There are many gugak groups we can see in action these days. Although some of them make music that can hardly be called traditional other than featuring traditional instruments or melodies, it is quite encouraging to see so many young gugak musicians taking stage and making impressions on general audiences. Today we introduce three gugak teams and the first one is a group called TARL탈. As its name indicates, the creative music band distinguishes itself by performing with masks on. It released “Aekmaegi액매기,” which means to ward off evil, in 2021 in the midst of the pandemic. In the following year, TARL released “Let’s Go See Flowers” to wish for unrestricted travel. Then in this year, the group release “Mu-un무운,” inspired by Jongmyo ceremonial music. Unlike “Aekmaegi” and “Let’s Go See Flowers,” which are based on folk music, “Mu-un” plays up the majesty of court music while retaining the jovial charm of mask dance. Today we’ll listen to “Aekmaegi,” a fast-paced piece used largely in mask dance performances with the lyrics about preventing bad fortune.
Coming up next is a music piece by a trio named MuRR뮤르, an acronym for music, rest and refresh. This band was comprised of piri player Ji Hye-ri지혜리, percussionist Song Ni-eun송니은, and taepyeongso태평소 artist and vocalist Heo Sae-rom허새롬 when it was first formed in 2017. But now only Heo Sae-rom and Ji Hye-ri remain to oversee Dadaldaldal다달달달 Project, a project to release a sweet music piece every month. The duo released more than 60 pieces since their first album “Her Story” was issued in 2017. The first in that long series of fusion songs is “Garibong Blues.” Garibong-dong is a neighborhood located in Guro-gu District in Seoul, famous for the Guro industrial complex. This industrial park was where the so-called Miracle on the Han River began in earnest. Back in the 1960s and 70s, textile and sewing industries were the mainstay of the industrial complex, but it was replaced by new cutting-edge IT businesses in the new millennium and was renamed the Guro Digital Complex. These days, it is called G-Valley to illustrate the ambition to grow as the center of corporate research and development and networking technology. “Garibong Blues” is about the people who relentlessly strive toward a bright future in Garibong-dong. Listen to how the taepyeongso’s light melodies blend well with the solid sound of the oboe-like daepiri대피리. Here’s MuRR playing “Garibong Blues.”
Garibong Blues/ Performed by MuRR
Today’s last piece is a song by Sori Flower. The group professes to be a girl group in traditional music that focus on ‘visual music.’ This means that they try to put on visually stunning performances as well as sing songs that are pleasing to the ears. Having won a youth singing contest in 2021 with the group’s pansori-inspired performance and the five members’ bubbly personalities, the group also won gold prize at the 21st century Korean music project in 2022. The song we have for today’s episode is “The Saw Song” released in 2021. It’s a rearrangement of an aria from pansori “Heungboga,” where Heungbo and his wife saw a giant magical gourd in half. The couple move a long saw back and forth to open the gourd, hoping to scrape out the inside to make porridge. But once they sawed open the gourd, they found two chests, one filled with money and the other with rice. More amazingly, the chests were replenished as soon as they were emptied. Heungbo’s family was so ecstatic that they sing and dance around the treasure. While wishing for your days to be full of such joy, we’ll conclude this week’s Sounds of Korea episode with Sori Flower singing “The Saw Song.”
The Saw Song/ Sung by Sori Flower