What is Pungmul?‎ > ‎

2 Terms and Meaning

  1. Meanings

    Pungmul is a communal form of musical culture. In it, five instruments (kkweanggari, jing, janggo, buk, sogo (Small drum with handle.)) are played in conjunction with various forms of performances, such as sogo dance and mask dance theatre. Pungmul is a form of culture that has its roots in the oldest religious rituals, which themselves sprouted from the communal consciousness that was present in the beginning of agricultural society. Pungmul instruments were thought to have the power to summon good spirits and drive the bad ones away. They also have the mystical power to restore a person's energy.Shinmyung (2-1) fills the participants as loneliness and sorrow fade and are transformed into joy through dance and play. Farmers seek shinmyung through Pungmul in order to find energy for their demanding work. Taking all things considered, Pungmul is fundamentally a bold cultural act of gathering together a whole community's hope and wishes, of overcoming sorrow by creating shinmyung, and of nurturing a culture of survival and regeneration.

  2. Terms
    1. Samulnori (Play of four objects/instruments)

      The four objects in Pungmul refer to Kkwaenggari, Jing, Janggoo, and Puk. According to one view, these instruments derived from the four objects of Buddhism (Beomjong: Bell, UnpanBeopgo: Barrel drum, Mokeo: wooded block), and this is because the Pungmul required the simplest composition among the repertoire of the Namsadangpae (2-2). Today we use Samulnori as a general reference to a genre of traditional artistic acts performed with Kkwaenggari, Jing, Janggoo, and Puk. However, Samulnori originally referred to Kim Duk-Soo Samulnori, a Korean traditional percussion performance group that was formed in 1978. Samulnori should be considered a form of a highly stage-oriented performance of percussion instruments that traces its musical developments from the rhythms of Pungmul rather than Pungmul itself. The following points can be made when Pungmulgut and Samulnori are compared.

       PungmulgutSamulnori
      Performance SiteOpen field or empty lotSmall space or even stage
      Performance DurationAlmost no limitApproximately 10-15 minutes per piece
      Number of PerformersGut will be lively when there are more people.Generally 4-6 performers
      Purpose of PerformanceCommunal play or game (Daedonggut)Exhibit highly skilled performance in short time
      Rhythm FeatureOftentimes, the same rhythms are repeated.Composed by combination of representative rhythm
      Audience ReactionEasy to step inDifficult to step in
      Role of JapsaekBridge between performers and audienceLack of Japsake can be a barrier to audience
      Formation PerformanceCan be improvised according to atmospheres.The frame of the performance is set before the show.

      Samulnori, which had creatively adopted Pungmul, provided opportunities for the general crowd to come easily into contact with Pungmul rhythm. Furthermore, Samulnori contributed to developing the remarkable skills of Pungmul players scattered around all the regions in Korea. Despite these positive influences, Samulnori has problems that need to be solved in the future. In particular, Samulnori should revive the people and play-oriented aspect and reconstruct the performance site in order to minimize the distance between the performers and the audience.

    2. Pungjang

      Pungjang is a word used commonly in farming and refers to a Pungmul that is played while picking weeds. Nongjangwon or Jilkkonaegi is a play in which the servant from the house with the largest harvest in the village was honored by riding on a cow on the last day of Mandure. (In general, weeds are picked three times a year in rice farming, and Mandure refers to the last one of the three.)

    3. Dure

      Originally, Dure referred to a traditional work union at the village level, and it was formed especially for picking weeds. Pungmul was also called Duresince Pungmul involved group performance and was related closely to the work of Dure.

    4. Gut

      The expression, "Gut Chida (Hitting/Performing Gut)," is used commonly throughout all regions. The meaning of a Gut is to gather, which encompassed a process in which people come together to discuss and solve all the issues in the community, make collective plans, and rally each other's spirits to stir renewal in their lives (Shinmyung). However, now there is a tendency to regard Gut only as a shamanistic tradition.

    5. Maegu, Maegut, Maegui

      Any of these terms mean to step on evil spirits to the ground, and Maegut refers to a Pungmul that is played on New Year's Eve. In the Kyungsang region, these terms usually refer to Pungmul or Kwaenggari.

    6. Pungmul, Pungmulgut

      These terms are used mainly in the Kyunggi and Choongchung regions and refer to a simple composition that is played while planting rice. This ritual serves to beseech the gods for answers to their wishes, which include a good harvest. Since the 1980s, the words Pungmul and Pungmulgut have been used commonly instead of Nongak in universities and cultural organizations.

    * Different words are used in different regions to describe the material in this book, i.e. Pungmul, Pungmulgut, Pungmulnori (Anseong), Jingut (Bitnae), Maegugut (Jinju Samchunpo), etc. However, we decided to use the word Pungmulgut as much as possible to promote the communal characteristic of Pungmul that people share with each other.

2-1: The sensation of communal joy

2-2: the troupe of players

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