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Drinking straws and shaman melodies: a historical and analytical study of the taepyeongso Francis, Aaron


This paper is about the taepyeongso (also known as hojoek, saenap, nallari), a Korean double-reed instrument closely related to the Chinese suona and a descendent of the Persian zurna. The instrument is examined from a number of perspectives: historical, theoretical, practical, and personal. For historians and musicologists, I compile core background information about the instrument from a variety of key sources; for amateur players and avid listeners, I attempt to provide new avenues for theoretical understanding and analytical inquiry. My own experience as a participant in learning the music in Korea serves as a backdrop to later analyses of melodic forms and structures from the taepyeongso “folk” repertoire. The repertoire may be divided into main three regional styles: neunggye (or gyeong-tori) in the central regions, sinawi in the southwest, and menari in the east. I examine each of these styles in relation to Korean theoretical perspectives on mode and melody. I then focus on gyeong-tori melodies, demonstrating through transcription and analysis of commercial recordings four characteristic approaches to variation and improvisation. In addition to musical analysis, I provide short biographies of important performers, a catalogue of performance contexts, and basic background to the instrument’s construction and playing technique.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International