Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Night of Tradition


Every time I hear the word 'tradition', it doesn't take very long before I recall our dogmatic Tevye and his ultra-orthodox village ranting about their all-important religious traditions. Well, I might not be at the faraway Russian steppes but the Koreans situated on the other side of the world feel pretty much the same.

In fact our endlessly enthusiastic host lost no time after our arrival to organize a traditional music evening strictly for our enjoyment. Something that singularly unnerved me since I can hardly bear sitting through a torturous night of clanging instruments without a single singing voice to distract me.

Really. I don't do instrumental music.

Had the prerequisite ten years of endless piano lessons - at least counted as essential for all good Asian boys - but I still can't sit through an entire recital without nodding off. Well unless there's something that stirs the blood like Tchaikovsky or Paganini!

So to my encouraging host, I did my best to stall for time by hemming and hawing, only to be beat by our Charming Calvin who found himself simply dazzled by the detailed description given of the gayageums and geomungos. Easily convinced that fellow.

Dammit I don't want to listen to traditional music!!

Which is how I ended up dressed to the nines for the evening concert. I wasn't entirely wrong about the music though.

Calvin : Enjoying the music now? 
Paul : You must be kidding. Sounds like someone chopping wood. 
Calvin : Not even a bit?
Paul : If I were king, I would have decapitated the entire lot, possibly razed the entire village down, all for hurting my ears with such horrible cacophony. 
Calvin : Aiyo!
Paul : I might save the drum fellow though. He is cute. Bed slave material. 

Sorry to say I'm still not a fan of traditional music, at least not the usual kind hauled out to bore the starched-up courtiers into a submissive stupor. Most times throughout the night I was thankful I had sufficient makgeolli - a wonderfully sweet rice wine - to bear me through the ordeal.

Perhaps if the traditional music was a lil jazzed up in a modern way perhaps. Maybe with a voice or two. Such as the new age Korean band Infinity of Sound here.

Or maybe pansori - basically storytelling through music and words - a brief segment of the evening that I enjoyed most of all. The talented storyteller sings out her tale with the help of a trusty fan and a fellow musician beating a drum.

Though I understood barely a word, even with the hastily whispered translations from the host, the plot came through quite clearly through the studied nuances in the storyteller's tone, expression and movement.


Anonymous said...

Hello from Anon :)
Seeing you have fallen for KPOP like many of us (and it's not entirely for the music alone!!), you may be aware of The Nuts and their song "Love Note". Here is a live version for a radio station.
omg omg omg..excuse me while leave the room for a moment or two..:)

savante said...

Sounds pretty good! Will have to find out more, anon!