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Donald Womack금강 전도 Geumgang Jeondopiri & janggu 피리, 장구10:002017
금강 전도 (Geumgang Jeondo) was inspired by the painting of the same name, a work of the famed Korean artist Jeong Seon (also known by his pen name Kyomjae). It is one of the most well known paintings of the late Joseon period, generally considered to be the golden age of Korean painting. While clearly rooted in the Chinese landscape style (山水), the work focuses on more realistic representation rather than the idealized landscapes typical of Chinese painting, and has a density of texture and angularity that make it distinctly Korean.

The music has a character similar to that of the image, generally lyrical, but with an angularity that mirrors the structure of the painting, as if venturing into the mountains themselves. It begins slow and pensively as if surveying the path ahead before taking the first hesitant steps. Gradually the pace increases as it seemingly moves upward, crossing a series of small peaks and then resting before resuming its climb. As the summit grows nearer, the intensity of the music increases until it finally reaches its high point, from which it begins a gradual descent. The opening idea returns one more time at the end, though now, having climbed the mountain, understood from a different perspective.

The artist’s inscription on the painting reads “Even if you visit the mountain itself and tread on its every nook and cranny, how can your joy be compared with what you feel upon viewing this picture from your bedside?” Perhaps music can hint at such an experience as well.