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Musicology Distinguished Lecture Series: Prof. Keith Howard, Uni. of London

Friday, October 20, 2017

5:00pm, Earl V. Moore Building, Glenn E. Watkins Lecture Hall


“Interpretations at Home and Abroad: Iconographical Depictions of the Soundworld of a Korean Martial Processional”

The martial processional, Taech’wit’a, is preserved in South Korea through the maintenance of a limited and formulaic repertoire as Intangible Cultural Property 46. The revival of recent decades masks a break in performance at the beginning of the 20th century and a troubled initial redevelopment under Japanese colonial control. To do so, the identity enshrined in the Property designation, and the musical soundworld, has been reliant on iconography. But, the earliest iconographic representation Koreans have identified is in a 1600-year-old tomb on territory then home to a Chinese commandery, while some of the most elaborate depictions of martial music come down to us from Japanese sources. How are these sources interpreted to create something iconically Korean? This paper explores, for the first time, the procession of instruments in a previously unknown Japanese 12m-long hand scroll that has been attributed to Kanō Tōun Masunobu (1625-1694), the Chōsen shisetsu gyōretsu zukan, and the disguised musical activity in one of Hokusai’s (1760-1849) ‘100 Views of Mount Fuji’ woodblock prints. Neither depiction has to date been referenced by Korean musicologists. Both celebrate the extraordinary rather than the everyday: they date from a period when Korea’s relations with Japan were tightly controlled—over a 200-year period, Korea dispatched just 10 envoys to Japan, each following a regular, seasonal path. The hand scroll juxtaposes Japanese samurai and Korean musicians, while the second, where, a decidedly secular party replaces any martial overtones, dispenses with formality. To the Japanese artists, difference was tempered by their knowledge of Japanese musical practice, while Korean scholars examining the existing iconography (including tomb paintings), bring difference into alignment with a Korea-centered history. Using these significant new resources, the author explores how a specific martial music has travelled and transmigrated, and how it has been presented, re-presented, preserved and re-preserved.

Lecture co-sponsored by the Confucius Institute and the Nam Center for Korean Studies.

Free - no tickets required

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower