PANSORI, Korean Traditional Singing

This page is constructed to serve two purposes: (1) to demonstrate what Pansori is like and (2) to submit the materials used for my paper on Pansori.

(1) I put two media files (.rm) as samples of Pansori. Pansori is basically a story-telling. Therefore, it is a little bit difficult to appreciate it without understanding words. The performance of a whole Pansori can last longer than 6 hours. But here you can sample only a few minutes each of two stories. In Pansori performances, audience participation is not only encouraged but also required. Try to listen to Choo-Im-Sae (short words or expressions expressing approval or emotional involvement) of the drummer and the audience. 

Myeong-Chang Park, Dong-Jin

In his 80's, Myeong-Chang (meaning 'maestro') Park, Dong-Jin is still strong in his singing. This segment shows a typical performance of Pansori, in which a single singer impersonates all the necessary characters in the play while a sole drummer accompanies him.

Here, in this segment, he is singing a part of "Jeok-Byeog-Ga" which describes a battle.

In case you noticed, the thing Maestro Park is wearing underneath his white garment is made of bamboo. It is to keep his skin separate from the otherwise clinging clothes so that he may feel cooler during hot weather.

Myeong-Chang Jo, Tong-Dal & Ahn, Sook-Sun

This segment is a modernized performance of Pansori in which different characters are played by different singers. Also many Korean traditional musical instruments accompany the singing.

In this segment, Myeong-Change Jo, Tong-Dal plays "Nol-Boo", an obnoxious, greedy and selfish brother, and Maestro Ahn, Sook-Sun plays a wife of "Heung-Bu." Heung-Boo is very kind and gentle, even toward his evil older brother.

In this excerpt, Nol-Boo, who heard that his younger brother Heung-Buoo had just gotten very richly awarded for his good deeds, pays a visit. Nol-Buoo himself is not poor by any means. Even though he has been treating Heung-Buoo like a dirt, he has the nerve to demand something valuable from his brother. And Heung-Boo, being such a nice person, gives his brother a box full of treasure. The box itself is a beauty, called "Hwa-Cho-Jang." Heung-Boo offers to deliver it to his brother's house next day. But Nol-Boo decides to take it himself because he does not trust Heung-Boo. During his triumphant march back home, he tries to remember the name of the box he is carrying. But in his trying, he gets mixed up with the name and that makes this scene particularly funny.

*These two excerpts were recorded from KBS broadcast in Seoul back in 1998. I consulted with the producer of the program and heard from him that, as long as they are not used commercially, converting these excerpts into medial files and releasing them in the internet should not violate any law. 

(2) Some Characteristics of Pansori (Click figures for sound files.)

1. Aperiodicity

A stretch of [a] vowel of a very famous male singer.

Another male singer. Again, no periodicity.

Same singer, but in conversation. No periodicity even in conversation

2. Spectral characteristics

[o] of a female singer. Very prominent second partial!

3. Vibrato

Comparing to Western operatic singing, Pansori has vibrato with slower rate and bigger frequency modulation.

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