Saturday, November 9, 2019

KOREA (SOUTH) National Classical Music Institute conducted by Kim Ki Soo – Jigu Records (Seoul)

National Classical Music Institute conducted by Kim Ki Soo – Jigu Records (Seoul),
 (3 LPs)
#Korean# Korea #traditional music #Gugak #world music #Kim Ki Soo #shamanic #poetry #National Classical Institute #Confucius #abstract

This collection of discs is an excellent introduction to Gugak (국악), the rich and fascinating traditional music of Korea, which encompasses folk and court music, poetic songs, and religious shamanistic/animist and Buddhist music.

According to Jungeun Oh, "A Korean traditional orchestra has a similar organization to that of Western orchestras. Like a Western symphony orchestra, the new type of Korean traditional orchestra requires a conductor… KiSoo Kim (1917-1986) composed the first new traditional orchestra piece, HwangHwaManNyunJiKok, in 1940... After Kim composed this piece, Korean new traditional music did not show real signs of vitalization until the 1960’s. In the 1960’s, when its composers became more active, Korean new traditional music was one of the spheres where dramatic modernizing efforts were taking place."*

The expressive and abstract music here features a variety of musical formats, from instrumental solos (C3, D1, D2) to royal court Orchestra (B1), Confucian Ceremonial Music (C1), and poetry (E1, F1):

Cette collection de trois disques est une excellente introduction au Gugak (국악), la riche et fascinante musique traditionnelle coréenne, qui englobe la musique folklorique et la musique de cour, les chansons poétiques ainsi que les musiques religieuses chamaniques/animistes et bouddhistes.

Selon Jungeun Oh, « un orchestre traditionnel coréen a une organisation similaire à celle des orchestres occidentaux. À l'instar des orchestres symphoniques occidentaux, les nouveaux orchestres traditionnels coréens sont dirigés par un chef d'orchestre… KiSoo Kim (1917-1986) fut le premier à composer un morceau néo-traditionnel orchestral HwangHwaManNyunJiKok, en 1940.... Mais la nouvelle musique traditionnelle coréenne ne connaîtra un véritable essor qu'à partir des années 1960, lorsqu'elle entama une modernisation spectaculaire. »*

Ces musiques expressives et abstraites présentent une grande variété de formats musicaux, allant de solos instrumentaux (C3, D1, D2) à un orchestre de cour royale (B1), une cérémonie confucéenne (C1) à de la poésie (E1, F1).

A1 Woodwind Music – Gyeong Pung Nyeon
A2 Chamber Music – Cheon Nyeon Man Se
A3 Trio – Heon Cheon Soo
B1 Royal Court Orchestra – Nak Yang Choon
B2 Woodwind Music – Ham Ryeong Ji Gok
B3 Chamber Music – Yeo Min Rak
C1 Confucian Ceremonial Music – Eung An Ji Ak
C2 Royal Ancestral Shrine – Jeon Pye Hee Moon
C3 Daegeum Bamboo Transverse Flute Solo – Cheong Seong Ja Jin Han Ip
D1 Piri Double Reed Solo – San Jo
D2 Tungso Vertical Bamboo Flute Solo – San Jo
E1 Gasa (poetry) – Soo Yang San Ga
F1 Sijo (poetry) – Yeok Eum Ji Reum Si Jo
F2 Gagok (Vocal) – U Jo Sam Soo

Some 25 years ago, I met a contemporary classical music composer with a remarkable collection of LPs. He generously let me take out all the records I wanted to record them at home. In addition to precious Karlheinz Stockhausen and Minimal music LPs, etc., I found a few traditional 
East Asian records, including this 3 LP gem from Korea. I’ve been looking in vain for a copy since and have yet to even find an online trace of it. If by chance someone has this album, I would much appreciate including a scan of the front cover and more info on the music in this post.


Photographs are from L'Art Coréen au Musée Guimet by Pierre Cambon, RMN, 2001, Visages d'Asie by Bernard Dupaigne, Hazan, 2001, and Primitivism in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern by William Rubin, MoMA, 1987:

Thousand-armed bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, Chonsu Kwanum Posal (above):


#Korean# Korea #traditional music #Gugak #world music #Kim Ki Soo #shamanic #poetry #National Classical Institute #Confucius #abstract

Korean dignitary, c. 1900:

#Korean# Korea #traditional music #Gugak #world music #Kim Ki Soo #shamanic #poetry #National Classical Institute #Confucius #abstract

Roadside Divinity (291 cm/9.5 ft):

#Korean# Korea #traditional music #Gugak #world music #Kim Ki Soo #shamanic #poetry #National Classical Institute #Confucius #abstract

Please help me purchase important traditional records to pursue my global curation            project and share the best finds with you on this blog:


  1. Love it. Traditional korean music is incredibly interesting and diverse. I was pretty blown away when I heard Sanjo for the first time. Was hoping that you'd post something from Korea at some point :)

  2. This is so beautiful. It makes my heart and eyes cry and laugh at the same time. I may have a mental breakdown right now or something like that, but there are actually tears running down my face.