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Guide music for transitions

#Sounds of Korea l 2023-02-09

Sounds of Korea

Guide music for transitions

Foreigners are said to be amazed by the Korean public transportation system when they first come to Korea. They are surprised by the announcement system that tells accurate arrival times of subway trains or buses, the cleanliness of the trains and stations, and affordable fares. They also find it unusual that riders can transfer for free between the same transportation means, but also between different ones, like between bus and subway lines. Even Koreans appreciate the exceptional convenience of the local mass transportation system. In Korea, subway riders are notified of a transfer station by the music played over the onboard announcement system. In the past each subway line played different classical music pieces to announce a transfer station, but in 2010, the transfer station music for all subway lines was changed to a Korean traditional piece called “Eolssiguya얼씨구야.” People, who thought traditional music was boring and slow, were satisfied with the new cheerful music piece. Thirteen years have passed since the change and now the subway system has a new transfer song, “Pungnyeon풍년” or “a bountiful year.” Both songs were written by the National Gugak Center to incorporate traditional melodies in our everyday lives. In fact, “Pungnyeon” was voted as people’s favorite subway transfer music in a nationwide online poll carried out in October. Let’s listen to “Pungnyeon” written by Park Gyeong-hoon.

Pungnyeon/ Written by Park Gyeong-hoon

Coming up next is a piece titled “A New of New Song” performed by ReMidas, a musical artist duo comprised of gayageum player Park Ji-hyeon박지현 and geomungo player Kim Min-young김민영. This piece is a reinterpretation of the gayageum piece “New Song” written by gayageum virtuoso Seong Geum-yeon성금연 in the 1960s. Seong Geum-yeon was inspired by the tale of Baridegi바리데기, a Korean mythical being that guides the dead to the netherworld. It was written when there was no such discipline as creative music within the gaguk genre, so Seong was considered a novelty at the time. It will help us understand this music piece better if we learn more about the tale of Baridegi. She was born the seventh princess in an ancient kingdom but was abandoned soon after birth for being a girl. When she grew up, she was asked to find medicine for her ailing parents who had given her up as a baby. She braved all sorts of dangers to get the medicine and save her royal parents’ lives. For that noble and selfless deed, she became the god who helps the dead cross over safely to the other side. Just like the indomitable princess, “A New of New Song” sounds resolute and energetic. 

A New of New Song/ Performed by ReMidas

The last song for this episode is “Corridor” performed by Misocompany 미소컴퍼니. This fusion gugak band was formed in 2009 with an aim to make the world smile with its philosophical music. The band creates unique music by combining traditional elements and medium tempo music. The following is the band’s description of the piece “Corridor.”

We must pass through a corridor in order to move from one part of a building to another. We must go through such a place when we undertake a big change at one point in our lives. It could be before, during or after the change. We wrote this piece hoping that we can all safely pass through the life’s corridor during the change. 

Perhaps, Misocompany plays the role of corridor that links the past and the future. Let’s conclude this week’s Sounds of Korea with Misocompany playing “Corridor.”

Corridor/ Performed by Misocompany

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