Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival - Making new waves with old music
A well-known traditional Korean percussions or 'samulnori' group made their debut at the recent Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF).
With a colourful programme of spectacular percussions performance, haunting shamanic chants and entrancing acrobatic dances, Noreum Machi really took the stage by storm.
This writer had the privilege to make the acquaintance of the group's artistic director Kim Ju-hong and manager Kang Da-hae during the festival and gained some insight into the state of traditional music in South Korea.
The humble beginning
Founded in 1993, Noreum Machi represents Kim�s passion in traditional music, specifically in samulnori.
Samulnori music had its humble origin in the rural areas, strongly based on harvest rituals and shamanism.
"Over the ages, it became a minstrel performance. To us, our music is like a message from Nature. It is spiritual and humanistic at the same time," said Kim.
The group name itself is minstrel jargon, a compound of two words 'nolda' (to play) and 'machida' (to end).
In competitions, noreummachi would refer to the player so skilled that no one else would dare to play after. In other words, the very best. The unwritten rule was that the best player would end any performance with a demonstration of the skill and timing that earned the title noreummachi.
Kim comes from a family of traditional musicians in Jindo, an island located off the southwestern coast of the Korean peninsula.
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