A Crossover of Traditional and Contemporary Music
Ha Yun-ju, a Jeongga singer who is popularizing the traditional music of Korea
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Traditional music in Korea is called gugak, which literally means “national music” in Korean. However, as the trends of Western music have been sweeping the music industry for more than half a century, most Koreans feel a sense of distance from traditional music. Ha Yun-ju (Department of Korean Traditional Music, '09) is a Jeongga (a kind of gugak which involves vocal singing) singer who is trying to popularize traditional music through a musical crossover with Western music.
Ha explained Jeongga as a genre that engrafts music and literature which used to be enjoyed by the upper-classes. “Jeongga reveals a taste for the arts as it leads to inner peace from its slow and steady melody,” said Ha. She added that Jeongga provides a mystic experience by filling in the emptiness of people with lyrical and instructive messages.
After entering Hanyang with a full scholarship, Ha started to lay the foundation for her competence as a musician. “Each lesson with the professors helped me grow to be able to meet the standards to survive in the actual field,” said Ha. With the professors’ support as well as her efforts, Ha won the Gold Prize in the 27th Onnara Gugak Competition.
However, Ha aspires to more than just mastering Jeongga. She is especially interested in familiarizing other people with this beautiful traditional music. Ha chose a crossover between traditional music and contemporary music as the medium. Upon receiving the KBS Gugak Award in 2018, Ha released her first full-length studio album, Chuseon, which means “a fan in autumn." The album featured contemporary songs sung in the style of Jeongga, expressing the loneliness of a woman saying farewell to her loved one. In addition, Ha is participating in various collaborations with contemporary pop musicians including Kim Junsu, Song So-hee, and Second Moon. Ha feels that she has been tasked with certain responsibilities as a traditional musician, and the crossover is a way of fulfilling them.
Other than the crossover, Ha has been involved in diverse projects to popularize traditional music. The Jeongga singer recently released a collection of children's songs after appearing in Who Is Good at This, a singing contest program for children. Ha is preparing to release another full-length album, The Point of Ecstasy, with the poems of Na Tae-ju. Ha also plans to participate in a singing competition program by MBN as a representative of traditional music. “With my music, I am trying to touch the emotions that all Koreans unconsciously carry in their minds,” said Ha.
Ha told the members of Hanyang to keep their passion and believe in what they are aiming for. “What you believe is what opens your way to the opportunities,” said Ha. “Even when you feel exhausted, don’t give up and do your best.”
Oh Kyu-jin firstname.lastname@example.org
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