Fall 2001

• SEM 2001 in Detroit
• From the President
• Publications
• Calls for Papers: CHIME & KSGSC
• SEM 2001 Paper Abstracts
• News from AKMR Members

YouYoung Kang, NewsletterEditor
Music Department, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
18952 E. Fisher Rd.
St. Mary’s City, MD 20686 USA

SEM 2001 in Detroit


AKMR Business Meeting

Friday, October 26th, 1:00-2:30 pm

AKMR Panel: Finding Our Voice, Theorizing Identity:  Research and Researchers in Contemporary Korean Music Studies

Thursday, October 25th, 11:00 am-1:00 pm

Heather Willoughby, Convener

“Myongin Myongch’ang: Songs and Sounds of the Masters”  Heather Willoughby

“Uri Saenghwal Eumak: Claiming Music Through Discourse in South Korea” Hilary Finchum-Sung

“Traditional Performance Isn’t Boring!: Recognizing Korean Traditional Music and Dance As Our Own”  Jin-Woo Kim

“Chuyo, chuyo, chuyo: Prayer Practice and Identity Among Korean Americans” Paul Yoon

Musical Performance: University of Michigan Korean Drumming Ensemble

Thursday, October 25th, 6:00-8:00 pm

Panel: Issues in Contemporary Korean Music

Friday, October 26th, 8:30-10:00 am

Myosin Kim, Chair

“Should Yosong Kukkuk be Abolished?: Rethinking Postcoloniality of Art in Korean Society”  Sunghye Joo

“The Acquisition of Artistic Power: How Hereditary Shamans of the East Coast of South Korea Learn to Sing, Dance, and Play”  Simon Mills

“South Korean P’ungmul/Nongak: Toward a Truly Democratic Music”  Nathan Hesselink

Return to Top

From the President

      2001 will certainly be remembered as a satisfying year for the AKMR. In the last newsletter I had the pleasure of reporting on the first conference on Korean music ever to be held outside Korea, a meeting entitled “Current Research in Korean Music: Assessment and Prospects,” held in February at the University of Hawai’i’s Center for Korean Studies and East-West Center. Since then, I have attended two more conferences at which English-language research on Korean music was well represented.

      The European Foundation for Chinese Music Research (CHIME) interprets “Chinese” broadly and accepts papers on a variety of Asian musics within and beyond the historical Chinese sphere of influence. This year’s conference, held in a fifteenth-century monastery in Venice, featured a complete panel on Korean music as well as my own paper in an otherwise Chinese panel. The CHIME conference provides an excellent opportunity for Korean music specialists to exchange ideas with colleagues in related fields, and for those accustomed to giant North American musicology conferences, it can be a refreshing change to meet in a more intimate atmosphere – and in some great locations. Next year’s CHIME conference meets in July in Sheffield, England. CHIME also publishes a refereed journal which is another potential outlet for our research.

      From Venice I went on to Seoul (via Chicago – such are the vagaries of air fair economics) for the sixth international conference of the Asian Music Research Institute at Seoul National University, entitled “Historical and Systematic Perspectives in Asian Music Research.” Though about half the presenters were Korean, all the papers were given in English and printed in both languages in an accompanying booklet, while discussion was facilitated by bilingual moderators. This annual conference is a valuable forum for dialogue with our colleagues in Korea as well as with experts on Asian musical traditions other than Korean.

      Both conferences were held in late September and were inevitably affected by the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack, with a number of presenters pulling out because they were either unable to travel or concerned about safety. We should probably expect some of this attrition at the forthcoming Society for Ethnomusicology conference in Detroit as well. Personally, I am taking the view that this is a particularly safe time to travel, with airport security being tighter than ever; but everyone will have to make their own decision on this point. Despite the cancellations, both the September conferences were extremely worth while, and we have a lot to look forward to in Detroit, with not one but two panels on Korean music, and a performance by the University of Michigan Korean Drumming Ensemble to boot. Don’t forget our business meeting, Friday 1:00-2:30 in the Board of Trustees Room, at which the agenda will include the first award of the AKMR Prize for the most distinguished student paper on a Korean topic presented at the previous SEM meeting.

      If you are getting ready to present a paper in Detroit, remember the ten golden rules I wrote about in the last newsletter: plan your paper for listeners, not readers; keep within the time limit; choose a topic of appropriate size (not too big); use clear, direct language; look at your audience while speaking; play appropriate (but short) audio and video examples; master the technology; provide a handout or use the overhead projector for visual aids; make a memorable beginning and ending; and in the ensuing discussion, stick to the questions you are asked.  Let’s follow these simple but effective principles to make our mark on the field in quality as well as quantity.


                        Andrew Killick, President

                        October, 2001

Return to Top



Hesselink, Nathan.  'P'ungmul is Played with Your Heel!': Dance as a Determinant of Rhythmic Construct in Korean Percussion Band Music/Dance." Umak-kwa munhwa 4:99-110 (2001).

–––––, ed.  Contemporary Directions: Korean Folk Music Engaging the Twentieth Century and Beyond. Korea Research Monograph. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California (forthcoming 2001).

Return to Top

Call for Papers: 8th International CHIME Conference

Sheffield, England July 26-29, 2002


East Asian musics are sometimes assumed by the unfamiliar to be dry, intellectual, calculated, formal. The 8th International Conference of CHIME, the European Foundation for Chinese Music, puts the spotlight on the earthy, the passionate, and the impulsive. How is music the food of love in China and her neighbours, and how have the passions inspired the musical urge? These and related questions will be addressed in a conference headed 'Sex, Love, and Romance: Reflections on the Passions in East Asian Music'.  The meeting is hosted by the Music Department of the University of Sheffield in England, and is scheduled to take place from 26 to 29 July 2002. Topics range from romanticism and love as represented in opera and stage genres to flirting and courtship in folk songs, or from aspects of gender in East Asian music to the impact of 'holy' passions in ritual and devotional genres in countries like China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan.

        Abstracts of around 300 words are now invited for twenty-minute presentations. Proposers may also submit panel sessions of a maximum of 120 minutes (including discussion).  In this case, an abstract of around 300 words should detail the theme and interest of the panel as a whole, with abstracts of 100-200 words for each contribution. A small number of papers will also be accepted under the open theme of 'New Research' (preference will be given to students) and poster presentations may also be offered.

        In order to generate a maximum of concentrated debate and feedback to presenters, the conference will be organised without parallel sessions. Consideration of abstracts will begin on 15 November 2001 and continue until all slots are allocated. Early acceptance and letters of invitation are available for those who need them to secure funding. Send abstracts, bookings and enquiries to:

      Dr. Jonathan Stock,

      Department of Music

      University of Sheffield

      38 Taptonville Road

      Sheffield S10 5BR


      Tel. +44-114 222 0483

      Fax +44-114 266 8053


Conference website:


Booking forms and details about registration fees and available accommodation can be found on that website.

Call for Papers:

7th Annual Korean Studies Graduate Student Conference 2002

Harvard University, Saturday, March 9, 2002


This conference is open to masters and doctoral students specializing in any area of Korean studies.  Individual papers as well as organized panels will be accepted.

Deadline for abstracts: December 1, 2001

(Abstracts should be about *one page* in length; email submissions only)

Deadline for Papers: January 31, 2002

(Papers should be approximately 25-30 pages, double spaced)

      E-mail abstracts with name, institutional affiliation, address, phone, and e-mail address to Julianna Lee and Sue Jean Cho (Conference co-chairs) at:

      For further information and abstracts from past conferences, visit the website at:

            This conference is sponsored by the Korea Institute at Harvard University.

Return to Top



AKMR PANEL: Finding Our Voice, Theorizing Identity: Research and Researchers in Contemporary Korean Music Studies

Heather Willoughby (Columbia University), Session Coordinator

      In recent years there has been a proliferation of interest in the study of Korean music, both within Korea and abroad, among Koreans, Korean-Americans and non-Koreans alike.  This panel is comprised of graduate students who have recently completed their fieldwork and are currently writing their dissertations.  As they do so, they seek to find their own voice as ethnomusicologist and ethnographers. Their work represents a broad range of studies that are being conducted on Korean music, and yet each work intersects at the point of addressing issues of identity. Using previous descriptive scholarship on Korean music as a foundation for their work, these scholars focus their research through the lens of current discourses on identity formation.

      They deal with traditional music, contemporary music, and contemporary music based on tradition; secular and sacred music; music staged in Korea and that which is performed in America.  Within these vast dimensions there is a unifying and underlying desire of the musicians, audience and sponsoring institutions to find and express their voice as Koreans, whether through the staging of traditional music performances, the creation of newly-composed traditional musics, the articulation of subtle vocal timbres, or communal prayers sung in a Korean-American church.  The panelists aim not only to give voice to their own research and studies, but also to enunciate a sense of Koreanness, and to represent the identity of the Koreans among whom they have conducted fieldwork.


“Myôngin Myôngch’ang: Songs and Sounds of the Masters”
Heather Willoughby (Columbia University)

      In 1987 Yu Ik-so published a biographical compilation of South Korea’s most famous traditional musicians.  The book, entitled Myôngin Myôngch’ang (Great People, Great Singing), includes entries describing the life, career and music of some of the 20th century’s greatest singers of p’ansori (an indigenous narrative art form).  As an appendix Yu lists fifty-three terms used to describe particular vocalization techniques, the mastery of which is essential to becoming a great p’ansori singer. 

      In my research on the aesthetics of sound and emotional expression in p’ansori I have often contemplated what qualities make a particular singer a “great master.”  In this paper I will discuss the correlation between the mastery of the necessary vocal techniques, the ability to convey certain emotions through those sounds and the process of becoming a consummate singer.  I will concentrate on the discursive discourse of contemporary p’ansori performers in describing and enacting those sounds.  I will follow the methodological approach of Steven Feld when he explained that: “. . .the ways people talk about music can be a significant datum of music concepts, theory, and experience. . . . Speech about music represents an attempt to construct a metaphoric discourse to signify awareness of the more fundamental discourse that music communicates in its own right” (Feld 1994:92-93).  In so doing I will discuss the way that the discourse describes not only the process of mastery itself, but in a broader sense issues of self-identification as a Korean through the emotions expressed in  songs and sounds. 

Uri Saenghwal Eumak:Claiming Music Through Discourse in South Korea”
Hilary Finchum-Sung (IndianaUniversity)

      My research examines South Korean modern music culture as a case study for issues that arise when people are faced with determining the value of their traditional music. In this paper, I explore the discourse actively shaping perceptions of kugak (Korean traditional music) and how this effects the legitimization of new compositions and performance styles as Korean music. The 20th century has seen a renaissance in composition of music based on kugak, but this has been both a help and a hindrance to traditional music.  Debates over preservation and development have led to questions about whether kugak is most valuable as an unchanging museum relic or as a music that reflects the changes in Korean cultural identity. Here I discuss how people’s historic assumptions, agendas, and musical definitions have built and continue to build a musical culture that is malleable and future-directed.  The goal is to create uri saenghwal eumak(lit., music of our lives), but what is included and how it is included depends on who is doing the defining.  Multiple ideas come together in a discursive process that in and of itself creates a distinctive modern musical culture.  Previous research has focused on musical genre and composers.  Here, I offer a different perspective on music and identity formation in modern South Korea by embracing the diverse contributions of individuals and institutions and recognizing their responsibility for the character and future of their music.

“Traditional Performance Isn’t Boring!: Recognizing Korean Traditional Music and Dance As Our Own”
Jin-Woo Kim (University of Michigan)

      What does traditional music and dance mean to today’s younger and older Korean generations, most of whom are mainly exposed to Western music in their daily lives? This paper examines the presentation and reception of the Saturday traditional performance presented regularly at the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts (hereafter NCKTPA). 

      In 1983, the NCKTPA launched its regular traditional music and dance performance. The purpose of regularly staging a variety of music and dance repertories was to promote traditional performances, out of concern for their fading popularity among Koreans. The audiences during the earlier periods of the performances mostly comprised a small number of the elderly. Despite the uncertainty of its success at the onset, the weekly performance managed to grow throughout the years until today. Recently, at each performance the seats are occupied by a wide range of audience members, from grade school students to the elderly, including foreigners. A majority of the audience members consist of secondary school and college students. For whatever reasons the audiences attend the performance, the current weekly presentation appears to draw a stable number of people of whom many reveal positive reactions that are beyond their initial expectations.

      In this presentation, I examine the public discourse on the weekly performance at NCKTPA and traditional music and dance based on fieldwork I conducted in 2000.  Further, I explore the ways in which the repertories are presented and also the role and significance of this weekly traditional performance in heightening the awareness of Korean identity.     


“Chuyo, chuyo, chuyo: Prayer practice and identity among Korean Americans”
Paul Yoon (Columbia University)

      Recent theorization on “place” shuns static or objectively-given models of place in favor of understanding it as a processual event that bears the marks of sociality.  Arguing that anthropology mostly ignores the sonic element of place, Steven Feld theorizes the ways in which social actors knowledge of the world is deeply implicated in the sounds that surround them.  He refers to this as “acoustemology,” by which he means, “an exploration of sonic sensibilities, specifically of ways in which sound is central to making sense, to knowing, to experiential truth.  This seems particularly relevant to understanding the interplay of sound and felt balance in the sense and sensuality of emplacement, of making place” (Feld 1996: 97).  An acoustemological perspective demands the deep investigation of knowledge and truth, via sounds and music, that speaks directly to the kinds of questions identity studies seek to answer.

        This paper will focus on research conducted in a Korean-American church in New York City.  Although, only 20% of Koreans in Korea profess to practice some form of Christianity, between 70%-80% of Koreans in America affiliate with some Christian church (Kim 1996: 66).  These numbers, however, only hint at the varied meanings of the Christian church for Korean Americans.  This paper will focus on a prayer practice called t’ongsongkido, roughly translated as “all-together prayer.” I will show how a t’ongsongkido style (out-loud, spoken/shouted prayer with music) creates a sense of “Korean place” for both first (born in Korea) and second (born in the US) generation Korean Americans.


PANEL: Issues in Contemporary Korean Music

Myosin Kim (University of Hawaii at Manoa), Chair

"South Korean P’ungmul/Nongak: Toward a Truly Democratic Music”
Nathan Hesselink (Illinois State University)

      As a researcher and enthusiast of the South Korean semi-rural folk percussion tradition known as p’ungmul/nongak, I have frequently encountered references in the native literature to the tradition’s inherently “democratic” nature. This commentary, however, seldom provides any specific criteria for what a truly democratic music might entail. At the very broadest level, it seems that three basic conditions must be met: 1) equality of opportunity, meaning societal attitudes and the musical structure itself not only support but encourage participation by all, generally regardless of age, sex, social or financial background, or level of training and previous experience; 2) equality of treatment, both of the individual participant and his/her instrumental/vocal line and the importance placed on that line’s contribution to the sonic whole; and 3) allowance for individual expression within a collective group effort.         While societal or cultural factors are frequently addressed within our own literature, this paper will focus on the musical realization of these conditions and its relation to deeper social meaning in p’ungmul/nongak. Democratic music in this context reveals four binding features: 1) toleration and even respect of difference; 2) use of repetition, or, perhaps better yet, recurrence; 3) freedom in the form of improvisation; and 4) transmission generally occuring as oral tradition.


The abstracts of the following papers were not available at the printing of this Newsletter.  They will be included in the Spring 2002 issue.

“Should Yosong Kukkuk be Abolished?: Rethinking Postcoloniality of Art in Korean Society”  Sunghye Joo (University of Maryland, College Park)

“The Acquisition of Artistic Power: How Hereditary Shamans of the East Coast of South Korea Learn to Sing, Dance, and Play”  Simon Mills (School of Oriental and African Studies, London University)

Return to Top

News from AKMR Members

Nathan Hesselink announces the publication of an article and a book (see “Publications”, p. 2).  He also spent the past summer in Seoul intensively studying samul nori at the newly-formed "Ullimtô" studio founded by the Kungnip Kukagwôn samul nori performer/researcher Ch'oe Pyôngsam.

In addition to the activities reported in the “From the President” column, Andrew Killick will be presenting a paper titled "What Should They Know of England?: Cross-Cultural Comparison in World Music Teaching and Research" at the SEM 2001 conference in Detroit.


Please e-mail information about lectures, conferences, and performances relating to Korean music as well as news of your publications, paper presentations, and professional activities to the Editor at: 

You may also mail/fax the news to:

      YouYoung Kang

      Arts & Letters

      St. Mary’s College of Maryland

      St. Mary’s City, MD 20686


            Fax: (240) 895-4958