Seoul Experiences a la Airbnb #2: Meet Traditional Korean Musicians

EXPERIENCE #2: MUSIC - Meet a Traditional Korean Musician

   I'm a musician so of course I am interested in learning whatever I can about any kind of music. When in Korea why not learn about traditional Korean music and instruments? The description of this experience intrigued me so I signed up. 

   In this experience you will meet a variety of musicians who major in Korean music (different musicians per week). We will meet in their actual practice room. I'm going to ask various questions of a special host, who majors in Korean music. You will have the opportunity to listen to the instruments in the real practice room rather than on the stage. I'm proud of the sound that we are going to deliver to you with natural sound in the practice room rather than on the stage. You will have the opportunity to talk to a Korean musician, as well as to learn and touch the instrument.

  Our host, Jaehoon, is 27 years old. He's studying traditional Korean music and plays traditional Korean stringed instruments that include the Ajaeng and the Haegeum. He is also knowledgeable about traditional drumming. The guest musician, Yoo-Yongjae, also age 27, performed on the Daegeum, the traditional bamboo flute. Ms. Park Jihyoen helps to manage the event and take memorable photos.

   Both students accompanied each other on the Janggo, the drum that is shaped like an hourglass. Yes, it's a lot to take in for one inspirational night. I admit that I have had to double check the names of the instruments with Jaehoon to be sure I got it right!

   The evening actually began with a bit of food tasting. I expected sweets but we were actually treated to a few different types of real food and an explanation of each item. I was happy to sample the rice cake (yum) and the rolled seaweed stuffed with rice noodles (yum). There was also fried shrimp, squid and rice sushi-looking rolls (they had some pork in them) which I left for the other guests. I forgot to taste the fried sweet potato. I bet it was good too. We also were treated to a special tea called "Omija Tea".  (오미자차). It consists of five different tastes: Bitter, Salty, Sweet, Spicy, and Sour. I found it interesting that each person actually experienced a different taste when drinking it. To me it seemed sweet. Another found it bitter. I'll have to get some of that tea! 

   Back to the music. Jaehoon was well prepared for the presentation and concert. He even prepared questions to ask the guest student! Because of the nature of these intimate experiences we were invited to ask questions too. I really enjoy the intimate setting of these concerts. One can truly interact with each presenter in a very natural manner. We learn a lot more this way.

   First we learned about four different rhythms, or rhythm patterns, that the instrumentalist improvises on. Jaehoon reminded me what they were:

Sanjo usually uses four kind of rhythm pattern. The rhythm name I showed you that day, First it start 'jinyang' and then it goes 'jongmori', 'jongjongmori' and 'jajinmori'. There are also Sanjo that use other rhythm patterns than these four.

   Jaehoon gave us a demonstration of how that works with the Ajaeng, his major instrument. The Ajaeng produces a lovely sound very similar to the cello. It is also a bowed instrument; played with a bow that is made of wood and horsehair. The strings are made of twisted silk which apparently is quite available in Korea.

   You will notice additional stringed instruments in the photo above. Each one is slightly different in the size, pitch and number of strings. Each one makes a beautiful sound.

Listen to my beautiful song!!

Okay. Maybe you'll be better off visiting Jaehoon's YouTube channel?!! 

   I don't want to give away too much about the event. If you get to Seoul you should be sure to sign up for this experience. I will, however, share that Yoo-Yongjae played beautifully on the Daegeum as a solo and together with Jaehoon. 

   We all got the chance to try out a flute. We look like we're having a pretty good jam session there! 

We also got to look the part! 

Thank you Jaehoon and friends for a really fun and informative evening! 


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