Samul nori is a genre of percussion music originating in Korea. The
word samul means "four objects" and nori means "play";
Samul nori is
performed with four traditional Korean musical instruments:
Kkwaenggwari (a small gong)
Jing (a larger gong)
Janggu (an hourglass-shaped drum)
Buk (drum) (a barrel drum similar to the bass drum)
The traditional Korean instruments are called pungmul.
Samul nori has its roots in
Pungmul nori (literally "Korean
traditional percussion instruments playing"), a Korean folk genre
comprising music, acrobatics, folk dance, and rituals, which was
traditionally performed in rice farming villages in order to ensure
and to celebrate good harvests. Since Korea's people until the modern
times were 90% plus in farm related work this music defined Korean
folk music or popular music and rhyme of Korea.
Pungmul nori is also
called Nong-ak nori. Nong meaning farm and ak meaning music. But this
name did not come from farmers or Koreans for that matter. This name
Nong-ak nori was introduced by Japanese imperial government's cultural
colonization policies. relating everything "Koreaness" and what ever
else they wanted to discourage to farm and making farming look
uneducated and non-modern.
Samul nori is the formalized, more
modernized version of
Samul nori was the name of a group
that found this genera. But because their music got so much attention
and became a pronoun and verb describing this genera that the group
had to change their name.
Samul nori started by adapting music from
utdari pungmul (the gut, or shaman ceremony rhythm of the Gyeonggi-do
Chungcheong provinces of South Korea), as well as the genres of
Yeongnam folk music and
Honam udo gut, combined with more contemporary
improvisations, elaborations, and compositions. Original musics of
these local rhymes steeped in traditional animism and shamanism, but
also shows influences from Korean military music and Korean Buddhism.
Pungmul nori often features the use of wind instruments,
samul nori only features the aforementioned four percussion
A poet once described each of the four instruments of Samul nori,
after seeing their performance, represents a different weather
condition: the janggu represents rain, the kkwaenggwari thunder, the
jing the sounds of the wind, and the buk clouds. The idea or
philosophy of what
Korea was founded on Chun-Ji-In (Chun heaven, Ji
Earth, and In meaning people) philosophy is also reflected in these
instruments: the buk and janggu (leather) represent the sounds of the
earth, while the jing and kkwaenggwari (metal) represent sounds of the
heavens and the people playing and enjoying represent people. So
Samul nori without people sound in is considered incomplete.
Although generally performed indoors, as a staged genre, Samul nori
depicts the traditional Korean culture, an agricultural society rooted
in the natural environment.
Samul nori is
characterized by strong, accented rhythms, vibrant body movements, and
an energetic spirit.
Samul nori has gained international popularity, with many Samul nori
bands and camps worldwide. Since the 1980s in South Korea, there has
been a marked increase in the amount of fusion music, combining Samul
nori and Western instruments.
Samul nori is also
extensively used in the Korean musical Nanta.
The most famous
Samul nori ensemble is the internationally famous
South Korean ensemble called Samul Nori, which is credited for
bringing the music from a rural folk genre to the contemporary
stage. The group was established in February 1978 by janggu player
Namsadang star performer Kim Duk Soo (김덕수),
with the remaining original performers being Kim Young Bae
(kkwaenggwari), Choi Tae Hyun (jing), and Lee Jong Dae (buk).
Following Kim Young Bae's death in 1985, he was replaced by Choi Jong
Sil, and Lee Kwang Soo replaced Lee Jong Dae on the buk. The group
has collaborated and recorded with a number of non-Korean ensembles,
most notably in 1987 with the Red Sun jazz band, with one
SamulNori/Red Sun CD selling 70,000 copies. They have also
performed (in August 2000 at the Earth Celebration International Arts
Festival on Sado Island in Japan) with the Japanese taiko group
About his choice to move from the more traditional outdoor
performances to indoor venues, Kim Duk Soo states that at the time he
established SamulNori, during the last years of the administration of
former South Korean president Park Chung Hee, Korean traditional music
was associated with the student movement, and anyone playing such
instruments outdoors could be arrested. Thus, he developed the current
version of the genre, which is generally presented indoors, on concert
In 1993, SamulNori expanded to include twenty performers, and changed
its name to SamulNori Hanullim, Inc. ("Hanullim" meaning "big
Pangut(판굿),Gilgunakchilchea(길군악칠채)and so on.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Samul nori.
Samullori - Official Seoul City Tourism
Article about the history of samul nori
Poongmul in the U.S.
Pungmul in the U.S.
European samul nori website
German samul nori website
French samul nori website
SamulNori artist page from Alliance Artist Management
Interview with Kim Duk S