Posted by: rbbadger | October 13, 2009

Farmers’ Dances

Recently, the National Center for the Traditional Korean Performing Arts hosted a festival of Korean folk dances, most specifically those centred on dances and music connected with farming. 

Farm Dances

Some of the most spectacular (and frequently performed) of these dances is the pangut.  The dancers wear headgear with long ribbons which they twirl as they dance and produce complicated rhythms on their drums.  Along with the drums, you are likely to hear the sound of the taepyungso, a very loud oboe-like instrument which was also used in military parades and the like.   When I first heard it, I was convinced that the Koreans had stumbled on a way of composing atonal music before Schönberg ever did.  But then, the music it plays is hardly atonal.  It just sounds atonal to western ears at first.   


The loudness and shrillness of the taepyungso is such that it can be heard over just about everything.  I once heard a concerto for traditional orchestra and taepyungso.  It seems that there is just about no way to play it quietly.  It could be heard over full orchestral tuttis without any problems.


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