The nature of culture is to flow, and we cannot know the direction of the flow. In other words, I think we should be a sort of a flow. Of course, we do not know where and how the flow will lead, but at least we can do it by fiercely embracing today and making question marks.
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The nature of culture is to flow
I know today’s theme is “Innovation, Globalization of Tradition, Changes and Challenges.”
The first word that came to my mind after hearing the subject was “flow.” As it is this word, I wonder if there are other words that best reveal the properties of culture and music. In that sense, we know from experience that today’s music is different from yesterday, and it is easy to expect that tomorrow’s music will be different from today.
Of course, even in the process of ceaseless creation and extinction, there are certain things that remain unchanged. So you can see the trace of the flow (and some will call it identity), but you will not be able to know the direction of tomorrow’s flow just by following its trail.
This is the point. It is the point (mu work) expect, the point where I am interested in, the point that interests me, and the point that makes me move. There is actually nothing we can tell. How to innovate, where to share with more people, and what challenges and changes we must go beyond… No one knows. And this huge question mark may not be just given to us today. In that sense, I am going to ask a stupid question: Did the countless “currents” that lived hard in the “present” of that day, also think of innovation, sharing, changes and challenges as their objectives in front of the huge question mark? I wouldn’t know. Again, I repeat, there is actually nothing we can tell but that does not mean there is nothing we can do.
I cannot be generalized, but in my case, it has been a continuous “reaction” for me. I responded to the people I worked with, responded to a given environment, responded to demands, and responded to desires. Although it is not possible to clearly separate the reactions that appear while working, for the convenience of discussion, I will divide the three works into different types.
I might add that I am a Pansori reciter. Pansori is to convey the narrative story of a feature piece in songs and words along with the Pansori epic chant and beats of a drum, accompanied by gestures (similar to acting). It can be said to be a representative genre of Korean traditional culture. Although the field of division is ambiguous, it is a unique genre of music, act, and literature.
First of all, I will continue the conversation with a reaction to the person. I work with or a response to the demands of a certain genre ‘Osie Osige’ (we call it a Sori or sound play), that I recently worked on is can be classified as a musical. If the musical grammar already constructed in this way belongs to a clear genre, a heterogeneity from the genre on which I am based appears, and when the heterogeneity blurred, very different effects can be obtained.
Of course, when making a choice or deciding the level, the work will depend on the point you want to talk about, but in the end, it will not overcome the limitations of the genre.
In this regard, the result, of this mark may be similar to a tightrope between the uncomfortable feeling of difference and the freshness of the new.
First, the person I was acting was supposed to communicate with audiences and actors while traversing the original story. Therefore, I made own songs and I had to be able to swipe across boundaries and intervene gently at any given moment.
Of course, for the same reason, it was an option to highlight boundaries to reveal a sense of presence, but our originators did not choose the option. Therefore, Jangdan was minimized (‘Jangdan’ is a very important rhythmic element of Pansori), and in the overall structure created by the composer, all the expressions of the characters involved were expressed as ‘lumps of sound’.
In Pansori, Sigimsae is a highly advanced technique of musical expression. Words and melody were combined in a way that fits together with the ‘lumps of sound’. I attempted to express the feeling of passing between characters, stories, audiences, and the stage so as to resemble the teetering sway of the tightrope. Fortuitously, the audience found the tightrope to be quite interesting.
As a result of the reaction to the desire, I want to talk about the work called “The Yard”.
“The Yard” has an original work (granted Yeongnam Daily Literary Award 2018).
My work is an adaption of the original novel “The Yard” by Chae-muk Im, which concerns the daily lives of workers in a shipyard with a calm gaze. A very detailed description appears based on the original author’s experience working in a shipyard. And despite the unusual situation, the incident is expressed in a very dry manner, and the gap makes the story more vivid.
And the meaning that the vividness is trying to deliver is very clear: instrumental human existence of an organization running blindly and a field that demands existence as a tool.
The tension and numbness of that place are combined with the heartlessness of realizing that one is alive through the death of another person, which brings about uncomfortable sympathy.
Tension and numbers, heartlessness and empathy, vividness and dryness, and unusual calmness.
It makes no sense, like a modern classic…But there was vividness in the gap. In order to express the gap as much as possible, I tried to reverse the beginning and the end at each stage of the work process. Of course, it refers to when I used the methods I always had.
First of all, I reversed the structure of “Text First, Music Later.” First, musical fragments that seem suitable for expressing the situation and atmosphere of the scene were selected. Next, I formed a melody by arranging and joining the fragments and applied lyrics to them. This is a segmental melody obtained through unexpected connections. In fact, the melody should be a little smooth and linked. But I wanted to actively take the unfamiliarity arising from such fragmented melodies. In order to highlight the unfamiliarity created in this way.
The use of Jangdan was completely excluded and tried to focus on the acoustic changes according to the emotions of characters. The adaptation is an editorial, which mixes a poetical style and prose style and a fantasy that mixes sentiment and facts is embodied in the script.
A human being instrumented as an accessory in a structure through movement similar.
To the musical experiment presented earlier, and such fragmented images of humans were visually implemented. The choice was clear and accurate because the point where my desire and the work fit into this work was relatively certain. However, since the official performance has not yet been performed, I have not been able to confirm the reaction of the audience.
Only through the showcase performance, I could confirm the experimental reaction.
Taking this opportunity, I want to show you a video made with this work. It is a short video.
Since “The Yard” was nominated as the first work among the PAN-Drama series of K-Music Makers, an in-school start-up of Seoul National University’s Traditional Korean Music Department. It was filmed with a 10-minute video under the direction of Sang-man Kim.
I would appreciate it if you take the time to see it.
And moving on to the third topic, it is also the point where I am currently working hardest as a result of the reaction to a given environment. Let me tell you about the works of band Lee Nalchi. Lee Nalchi is a band composed of 4 vocals, 2 basses, and 1 drummer, who studied Pansori like me.
It didn’t start out as a band. At the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju, which is right here, we first gathered for the production of the animated music drama “The Dragon King.”
We did a tryout in 2018; at the time, we practiced together and talked about how good the music came out. So, an opinion came out to show only the music on the stage with a very simple structure of Changja and Gosu, probably expected a format similar to a concert.
It seemed to be a good practice for the next year’s performance, and the teamwork of Sori performers was good, so everyone agreed.
In the process of doing so, something we overlooked was revealed: the electronic sound created for accompaniment in the play was insufficient to create a musical space for vocals in a club performance environment. So that is when I thought about forming a band. However, due to the nature of Pansori music, there were already enough melodies with 5 singers.
So we decided to reinforce the rhythm part excluding the guitar. Pansori is a genre in which expression is maximized. That is, singer and drum accompaniment, song and percussion, melody and rhythm. Therefore, there are currently 2 basses, 1 drummer, and 4 vocals.
Bass is also an instrument that can be largely divided into rhythm parts. It may be a little puzzling, because after this time if you search the internet for us, there is one more vocal, but last May, he left the band for solo activities.
In any case, as the band was organized in this way, this time there was friction with the musical characteristics of the explanatory song formation in the play. So, we made repetitive phrases, sang them together, sang them alternately, shared acoustics with each other (not about harmony).
Making them more diversified in musical changes and structures and actively made them as “songs.”
By the time we started our activities (Before the band was ready enough), we were invited to the outdoor stage performance at the National Museum of Korea and NAVER’s Onstage shooting. The problem was that our structure was not enough to fill the stage and screen in abundance. So, we got to perform with the Ambiguous Dance Company.
I am not sure, but some coincidence, shortcomings that I occasionally felt. It is still too early to say, but I thought that the surprising reaction made it possible to make the present Lee Nalchi.
To summarize the first three notes, many people, including me, simply think that when you do a specific genre labeled as ‘tradition,’ the ‘tradition’ we love has been passed down to us naturally. However, these days, I often think that this perception is a bit dangerous.
Is the tradition passed down to us good enough for the future? If it were so limited, wouldn’t anyone at any moment has done nothing and could not have done anything? So, is it possible to be transmitted? If so, would “tradition” be passed down in the today’s form?
In the end, it seems more appropriate to see tradition in this way. It is not what we receive, it is what we must convey. If we were to say yes, we have to do something and we had to do something. It may sound a bit weird, but we do not know what we need to do… I do not know well about what, when, and how we do it.
As mentioned earlier, the nature of culture is to flow, and we cannot know the direction of the flow. In other words, I think we should be a sort of a flow.
Of course, we do not know where and how the flow will lead, but at least we can do it by fiercely embracing today and making question marks.
Of course, methods and outcomes will vary, but I think that is the only thing we can do to inherit our tradition. Returning to this topic and summarizing, I know nothing about “Innovation, Globalization of Tradition, Changes and Challenges.” I just have been constantly “reacting’ as a person who performs Pansori.
As a result, I still ear a traditional robe, a hat called Gat, and play Pansori. I do Pansori on the musical stage, tell the story of a shipyard in Pansori and do the Pansori in the club with the vocals of the band Lee Nalchi.
Everyone plays Pansori, exists in their individual space, but at the same time does something other than Pansori. No one knows where this flow will go, or it may not flow; and simply disappear, but whether it is passed down, or is remembered as being extinguished, I hope that it would somehow exist as “flow.”
Thank you for listening.