P’ansori is the quintessential traditional Korean musical drama, in which epic tales are sung and narrated by a solo singer accompanied by a drummer. Drawing on her extensive research in Korea and its diasporas, Haekyung Um describes and analyses the creative processes of p’ansori, weaving into her discussion musical, social and cultural aspects that include the evolution of p’ansori performance, origins and historical development, textual and musical materials, stylistic features of different p’ansori schools, transmission of knowledge, aesthetics, and changing interpretations of tradition. Also explored is the complexity of historical and contemporary influences that give shape to p’ansori as a ’living tradition’ across the ages and into the present, and as a cultural icon with an enduring narrative and emotional impact. Social, economic and political dynamics are created in the nexus of traditional feudal values, colonial modernity and nationalism. The impact of aspects of late modernity such as technology, mass media, migration and globalization, has transported p’ansori into digital and transnational domains. By bringing all these creative and contextual processes together, Haekyung Um explains how a tradition is created, maintained and redefined by the dynamic interactions of agents, values, meanings, strategies, identities and artistic hybridity.
Haekyung Um is Lecturer in Music and a member of the Institute of Popular Music at the University of Liverpool. She specialises in the Asian performing arts, focusing on Korea and its diasporas. Her current research includes the global reception of Asian popular culture and Indian classical music in Britain.
’This book goes further than any previous publication in elucidating the literary and musical complexity of p’ansori for the English speaking reader. ... the most comprehensive English language study of p’ansori to date, and Um can justly state that ’all the major musical, social and cultural aspects of p’ansori are brought together in this book’. ... It is, in fact, the first ethnomusicological book on p’ansori, and presents a searching analysis of communicative codes and contexts in a musico-literary genre that is ’arguably the most studied single genre in the field of Korean studies’.’ Music and Letters ’...this is a thoughtful and carefully crafted monograph that will be viewed as the essential English-language reference work on p’ansori for many years to come.’ Ethnomusicology Ireland