Rhythm and Folk Drumming (P’ungmul) as the Musical Embodiment of Communal Consciousness in South Korean Village Society

Author: Hesselink, Nathan

Publication details: Analytical and Cross-Cultural Studies in World Music, edited by Michael Tenzer and John Roeder, 263-87. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Weblink: http://oxfordindex.com

Abstract: This chapter suggests the musical means by which rhythm and folk drumming embody and recreate what South Korean folklorists and anthropologists have identified in traditional village society as the existence of a distinctive “communal consciousness.” Through a structural analysis of one village percussion ensemble’s core “piece” at the micro and macro levels, two key principles are exposed that account for such an awareness, principles referred to as recurrence and reinforcement. Focusing on the rhythmic cycle as the core building block of such performances, the discussion addresses the construction and placement of the cycles within the broader context of communal participation in the public sphere. While this acute sense of community has been demonstrated socially through political and familial ties that bind village inhabitants together in interconnected and interdependent ways, this essay provides a music-theoretical basis for its realization within the cultural-performative realm.