Listen to the piece above. In a few paragraphs, analyze the musical function of the lead singer.

Korean Music: Listen to the piece above. In a few paragraphs, analyze the musical function of the lead singer, and the musical relationship between the lead vocal and the chorus

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Korean Music












Korean Music

It was prevalent for Koreans to sing at a time when they took specific type of labor during the pre – modern Korea. The song sang during this period was called work songs. Depending on the job functions, the work songs have different classifications such as funerals, farming, fishing, harvesting, and many more. In each classification, there is a unique stylistic and lyrical variation. Cry of Bier Bearer piece was used in the funeral march. In their traditional funeral ceremonies, Koreans recited the spirit of the dead by the cry of the bier-bearer.

During the ceremony (funeral march), people wearing white clothes are the ones carrying the bier with sacred objects including the dead person. In front of this team is the lead singer. The lead singer wears a black vest. Behind are the family members of the dead with unbleached hemp. The lead singer marches ahead of the entire ritual. With him is a hand bell which he uses to control the speed of the marching. The hand bell is in the rhythm of the vocals of the lead singer, and is ultimately accompanied by a Ch’anggo drum.

The lead singer chants with the harmonic rhythm in the voice of a warbled scream and makes a statement in music. The choruses then respond to him and reiterate at defined intervals. They sing in the sequence of “call-and – response” styles, which indicates the exchange between improvisations from the lead singer and the repetitive response from a group.

Since most of the Korean burial sites are on a hill, the rhythm of the song may differ depending on the landscape. The song demonstrates the music and kinetic function intertwined, and there are the natural points of transition in the song, which implies that, the tempo slow down when the procession passes flat plains whereas when the procession goes up the hill, the pace becomes quick. Nevertheless, Cry of Bier Bearer’s tempo does not seem to change; perhaps the burial ground wasn’t on a hill.



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