries gather them up. And we will have a sincere ritual with great care today. If a good wind blows, throw misfortunes, diseases worries in the river. This meaning takes time, linguistic skill, and is an intimacy of performed place. That is known only as we move deeper to explore pinari texts that anoint ritual and performance.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 32:52
So if we move to dynamism, and this concept is really important, because this, this genre is talked about as being exciting or dynamic. So one of your articles, you open up this idea of Korea as the land of the morning calm and how the how dynamic Korea is a counterweight to this, and how it's expressed musically. And I really wanted to to open up for the listeners to read this quote from Lowell that comes from your article. So writing in the late 1800s, he says, and so it came to pass that we have here and most remarkable phenomenon a living fossilization, the preservation intact in this world, the law of whose very existence is change of the life the thought the manners the dress of centuries ago. In the Koreans of today, we are not only looking upon what is strange, we're looking upon what has once been and has elsewhere passed away. So we can see this quote as incredibly troubling, because it seems to turn Korea and all of Koreans into this exotic object that needs to be displayed. And so I'm really interested in this this narrative that samul nori is, is in some ways pushing back against this. This this colonized idea of land of the morning calm and how it embraces the dynamics. So can you introduce us as to how samul nori has an important role to play in introducing the dynamic?
Katherine In-Young Lee 34:16
Absolutely. Thanks for reading that and reading the article as well. I was really interested in those early monikers of Korea and Korea as a unified nation back then, being you know, the Hermit Kingdom or the land of the morning calm and how those nicknames were so persistent and still exists to this day. I think that Korean airlines still has you know, as the name of their monthly magazine, Morning Calm. So it's still in the media circulating today. But the way that I introduce it in the book and how I connect it to samul nori is in relation to a nation branding campaign that began really in in, you know, the early 2000s. And it was in conjunction with the FIFA 2002 World Cup, which was co-hosted by Korea and Japan. And I think Korea, South Korea at that time was very cognizant about cultivating a strong and powerful image, especially, you can imagine, you know, in relation to its former colonizer of Japan, Japan colonized Korea from 1910 to 1945. And, and so, you know, I was interested in how samul nori was utilized in this nation branding campaign. So it was not just, you know, visual images, but I think that there was a sonic element to it as well. You know, if you were to listen to samul nori, you would have to, I think, agree that this is not music that induces sleep, you know, it's very loud. The small gong in particular has a very brash tone that cuts through, and itt’s music that forces you to wake up in a in a, in a sense, and, and I think that was the appeal of, of the music and how it kind of connected to this idea of dynamism, which then gets invoked in the discourse surrounding this nation branding campaign. And so it seemed to be like good timing for samul nori because, you know, samul nori had already been around for, you know, several years by then. But I think 2001 you have, you know, you have a different kind of South Korean economy, and, and also samul nori was created in South Korea. So there is that element to that it's made in South Korea, and that this is kind of a sonic representation of the dynamism of the South Korean economy, that has made it onto the world stage that's able to co-host the FIFA World Cup with Japan. And, and so in that sense, I was really interested in the association of dynamism with with progress. And, you know, not just you know, that the sort of opposite of silence but, but thinking about dynamism in terms of like a dynamic economy, something that's constantly evolving and changing and growing.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 37:38
Do you sense that today, is that language changing now with the with a recognition of maybe the limits of progress as we enter 2022? I'm just really curious about where that language is moving today?
Katherine In-Young Lee 37:53
Yeah, that's a really good question. I think that, you know, you don't have that nation branding campaign, in that same form, utilizing the same dynamic Korea words. But I think that something that I've noticed in, in the kind of tourists, tourism campaigns and other other governmental promotions is that there's an emphasis on Korean rhythm, like feel the rhythm. That's, that's something that I've seen on on YouTube, they have these short clips, featuring Leenalchi band, and also these dancers that that are clearly grooving to some kind of Korean rhythm. Not it's not samul nori rhythms, but but still, there's an emphasis on rhythm, which I find interesting. Yeah, so there is a branding going on. But it has changed, you know, since 2001.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 38:56
I'd like to move to this idea of maybe entrained difference and this is a term that I'm coming up with, but in light of what you're writing about. So in one article, you talk about the entrained nationalism, that comes about as part of this branding campaign. But as I read about what you wrote about the 2008
World Samul nori Festival, and I was really interested about Canto del Cielo, and how they were encouraged to wear Aztec attire. So this this identification that this group needs to wear the markers of difference, and yet they're coming into the space to play the same music together. So that's where my entrained difference is coming from. So and I think it has a lot of, a lot to speak of about peacemaking because I hear the rhetoric in that 2008 Samul nori Festival, that this is a moment of peacebuilding as these different cultures being brought together to make music together. So my question is, can you speak to this moment of entrained difference and what this looked like and and how entrained difference maybe is ritualized through this particular music.
Katherine In-Young Lee 40:06
Hmm. Yeah, that's a really interesting observation and like, I like how you spin it from the entrained nationalism, which I think I was referring to the samul nori cheers of the World Cup. Yeah. And the article that I wrote for Journal of Korean Studies, I definitely see this element of entrained difference in the World Samul nori Festival of 2008. I mean, I think that you have to contextualize it a bit, because Kim Duk Soo, the drumming maestro, he was really the primary architect of this performance that had never been done before, on this scale with all of these different countries playing, or these teams from different countries playing samul nori at the same time. So there was a show element to it. And I think on a visual level, they wanted to show all of the different countries that were being represented, right, so you had the Mexican team, you had the American team, you had the team from, from France, and so on, and so forth. And so on a visual level, you know, these kinds of costumes or national markers then are meant to display to the audience, like, the difference, like the differences between all of these performers. But you know, there was a contrived element to it, of course, because as I learned from my interviews with members of Canto del Cielo, that it was something that they learned, you know, on the fly, in the Zocalo in Mexico City, and they brought the costumes with them, but it wasn't something that they had learned as young children, it was something that they learned for the specific purposes of this event. And, and so I think that that was that entrained difference was, you know, it was cultivated by Kim Duk Soo, in a way to, to show unity, but to also show difference. But, you know, I think it was perhaps overdone. Like, you know, they could have all performed in the same samul nori outfits. And, you know, even with their different hairstyles, or the way that they look, they would have been clear that it was an international group of performers. But there was this, there was this other level of performing difference that appeared in that particular performance that I think was, you know, designed to show both the spread of samul nori, like look how many countries samul nori went to, and also to show that all of these different people could come together and play this music at the same time, and it would be coherent, and it made sense.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 43:13
Lee uses ethnomusicologist Joshua Pilzer’s language of quote, entrained nationalism, to name moments when, quote, The rhythmic chanting in unison enabled the performance of collective identity. As Korean World Cup soccer fans moved and chanted together, they embraced samul nori rhythms, Thunderstix, and mantras like “O p’ilsung K’oria”, and built spaces of unity, belonging and social identity. I layer this side by side with Lee's frequent mentions of intentional difference, particularly in a gathering of diverse international performers at the 2008 World Samul nori Festival. Participants in this festival spoke, prayed, and costumed in their native tongues and cultures, demonstrating the richness of diversity. Lee writes, quote, Where the first and second segments of the International pinari celebrated difference and the diverse backgrounds of the international performers, The final segment with the Yongnam nongak was designed to amplify a unification of difference. As I sat with this notion of a unification of difference, I reflected upon Brewer's social psychology construct of "optimal distinctiveness." Brewer notes that we might find a sense of belonging when we are able to balance the need for affirmed similarity with individuation and uniqueness, performances of unifications of difference, may be rituals that enlarge belonging and construct imaginations of peace.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 45:02
Could you introduce this group and what and what samul nori means to this group, this diverse group of people with very different interests?
Katherine In-Young Lee 45:10
Sure. Shinparam is a group that was really founded by Martha Vickery and Stephen Wunrow. And they are the adoptive American parents to Korean children. And they are also the producers of the Korean quarterly. It's a newspaper that is really like a labor of love for them. That is so informative gives a lot of information on Korean events, Korean politics and book reviews, so on and so forth. So they became interested in samul nori, you know, first through the music, but then Martha had the idea of trying to form a group. And, and so the group then consisted in the early years of Korean adoptees, some American adoptive parents, some Korean students who were studying abroad at the University of Minnesota, and also people who are just interested in the drumming. So it was a really diverse group of participants. And it's still going on today. It has lasted. Although I think the membership has changed drastically over the years. I was actually working as the Overseas Coordinator for Samul Nori Hanullim in 2003. And then in 2004, I was asked to name certain groups that might be interested in participating in the SamulNori Kyorugi competition in in Korea actually was kind of the predecessor predecessor of what became the World Samul nori Festival in 2008. And, and so I named samul norii or Shinparam as the group from the United States, although they were very kind of fledgling at that time, they did end up traveling to Korea to participate in the Kyorugi and I think that experience really gave them a lot of momentum to continue on to learn further. And and so they do both samul nori and p'ungmul in that they do you know, a lot of the repertoire from the samul nori books, but then also they they can perform while standing and dancing as well. So I think that's a group that, you know, really became interested in Korean music through samul nori but then deepen their awareness of other Korean music genres, through through that experience, and they've gone to Korea, you know, a couple of times I think Martha and Stephen have gone to Korea several times. [music]
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 48:58
Yeah, so I think my last question is just asking you about where this has taken you as a researcher and where you seem to be going in the future and what, what are the resonances about how, how learning and representing samul nori has changed you as a researcher and what new questions are opening up for you?
Katherine In-Young Lee 49:18
Right. I think that my connection to samul nori is unique in the sense that I first connected with the group as a staff member, and I was their Overseas Coordinator in 2003, helped to plan a lot of their events overseas, their 2004 US tour, I went on tour with the group in 2003 to Denmark a three week tour. I helped to organize events where there were international musicians who came to Korea. I mean, basically anything that required English speaking, I was I was connected to at that point. And because of that, I've been able to become a part of the samul nori community, if you will, and that has lasted throughout many, many years. And in some ways, it's, you know, that's really the basis of my connection to samul nori, you know, I know that I did research on them, and I have a book on samul nori, but I'm still very much connected to the group and that I invited Kim Duk Soo, and Samul Nori Hanullim, and Red Sun to perform at UCLA in May of 2019. So Red Sun is a, it's the jazz group that has collaborated with SamulNori for over 25, 30 years, Wolfgang Puschnig, who's an Austrian saxophonist. And then also, Jamalaadeen Tacuma, who's a bassist. They they have performed with Kim Duk Soo for a very long time, but they had only performed in Asia or in Europe. So I was able to invite them to kind of give the SamulNori/ Red Sun premiere in the United States. And I'm also participating on a panel that is me pan ISME panel in the summer with Kim Duk Soo, and Patricia Campbell, Namhee Lim, Keith Howard and Donna Kwon. So so we're preparing that as well for, for the, for the conference. So I think that regardless of you know, where my research takes me, I do have this kind of human connection to the group that that surpasses any, you know, scholarly articles that I will produce. But I think that, you know, perhaps the next phase of this will be to talk more to music educators, and to people who are interested in, you know, teaching this kind of music and to connect them with with resources that to connect them with people, because I do think it's something that could be very exciting for students to learn, they could learn it relatively quickly. There's a lot of online materials now that one could consult. And now there are musicians who are, you know, in New York or in Chicago, that that could actually lead workshops, you wouldn't have to, like, bring Samul Nori Hanullim, you know, over from Korea, but there are people who are living in the United States who, who could teach this kind of music. When I was at UC Davis from 2012 to 2017, I, I taught a Korean percussion ensemble, and, you know, I had to learn how to do it actually, because I, I had been a staff member previously, so I didn't focus on on the performance of it, but I too, had to learn how to lead a music ensemble, and to learn how to teach this to non-music majors, which was pretty much the student body of this, you know, ensemble. And and I learned a great deal from that experience, you know, just how how do you teach something effectively, you know, how do you teach a rhythm effectively? How do you integrate that with movement? How do you integrate that with the knowledge of the culture so it's not just, you know, this autonomous experience of learning the sounds but you're actually learning about Korean culture as well. So I think that my my shifts in the future will be more about about actual learning of it, you know, kind of, I think that that's the next phase of, of my research with samul nori.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 54:03
The ongoing story of samul nori invites a story of how we might continuously change, embrace heritage, and drum our curiosity of each other. May we build modular forms that invite performance and curiosity and yet, hold pieces like the pinari that ask us to know each other yet deeper, embracing samul nori may we reflect upon colonized language and rewrite stories of morning calm, with a cacophony of dynamic energy, and a samul nori form that resists the constraint of a single narrative. Samul nori is a unification of the sonic difference of four elements. When difference is enlarged and performed across cultural groups. The artistic medium opens windows to the imagination that we might align our breath, our being, our belonging, and our care into new communities of practice. Special thanks to Katherine In-Young Lee for her time and expertise and exploring her book, Dynamic Korea and Rhythmic Form, published by Wesleyan Press. Links to her Korea Society talk and relevant references and recordings are found at music peacebuilding.com Thanks as well to Stephen Wunrow, Martha Vickery, and Shinparam for permissions to use the recordings in this podcast. I highly recommend their writing and reporting of Korean Quarterly.org and following the many performances of their YouTube channel and Facebook group, and thanks to Diane from Fiverr for her time and patience and improving the accuracy of my Korean pronunciations, knowing that I still have much more to learn. And finally, thanks to First we dance.com for permission to use the recording of P'ungmul at the beginning of this podcast. This is the music and peacebuilding podcast hosted by Kevin Shorner-Johnson, At Elizabethtown college we host a Master of Music Education with an emphasis in peacebuilding. thinking deeply we reclaim space for connection and care. Join us at music peacebuilding.com