Bountiful harvest is possible only when a farmer works the field with diligence and attention. So, when rice paddies stand neglected by a lazy farmer, we Koreans call it cricket pungryu풍류. Here the term pungryu refers to the cricket’s chirping sound or enjoyment of music. A weedy field suggests that the farmer must have indulged in entertainment and neglected his work. For yangban or noblemen who are well-off and enjoy high social standing, enjoying pungryu means that he is culturally refined, but for farmers, it is considered a shortcut to poor harvest.
Among the Korean musical terms are ‘julpungryu줄풍류’ and ‘daepungryu대풍류.’ Julpungryu refers to the music played with stringed instruments, while daepungryu with wood instruments, specifically those made with bamboo. The first piece for today’s episode of Sounds of Korea is a julpungryu piece titled “Forever and Ever” by Heo Ik-su, Kim Sang-yeon and Hong Seok-bok.
Forever and Ever/ Performed by Heo Ik-su, Kim Sang-yeon and Hong Seok-bok
In the old days, there used to be an area called pungryubang풍류방, literally translated to a music room. It was where music lovers gathered to perform and listen to music. It was much like a drawing room in western culture or Korea’s sarangbang사랑방, a reception room for male guests. Since the pungryubang was confined in space, the number of instruments was kept to a minimum. Even the piri피리, the Korean pipe, was kept to the smallest one, sepiri세피리, instead of the larger hyangpiri향피리. The music piece played most often in pungryubang was Yeongsanhoisang영산회상, a collection of nine music pieces, which took nearly an hour to play from beginning to end. But it would be boring to play the same piece every time, so some pieces were taken out from Yeongsanhoisang or Dodeuri도드리 and other pieces were added to vary the repertoire. It was up to the geomungo거문고 player to decide which pieces to play, which was why such music belonged to the julpungryu category.
To play a daepungryu piece, six musicians – two piri players, one each of daegeum, haegeum, drum, and janggu – usually formed an ensemble called “samhyeonyukgak삼현육각.” Earlier, it was said that “Yeongsanhoisang” was performed as a julpungryu piece, but there was a samhyeonyukgak adaptation of “Yeongsanhoisang,” which was also called “Gwanak Yeongsanhoisang관악영산회상.” Let’s listen to “Yeombul Dodeuri,” one of the pieces from “Yeongsanhoisang,” performed by Jeong Nok Ak Hoe.
Yeombul Dodeuri/ Performed by Jeong Nok Ak Hoe
Daepungryu pieces performed in the royal court were different from the ones played among ordinary folks. They were often performed to accompany dances at a party hosted by a king or a crown prince, whereas ordinary people enjoyed them as music for mask dance or folk dance. Today’s last piece is “Hanyang한양Samhyeonyukgak” which was often featured in sixtieth birthday parties, government officials’ outings, archery events, or traditional dances. It was quite a versatile piece suitable for many different occasions. Until recently, it was played for the Dodanggut도당굿 shaman ritual of the Gyeonggi region or the Saenamgut새남굿 ceremony of the Seoul region which guides the dead to the other side. Shamanistic memorial ceremonies are not performed that often these days, so it’s difficult to preserve gut굿 music. So, let’s be thankful that such distinguished musicians as Kim Jeom-seok김점석, the practitioner of Korea’s intangible cultural asset Seoul Saenamgut, are working hard to conserve shamanistic music. Here is Kim Jeom-seok performing the samhyeonyukgak renditions of “Neujeun Heoteuntaryeong늦은 허튼타령” and “Jajin Heoteuntaryeong자진 허튼타령.”
Neujeun Heoteuntaryeong &Jajin Heoteuntaryeong/ Performed by Kim Jeom-seok