Pungmul (Hangul: 풍물; Hanja: 風物 IPA: [pʰuːŋmul] POONG-muul)
is a Korean folk music tradition that includes drumming, dancing, and
singing. Most performances are outside, with dozens of players, all in
Pungmul is rooted in the dure (collective labor)
farming culture. It was originally played as part of farm work, on
rural holidays, at other village community-building events, and to
accompany shamanistic rituals, mask dance dramas, and other types of
performance. During the late 1960s and 1970s it expanded in meaning
and was actively used in political protest during the pro-democracy
movement, although today it is most often seen as a performing art.
Older scholars often describe this tradition as nongak ([noŋak]
NONG-ahk), a term meaning "farmers' music" whose usage arose during
the colonial era (1910–45). The Cultural Heritage Administration of
South Korea uses this term in designating the folk tradition as an
Important Intangible Cultural Property. Opposition from performers and
scholars toward its usage grew in the 1980s because colonial
authorities attempted to limit the activity to farmers in order to
suppress its use and meaning among the colonized. It is also known by
many synonymous names throughout the peninsula.
Drumming is the central element of pungmul. Each group is led by a
kkwaenggwari (RR- ggwaenggwari) (small handheld gong) player, and
includes at least one person playing janggu (hourglass drum), buk
(barrel drum), and jing (gong). Wind instruments (taepyeongso, also
known as hojeok, senap, or nalari, and nabal) sometimes play along
with the drummers.
Following the drummers are dancers, who often play the sogo (a small
drum without enough resonance to contribute to the soundscape
significantly) and tend to have more elaborate—even
acrobatic—choreography, particularly if the sogo-wielding dancers
also manipulate the sangmo ribbon-hats. In some regional pungmul
types, japsaek (actors) dressed as caricatures of traditional village
roles wander around to engage spectators, blurring the boundary
between performers and audience. Minyo (folksongs) and chants are
sometimes included in pungmul, and audience members enthusiastically
sing and dance along. Most minyo are set to drum beats in one of a few
jangdan (rhythmic patterns) that are common to pungmul, sanjo,
p'ansori (RR-pansori), and other traditional Korean musical genres.
Pungmul performers wear a variety of colorful costumes. A flowery
version of the Buddhist kkokkal is the most common head-dress. In an
advanced troupe all performers may wear sangmo, which are hats with
long ribbon attached to them that players can spin and flip in
intricate patterns powered by knee bends.
2.1 Early development
2.2 Suppression and unrest
5 International exposure
6 See also
9 External links
Pungmul (Hangul: 풍물; Hanja: 風物) was first recognized
as an Important Intangible Cultural Property in 1966 under the title
nongak sipicha (농악십이차, "twelve movements of farmers'
music"). The designation was changed to simply nongak in the 1980s in
order to accommodate regional variations. The Cultural Heritage
Administration currently recognizes five regional styles of the
tradition, each named for its center of activity, under Important
Intangible Cultural Property no. 11: Jinju Samcheonpo nongak, from
South Gyeongsang province (designated in 1966); Pyeongtaek nongak,
from Gyeonggi province (1985); Iri nongak, from North Jeolla province
(1985); Gangneung nongak, from Gangwon province (1985); and Imsil
Pilbong nongak from North Jeolla province (1988). Each style is unique
in its approach toward rhythms, costuming, instrumentation, and
performance philosophy: Jinju Samcheonpo for yeongnam (영남),
Pyeongtaek for utdari (웃다리), Iri for honam udo (호남우도),
Gangneung for yeongdong (영동), and Imsil Pilbong for honam jwado
Most scholarly works on pungmul focus on the two distinct styles
present in the
Honam region encompassing the two Jeolla provinces.
In this region, the designations jwado (left) for Imsil Pilbong and
udo (right) for Iri are determined according to geomantic principles.
Looking southward from the "center" (Seoul, the capital), udo
indicates "left", and jwado indicates "right". Comparative studies
between the two styles brought about the development of stereotypes
among professional groups.
Honam jwado became known for its varying
formations and rapid rhythmic patterns, while honam udo was generally
seen as having slow but graceful rhythmic patterns.
Suppression and unrest
During the Joseon dynasty, this folk tradition was the primary mode of
musical expression for a majority of the population. Many scholars
and performers today claim that the term nongak (Hangul: 농악;
Hanja: 農樂) was introduced during the Japanese colonization
era in order to suppress its broad use and meaning among the Korean
True public support for pungmul improved little in the decade
following its recognition and financial backing from the government.
There was a lack of interest among Koreans who abandoned their
traditional customs after moving to the cities. This phenomenon was
coupled with the introduction of Western-style concert halls and the
growing popularity of Western classical and popular music.
Samul nori, unlike traditional pungmul, is performed in a seated
In 1977, prominent architect
Kim Swoo Geun
Kim Swoo Geun designed the Konggansarang
(공간사랑), a performance hall for traditional
Korean music and
dance located in the capital, and invited artists and scholars to
organize its events. During the performance center's first recital
in February 1978, a group of four men led by Kim Duk-soo and Kim
Yong-bae, both descendants of namsadang troupe members, performed an
impromptu arrangement of Pyeongtaek (utdari) pungmul with each of its
four core instruments. Unlike traditional pungmul, this performance
was conducted in a seated position facing the audience and
demonstrated a variety of rhythms with great flexibility. It was well
received by audience members, and a second performance was soon held
three months later. Folklorist Sim U-seong, who introduced both men to
the Konggansarang club, named the group SamulNori
(Hangul: 사물놀이; Hanja: 四物놀이), meaning
"playing of four objects".
Samul nori eventually came to denote an
entire genre as training institutes and ensembles were established
South Korea and Japan. Usage of the term nongak was
retained in order to distinguish traditional pungmul from this new
staged and urbanized form.
The majority of soe players today hold the instrument in the left hand
by suspending it either with the first finger or the thumb.
Brightly colored cloth sashes are often attributed to pungmul's roots
Choreography of the entire ensemble seldom receives the same attention
or scrutiny as manipulation of the hats.
Pungmul is played in several
Korean American communities in the United
States, including Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and
College-based groups also exist at the University of California
(Berkeley, Los Angeles, Davis, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Irvine),
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Stony Brook University, Columbia
University, New York University, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Harvard University, Yale University, the University of
Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University,
California Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, University of Buffalo, Binghamton University,
Syracuse University, Stanford University, The University of Toronto,
Brown University, etc.
Pungmul was added to the
UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list in
Important Intangible Cultural Properties of Korea
Music of Korea
Namsadang, itinerant performance troupe having pungmul in its
Samul nori, traditional percussion genre derived from multiple pungmul
^ Hesselink 2006, p. 10
^ a b Hesselink 2006, p. 11
^ Park 2000, p. 65
^ Park 2000, p. 66
^ Hesselink 2006, p. 2
^ Hesselink 2006, p. 15
^ Hesselink 2004, pp. 408–409
^ Park 2000, p. 177
^ Park 2000, p. 178
^ Hesselink 2004, pp. 410
^ Park 2000, p. 25
^ a b "
Pungmul in the US". US Pungmul. Retrieved 2014-11-28.
^ "'Nongak' added to
UNESCO list". Korea.net. 2014-11-28. Retrieved
Bussell, Jennifer L. (1997), A Life of Sound: Korean Farming Music and
its Journey to Modernity, Department of Anthropology, University of
Chicago, archived from the original (B.A. thesis) on 3 July 2007,
retrieved 10 June 2011.
Hesselink, Nathan (1999), "Kim Inu's 'P'ungmulgut and Communal
Spirit': Edited and Translated with an Introduction and Commentary",
Asian Music, Society for Asian Music, 31 (1): 1–34,
doi:10.2307/834278, ISSN 0044-9202.
Hesselink, Nathan (2004), "
Samul nori as Traditional: Preservation and
Innovation in a South Korean Contemporary Percussion Genre",
Ethnomusicology, Society for Ethnomusicology, 48 (3): 405–439,
Hesselink, Nathan (2006), P'ungmul: South Korean Drumming and Dance,
Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology, Chicago, I.L.: University of
Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0-226-33095-2.
Hesselink, Nathan (2007), "Taking Culture Seriously: Democratic Music
and Its Transformative Potential in South Korea", The World of Music,
University of Bamberg, 49 (3): 75–106, ISSN 0043-8774.
Hesselink, Nathan (2009), "'Yŏngdong Nongak': Mountains, Music, and
the Samulnori Canon", Acta Koreana, Keimyung University, 12 (1):
1–26, ISSN 1520-7412.
Kwon, Donna Lee (2001), "The Roots and Routes of
Pungmul in the United
States", Music and Culture, Korean Society for World Music, 5:
39–65, ISSN 1229-5930, archived from the original on 27 August
2008, retrieved 10 June 2011.
Park, Shingil (2000), Negotiating Identities in a Performance Genre:
The Case of P'ungmul and Samulnori in Contemporary
thesis)format= requires url= (help), Department of Music, University
of Pittsburgh, ISBN 978-0-599-79965-3.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pungmul.
P'ungmul nori at the Virtual Instrument Museum of Wesleyan University
Poongmul.com, a network of pungmul groups in the United States
Pungmul school in San Diego, CA, United States
Pungmul on YouTube, very well made video f