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Donald WomackMu Nori 무노리 gayageum concerto 산조 가야금과 국악관현악를 위한 협주곡15:002018
무노리 (Mu Nori, meaning “shaman play”), a concerto for sanjo gayageum and gugak orchestra, seeks to capture the raw, manic energy that is manifest in the traditional Korean gut, or shamanic ritual. In a gut, through music and dance a shaman mediates between the human and the spirit worlds, becoming ever more frenetic in seeking to access a mystic plane between the two realms. The notion of sanjo, the quintessential instrumental genre of Korean music, with its ever-increasing tempo and intensity, is also clearly present in the piece, as its natural shape melds perfectly with the idea of moving toward a state of frenzy.

Much like shaman music, the essence of 무노리 lies in its use of intricately interlocking rhythms to create an energetic vitality. Simple melodic fragments are juxtaposed against conflicting beats to build multiple layers of rhythm. Various shamanic rhythmic patterns, or jangdan, are used, though often in ways that are very much non-traditional. They are frequently interrupted or fragmented, interspersed with other rhythms, or altogether ignored, as in the rhythmically free sections that occur at various points in the piece. Further, the melodic phrase structure frequently conflicts with the jangdan, creating a rhythmic tension that lends a new feel to the traditional character of sanjo.

The piece begins broadly, with a series of drum strokes that evoke a sense of timelessness, followed by the solo gayageum introducing the main melodic figure. As tension gradually builds, the orchestra enters and, like sanjo, the piece begins a long, rhythmic crescendo to a final, ecstatic climax at the end.

무노리is based on an earlier work, 무, for sanjo gayageum and janggu, and was written for Gilseon Jung. The expanded concerto work was composed for the Gyeonggi Korean Orchestra.