Traditional Korean Instruments

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our traditional music class
Traditional Korean music involves a lot more than banging on a drum. The breaths and movements of each player must reflect the tone of each beat, and the grace with which one must wield the drumming sticks produces a visual representation of the story that each song tells.
During my summer in Seoul, I learned how to play the Janggu (장구), which is an hourglass-shaped drum. Here’s a picture of what it looks like:
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You play this drum with two different types of sticks, one held in each hand. One stick has a flat wooden end that you hit the drum with, and the other has a circular wooden ending. The two opposite heads of the drum’s body harmonize, and this effect is furthered with the contrasting sounds made by using the two different drum sticks.
In class, we played samul nori (사물놀이), a genre of traditional music that involves four different instruments: a large gong (징), a few small gongs (꽹과리) , several janggus (장구), and some buks (북, barrel drums). The performances of the instruments played together reflect relationships of nature: some say that the janggu represents rain, the small gongs represent thunder, the large gong is the sound of the wind, and the buk is the sound of clouds. 
I love how poetic the music is. Playing samul nori,  the instruments don’t just make sounds to match a beat, but rather, they become a part of a larger representation of the world, using music to tell a story.
I’ve linked a crazy samul nori performance below. See if you can hear the sound of the rain from the janggu, or if you can feel the passing of clouds through the buk. And one last note- what brings this music to life is the movements and the energy of the players.
A pretty insane (ie really cool) performance:
and this street performance with a janggu is really cool too:

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