Korean Music Characteristics

Need information on Korean Music Characteristics? Discover the bright rhythm and melodies, which are characteristic of Korean Music...

Korean music can be categorized into two different genres: the energetic folk music and the soothing melodies of classical music. The folk music is filled with lively rhythms and is created through the use of a combination of musical instruments, different folk songs, the Pansori and utilized for shaman rituals. The well-known Korean music pieces include the Sinwai, Pansori, and Shaman rites music, Chapga as well as Sanjo, Pungmulnori and Samullori.

Musical Instruments in Korea

With an impressive collection of musical instruments, Korean music is characterized by different sounds emanating from each of the instruments, which express the soul of this country’s creative side. While the majority of the instruments are native to Korea many of them can be traced back to other parts of Asia. The three main categories for instruments include percussion instruments, stringed instruments and plucking instruments that create the unique Korean musical rhythm.

Korean Classical Music Characteristics

When analyzing Korean classical music it can simply be divided into different styles of music, these are detailed and recorded. The basic classifications include Tangak, which defines Chinese classical music, Hyangak the native court music and Aak, which was a term used by Confucius to define refined music and finally Chongak, which is considered a form of music enjoyed by the elite class for entertainment.

Well-known classical musical pieces, which form an integral part of Korean music are listed in volumes of collections. These include forms, that are well known like the Confucian Shrine Music, Yongsan – Hoisang, the Royal Ancestral Shrine Music, Chuita, Nakyangchun, Kagok Lyrical Songs, Boheoja, the Sijo Lyrical Songs, Sujechon, Kasa and Yomillak.

Description of Some Korean Music Pieces

The Yongsan-Hoisang was originally created using a Buddhist chant. However, the lyrics have been completely removed and only the nine movements of the musical composition remain in this musical piece. Similar to other court music, this piece also has two separate versions for stringed instruments and for wind instruments. This piece starts off with a slow-moving tempo and increases its momentum as it goes through the nine movements, with the musical composition reaching a heightened crescendo at the end.

Yomillak was prepared during the rule of King Sejong and after many years of work the piece it was finally completed in 1447. Originally it had elements of both Korean and Chinese music but evolved into a more native version composed of only Korean music characteristics. Throughout its existence this musical piece has gone through many transformations and is now available in at least four recognized versions.

Boheoja is an adaptation of a Chinese traditional song and became popular during the Korya Dynasty, which is when it was introduced into Korea. From then onwards the original text was lost and it was localized to incorporate more Korean music characteristics. There are different versions, which can be performed by wind instruments and stringed instruments, with various other types of versions available as well.