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Yu Kyung-Hwa

This is a full CD with music by the chulhyungeum. This instrument is an iron-stringed zither designed by Kim Yeong-cheol in the 40s. That master made the instrument after having played a guitar like the Korean zither, geomungo developing it to an expressive instrument which could express itself with a range of various Korean instruments like the geomungo, gayageum, ajaeng etc. It is played by a plectrum and a pick on the left hand with possible techniques like vibration, gliding tone and pushing tone. It became one of the new instruments for the Korean traditional style of sanjo (solo traditional music accompanied by an hourglass shaped drum). For the people interested in expanding the possibilities of the guitar this instrument might give an answer.

Yu Kyunh-hwa is one of the only performers of this still somewhat forgotten instrument. She had developed herself at young age as a traditional dance performer, then became a geomungo player and after that a percussionist, before dedicating herself fully to this instrument for 10 years before this album was recorded. She currently is a master and teacher at the university. She also is a member of Sangsang, a soloist ensemble.

We hear two shamanistic songs, the first and last track, a 15 minute version in 3 parts from a piece from the Kim Yeong-ceol school. The there are also three 'conversation' tracks as dialogues between the silk-stringed geomungo with the chulhyungeumand or duets, where you can hear a few siming spontaneous voice enthusiasms. Another piece is dedicated yo the Yeongsanhoesang traditional folk style, where the instrument plays tgether with saenghwang (mouth organ) harmonies and some danso (bamboo flute) solos on top. The first minute of the last track has something of a sitar raga improvisation with comparable resonating strings accents to the sitar. This shamanistic song includes singing. Shamanistic songs had filled the player with fear and fascination in her childhood when she saw these performances. She dedicated a lot to this genre to capture its musical strength. At a certain point the singing here has something of the blues, but happier in energy, or more in harmony.

Yu Kyung-hwa is a virtuosi and master of the instrument. I recommend guitar lovers who like the playing of people like Paul Metzger to start with, guitarists who show there are more sounds possible on the guitar, being inspired by Hindustani music, to take also a look to the possible enhancement with eastern and more specifically Korean music, specifically this highly potential instrument. Inspiring. :

"This is Yu Kyung-Hwa's first release featuring her masterful performance of Cheolhyeongeum in 2005. This album presents the unique tune of Cheolhyeongeum, a Korean 8 iron stringed zither plucked with a short horn rod which is held in the right hand, and producing various tones and vibrations. Cheolhyeongeum was created by Kim Yeong-Cheol who was a master of tightroping of Namsadang in 1940s and is now one of modernized traditional instruments for Sanjo, a genre of traditional Korean folk music, involving an instrumental solo accompanied by drumming on the Janggu, an hourglass-shaped drum."

"Yu Kyung-Hwa is a leading percussionist and performer who has opened up a new horizon in Korean traditional music exploring various genres of Korean traditional music from traditional dance to Geomungo and diverse percussion instruments. She is now composing new musical pieces for Cheolhyeongeum (iron-stringed zither). Her role of bridging the tradition and modernity breathes new life into Korean traditional music." :

"No words needed when music becomes the medium"

Ranjani Govind


"Yu Kyung-Hwa was inspired to infuse nuances of

Indian patterns into her presentations."

Yu Kyung-Hwa, percussionist from Korea, is awestruck by the expanse that is Indian music.

In her lecdem that had her demonstrate five traditional Korean percussion instruments and an iron-stringed melodic one (representing the five elements of nature) at the annual music conference of the Indiranagar Sangeetha Sabha, she dwelt upon the similarities in Korean and Indian music in the 90-minute interactive session. Inspired to infuse nuances of Indian patterns in her presentations, Ms. Kyung-Hwa came to India to learn, understand, recognise and take them forward to international audiences. In India, the 42-year-old was exposed to Indian classical facets by musicologist Subramaniam in Chennai and by Chitra Veena Ravi Kiran who guided her. Ms. Kyung-Hwa has mastered the Korean cheolhyeongeum, an eight-stringed wooden zither (a smaller version of gottuvadhya). She plucked a part of a raga, and quickly switched over to demonstrate the Korean equivalents of gamaka patterns in her own compositions, with pushing and gliding techniques for tonal variations. The instrument, designed by Kim Yeong-Cheol in the 1940s, originally had silk threads as strings.

Ms. Kyung-Hwa's demonstrated the kwengwari and jing, metal percussive instruments that resemble flattened vessels, made of gold and silver with other metals. They produce both shrill and booming sounds “representing the yin and yang — female and male-character beats with specialised strokes. Her pulsating strokes on the janggu, widely used in all Korean music, were on an hourglass-shaped drum, with the two heads covered with bovine leather." :

Sanjo (music)

Sanjo, literally meaning 'scattered melodies,' is a style of traditional Korean music, involving an instrumental solo accompanied by drumming on the janggu, an hourglass-shaped drum. The art of sanjo is a real crystalliization of traditional Korean melody and rhythm which may have been handed down by rote generation after generation. The drummer who beats the janggu also makes chuimsae(exclamations) in order to please the audience. The audience can also express their excited feeling with chuimsae while listening to sanjo. A big chuimsae indicates a good performance, so the musician can make a better performance. Like pansori, chuimsae plays an important role in sanjo. Without chuimsae, the music is meaningless. Chuimsae connects musician and audience during a sanjoperformance. Almost every Korean traditional musical instrument is used in sanjo:

gayageum, geomungo, daegeum, haegeum, piri, taepyeongso, ajaeng, danso.

Sanjo was said to be developed around 1890 by Kim Chang-jo (1865–1920) for the gayageum. Thereafter, it was expanded to other traditional Korean instruments, including the geomungo and Korean flutes. Its early development was informed by other genres of traditional music, including pansori, sinawi, and the performances of Korean shamanism.

Daegeum sanjo, played on the daegeum (a traditional Korean transverse flute) was developed in the 1920s. It has since become one of the most popular forms of sanjo. Its leading practitioner today is Yi Saenggang. Sanjo is traditionally identified as a form of minsogak, or folk music.

The composition of sanjo varies depending on the people, instruments and time. However, usually sanjo starts with a slow jinyangjo rhythm (hangul: 진양조장단; very slow rhythm used in pansori or sanjo) and becomes faster, ending with a very fast rhythm like a danmori rhythm and creating enthusiasm in the audience. Starting from a slow rhythm, the audience can gradually sink into the melody of the song. Sanjo expresses various aspects of the player. Sanjos are not fixed music. The musician can make new music with original variations. Sanjo has endless melodies in which musicians make new compositions that change with the times. Plus, in some cases the drummer will start drumming on his belly for good effect

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