Korean Kayagum Sanjo: A Traditional Instrumental Genre  book cover
1st Edition

Korean Kayagum Sanjo: A Traditional Instrumental Genre

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ISBN 9780754663621
Published March 28, 2008 by Routledge
174 Pages

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Book Description

The Korean genre of sanjo is today one of the most popular genres of traditional music, taught in schools and universities within Korea, and a staple of national and international performance tours. Sanjo comprises a set of related pieces for solo melodic instrument and drum. A number of 'schools' (ryu) are recognized, each based on the performance style of a master musician, usually a musician from an earlier generation. Sanjo was first devised for the kayagum 12-stringed plucked long zither and is now played on all major Korean instruments. The solo melodic instrument is accompanied by a drum. The two Sino-Korean characters that comprise the term 'sanjo' can be translated as 'scattered melodies', but such a translation hardly does justice to the complexity of sanjo: each piece, played in entirety, can last for an hour, although in concerts players will often choose segments from this long piece to fit a specified time frame. Amongst contemporary performers, Chaesuk Lee has done much to develop our understanding of sanjo. In her career, she has combined scholarly research with performing. One of the first students of the Seoul National University programme in kugak, Korean traditional music, the first female professor of kugak in Korea, and today the only female music scholar in the Korean National Academy of Arts, she worked with the most senior master musicians of kayagum sanjo, chief amongst them Kim Chukp'a (1911-1989). Kim was the grandaughter of the putative founder of sanjo, Kim Ch'angjo. Kim Chukp'a had been a celebrated performer in her youth, but she retired as a professional musician in the early 1930s when she married her first husband. This volume explores, records, notates and documents the Kim Chukp'a school of kayagum sanjo. It is the result of collaboration between Chaesuk Lee, the ethnomusicologist Keith Howard and the composer and musicologist Nicholas Casswell. Two audio CDs accompany the book, one featuring Lee playing Kim's complete sanjo, and the second, a 'bonus' CD of a second sanjo for the six-stringed zither, komun'go, played by Kim Sunok.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; The genre: kayagum sanjo; The instrument: kayagum; My musical life and sanjo: Chaesuk Lee; Analysis 1: mode, rhythm and regional identity; Analysis 2: a Deleuzian approach; Kim Chukp'a's sanjo: notation; References; Discography; Index.

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Dr Keith Howard is Professor of Music at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and Director of the AHRC Research Centre for Cross-Cultural Music and Dance Performance, UK. Professor Chaesuk Lee is Professor Emeritus at Seoul National University and Distinguished Professor at Hayang University, Seoul, South Korea. Mr Nicholas Casswell is a Composer and Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, UK.


’This holistic, comprehensive study of sanjo is hard to criticize. The authors have approached the main theme from every possible angle, incorporating myriad factors, personal, religious, social and political. This volume comes highly recommended.’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies ’One of Korean Kayagum Sanjo's particular strengths results from the collaborative efforts of its three cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary scholars... As a combined work of a cultural insider and outsiders, this book demonstrates how the study of a culture-specific topic can benefit from multidisciplinary insights and can increase the understanding of Korean music.’ Korean Studies ’Korean Kayagum Sanjo is an innovative and imaginative volume. The inclusion of two compact discs and a score makes the book even more valuable. Certainly any fan of the genre will enjoy the book and learn much from it. ...there is [...] much to be gleaned from this inventive multidisciplinary, polyvocal exploration of Kayagum Sanjo.’ Acta Koreana