Sound of the Regional Idiosyncrasies
Gathering small sounds to produce big music
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Pansori is a genre of Korean musical storytelling performed in a duet by a vocalist and a drummer. The vocalist or the singer is called the sorikkun, and the drummer is called the gosu. The term pansori is a derivation of two words pan and sori, meaning a place where many people gather and sound, respectively. Kim Ji-hee (Department of Traditional Korean Music, ‘96) is a sorikkun who never hesitates to go to a pan where she can hear new sori. Having moved to the countryside to explore the undisclosed sori of the elderly, Kim has been accumulating unrecognized sori of the people from the Gangwon-do Province and has performed on a stage on the first day of November.
New place, new sound
The title of the concert was “Walking on a Path”, which connotes multiple aspects of Kim’s life and the paths that she has been walking on. The concert, consisting of 10 songs Kim composed from the sori she gathered while staying close to the people of Gangwon-do Province, speaks for Kim’s life as a sorikkun. After graduating from Hanyang, Kim spent busy days engaging herself in various musical dramas, traditional Korean outdoor performances (madangnori), and musicals. A pivotal point in her busy life that diverted her path was at the age of 30 when Kim moved down to Gangwon-do Province and married her farmer husband, after which she experienced and discovered the true charm of rural sounds carried by the elderly.
As she spent her life in this new place, Kim had plenty of opportunity to approach rural area sounds, from the elderly Kim worked side by side with on the farm. Picking up the lines of work songs that the locals sang and collecting the idiosyncratic facets of the music, Kim acquainted herself with the true sori of the rural area and decided that she would dedicate her life as a sorikkun to preserve and propagate the endangered, beautiful sound of the people. “It’s truly pitiful how this unique style of sound is disappearing, as more and more elderly pass away without leaving a record of them. As a sorrikun, I believe my role is to get myself familiar with their sori and produce music so that people can recognize them,” remarked Kim.
The path of one’s life
The title of the concert, “Walking on a Path” has a special meaning to it, which is associated with Kim’s life. The path refers to her life path, which has been varying in its direction. “I sometimes look back and wonder if I’m walking on the right path. But I think believing that you are on the right road and continue moving forward is the goal of life. On this path of my life so far, I’ve met many different people and their sori, all of which I have wanted to compile in my songs.” Everyone has their own path in life, and Kim wanted to convey the message that pursuing a dream from one's heart is the essence of life.
Kim felt a different kind of happiness when she saw the smiles on the faces of the elderly after performing in front of them, which was different from the round of applause she had received after performing in a big theater. The candy that an old lady gave and a can of Sprite the other offered meant a lot to her. “I’ve felt the uniqueness of this happiness through my life in Gangwon-do Province. There are too many sorikkun who can flawlessly perform Chunhyangga and Shimchungga, the representative pansori songs. I believe doing the sori is the best path for my life.”
Jeon Chae-yun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Kim Youn-soo
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