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Song of the Four Seasons

#Sounds of Korea l 2023-11-02

Sounds of Korea

Song of the Four Seasons
One of the songs that Koreans like to listen to as the seasons change is “Sacheolga” or “Song of the Four Seasons.” The song begins with the line “Flowers bloom here and there. It must be spring.” The song compares the four seasons – spring, summer, fall and winter – to a person’s life. Youth is often equated with springtime in a person’s life and the elderly years as the snowy winter. But the song tells us not to despair in the waning days of our lives because there are still days to live, and that precious time shouldn’t be wasted. So, how should we live the remaining time of our lives? The song advises that bad people should be removed from our lives and bring good friends together and enjoy the time we have with good food and drinks. Having such a positive attitude toward life would make old age a little bit more bearable. Here’s pansori singer Jo Sang-hyun singing “Sacheolga.” 
Sacheolga/ Sung by Jo Sang-hyun

The “Sacheolga” you just heard was a danga단가, or a short song. It is known as a song sung by a pansori singer before a pansori performance begins. These days a pansori performance often lasts between ten and twenty minutes. But when an entire pansori piece is performed, it usually takes three hours minimum to as long as over eight hours. To sing such a long piece, a singer must warm up by relaxing his or her vocal cord, just like an athlete doing stretches before a race, and danga was what the singer would sing to prepare for the main performance. A danga generally lasts between four to six minutes, much shorter than a pansori piece. Danga songs include well-known passages from pansori pieces, songs about traveling away from the secular, materialistic world, and like in “Sacheolga,” enjoying life because life is fleeting. 
So how can we have more fun? The definition of having fun differs by generation. Young people sing “Sacheolga” differently and the version sung by female gugak group Sori Flower is what we are going to listen to today. 
Sacheolga/ Sung by Sori Flower

There is a “Sacheolga” among Gyeonggi-do folksongs. Danga “Sacheolga” compares life to four seasons, but Gyeonggi-do “Sacheolga” describes natural sceneries that change over four seasons and people enjoying various natural surroundings. The refrain of the spring season goes, “In this March, let’s go eat flower pancakes” and describes people dressed up and going on a picnic when pear blossoms bloom in spring. In summer, Chunhyang춘향 takes a walk in the garden of Gwanghanru gazebo amid lush green trees, while in autumn people climb up a nearby mountain to take in the colorful fall leaves. The song describes people trotting across a frozen field to escape the cold, snowy weather as quickly as possible. The song wraps up with the line that goes, “Hurray, hurray, this is good, so good. Four seasons make up 365 days of a year,” which means to say that there is not a bad day in the year. This week’s Sounds of Korea will conclude with Gyeonggi-do sori group Aengbi singing Gyeoggi-do folksong “Sacheolga.”
Sacheolga/ Sung by Gyeonggi Sori Group Aengbi 

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