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Gayageum: Korean Traditional Instrument With Endless Possibilities
Lee Oneul  |  leetoday@hanyang.ac.kr
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[348호] 승인 2020.12.01  
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On October 9, 2020, Han Seung-won, a Sophomore of the Department of Korean Traditional Music, won the Grand Prize of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, coming first in the 18th Gurye-gun National Gayageum Contest.

Q. Could you briefly introduce the field you are currently studying?

A. I am a student in the Department of Korean Traditional Music, majoring in Gayageum, a Korean traditional instrument. I am also practicing traditional music, along with more advanced compositions.

Q. What were your motivations to participate in the Gurye-gun National Gayaguem Contest?

A. As a university student, I have always wanted to participate in as many contests as possible. The preliminary of the Gurye-gun National Gayageum Contest was conducted online, requiring performance videos. Last June, I had a fracture in my ankle, and I could not walk by myself. So, I decided to participate in the contest online.

Q. How did you prepare for the contest, and what did you perform? Were there any difficulties in the process?

A. The preparation for the contest required constant practice. I memorized the given song, focusing on refining the details. The preliminary song was the ‘Namchang: Ujochosudaeyeop’ and ‘Jinyang-jo’ of the ‘Kim Byeong-ho Sanjo’. For the finals, I performed the ‘Kim Byeongho Sanjo’. I had to film the performance video at home, but due to the noisy environment it was hard to concentrate. There was the inconvenience of the whole family having to try not to make any noise. The finals took place at the Natural Dream Park in Gurye-gun under strict social distancing, so we performed with a mask on stage. Playing for about 10 minutes with a mask was difficult as it was uncomfortable to breathe and the mask blocked my sight.

Q. What do you think is the beauty of Gayageum?

A. I think the beauty of Gayageum is that it has limitless ways to be adapted. There is a special method of playing called “Nonghyeon”, where you firmly press the string with your left hand and make it vibrate. This maximizes the diversity and dynamics of the music. Recently, new methods such as pounding on the instrument and creating harmony with both hands have been developed, used by many composers in Korea and also abroad.

Q. How did you feel about winning the award of Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism?

A. I felt rewarded for my endeavors. I promised myself to keep working hard. I would also like to express my gratitude to my family and teachers, who have been of great help.

Q. What are your personal goals?

A. During the semester, my goal is to study hard and improve my skills. I also hope to study various areas of music such as Electronic Music and Musical Instrument Digital Interface, leading to composing and performing music with Gayageum. 

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