counterfnord

Gigs, dance, art

March 12th, 2010: Baramgot

@musée guimet

The Korean material in Emmanuelle Gibello’s recent piece made me realize how little I know about Korean music — which is a weird gap indeed. This show was a perfect opportunity to start fixing that.

Baramgot‘s first set felt more traditional, while the second mixed in other elements, mainly Indian music which was present through a sitar but more generally throughout one the later songs. I wasn’t all that convinced by this influence when it was that strong, but I think it found its place in the last piece, a rather long one with many ideas and patterns that still had a narrative cohesion, and a thoroughly enjoyable piece for me.

The first part of the show was the most interesting for me, as it introduced me to several instruments I had never heard — the main exception was the hourglass drum. My favorite was definitely the geomungo. A long zither with relatively few strings and big frets, it is played with a short stick in a quite percussive way. Its sound had the same pleasing roughness as its looks, but I quickly made out the many subtleties that the free hand could add by varying pressure on the strings. In a way, that’s close to my first impression of Korean music: parts of it were close to Japanese or Chinese music, but with a very different approach, it seemed more direct and rough than the neighboring court styles at first, but with a little time I could figure out that there was just as much going on.

The gayageum was another nice instrument, another zither but with a diagonal of bridges. It was less unusual, looking close to a koto. The playing style made all the difference there too. Maybe it’s because I’m not familiar with it, but I thought the nuances were less strongly asserted. They used other instruments, including a flute and a reed oboe called Piri that has a very nice sound, but I’m just not so much into wind instruments these days.

It was my first contact with this music, so I guess I can’t expect more from that first step than getting a rough idea of the sounds. Hopefully some insight into the music itself will come later. It definitely sounded worth pursuing.

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March 20, 2010 - Posted by | Music | ,

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