Nongak (farmers’ music) that has been handed down mostly in Amidong, Seo-gu, Busan
Busan Nongak is rooted in geollipnongak (nongak performed for fundraising purposes) performed in Gobundori in Seodaesin-dong, Seo-gu, Busan. Gobundori, former name of Seodaesin-dong, was named after a wide field where “pretty” (gobun in Busan dialect) grasses grew as there were no stones or scrubs. Gobundori Nongak had long been passed down along with farming life until it was discontinued during the Japanese colonial rule of Korea (1910-1945). After liberation, it was revived as Gobundori Geollipnongak, led by some residents, but the nongak troupe was later dissolved with the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950.
In the first half of the 1950s, Yu Sam-ryong (Kor. 유삼룡, Chin. 柳三龍), who led Gobundori Geollipnongak, and Lee Myeong-cheol, who had fled from Hwanghae-do Province in North Korea to Ami-dong, Busan, during the war, reorganized the troupe. Subsequently, when Lee Myeong-cheol came to lead the troupe as the lead small gong player (sangsoe), the base of Gobundori Geollipnongak naturally moved from Seodaesin-dong to Ami-dong. From that time it was known as the Ami Nongak Troupe. As a professional ensemble organized to make a living, the Ami Nongak Troupe consisted largely of those who had been pungmul performers in their hometowns but had fled to Ami-dong, Gamcheon-dong, and Doseong-dong in Busan during the Korean War.
As Ami Nongak was designated Intangible Cultural Heritage No. 6 of the city of Busan in 1980, the name was changed to Busan Nongak, or Busan Ami Nongak. Although the designation was limited to the pangut (entertainment-based nongak performance) component of Busan Nongak at the time, new light was shed on the unique quality of the jisinbapgi (treading on the earth gods) part of Ami Nongak. In 2011 jisinbapgi was designated Intangible Cultural Heritage No. 18 of Busan under the name Gobundori Geollip. Currently, Busan Nongak is handed down by the Busan Nongak Preservation Association.
The geollipgut of Busan Nongak is performed in the order of modeumgut (rite to gather the musicians), gigut (rite to carry the flag), dangsangut (rite to the village tutelary deity), and umulgut (well rite), then going from house-to-house to perform jipdori, or jisinbapgi. Unlike geollipgut in other regions, Busan Nongak features performance of the gigut prior to dansangut. Jipdori is carried out in the order of daemungut (rite for the front gate god), seongjupuri (rite for the household guardian god), jowanggut (rite for the kitchen god), jangdokgut (rite at the crock terrace), gotgangut (rite for the storehouse god), jeongnanggut (rite for the outhouse god), magutgangut (rite for the stable god), and yongwangje (rite for the Dragon King). The text of seongjupuri is unique as it was influenced by a shamanic book called “Bulseolmyeongdangsinjugyeong, ”
chanted by a shaman to pray for longevity and blessings. As the narration is long, it has the structure of a duet, with the sangsoe taking charge of seongjupuri by singing loudly, and busoe (second small gong player) performing other jisinpuri (rite for the earth gods) by singing softly. Busan Nongak is also distinct from nongak of other regions in that it performs yongwanggut (rite for the Dragon King of the Sea) to pray for a good catch after the house-to-house tour.
At present, Busan Nongak is handed down with a focus on the pangut part of geollipgut. The Busan Nongak troupe comprises one farming flag (nonggi) bearer, two farming flag attendants, two command (yeonggi) flag bearers, one hojeok (double-reed oboe) player, two kkwaenggwari (small gong) players, two jing (large gong) players, four buk (barrel drum) players, four janggu (hourglass-shaped drum) players, eight sogo (hand-held drum) players, eight beokgu (dharma drum) players, one masked nobleman (yangbangwangdae), one hunter (posu), one bride (gaksi), and one servant boy (hadong). Except for the farming flag bearer, hojeok player, and japsaek (actors), the musicians are organized in even numbers symbolizing male and female. They wear white pants and jeogori, a navy blue vest, and a tri-colored sash of blue, red, and yellow bands wrapped over the shoulders and around the waist.
The farming flag is a long rectangular piece of white cloth with a fringe of black triangles around the edges. In the center of the flag is the slogan nongjacheonhajidaebon (Kor. 농자천하지대본, Chin. 農者天下之大本, lit. agriculture is the prop of the country). Rectangular pieces of cloth in blue, yellow, red hung down from the bottom of the flag. The flag pole has pheasant plumes at the top and on either side of the flag top five long colored strips of cloth are hung for decoration. Of the cloths, the white cloth is longer than the others and is held by the two attendants on either side. Holding the white cloth with both hands, the flag attendants always follow the farming flag. During the gut performance, at times they perform hand dances while holding the white cloth. For the command flag, a triangular flag with the Chinese character for yeong (令), meaning “command, ” is written in the center. The farming flag bearer, farming flag attendants, and the command flag bearer wear a peaked hat on the head. The one hojeok player wears the same garment and peaked hat as the flag bearers but wears only a red sash.
The two kkwaenggwari players are divided into sangsoe (lead small gong player) and busoe (second small gong player). Long rectangular pieces of cloth in five colors are attached to the end of the stick of the small gong for decoration. The sangsoe and busoe wear a jeollip (type of military hat) with soft feathery tuft attached. The two jing players are divided into sujing (Kor. 수징, Chin. 首鉦, lit. lead large gong) and jongjing (Kor. 종징, Chin. 從鉦, lit. second large gong) players. The jing is held in the hand with the string attached through the hole on the edge of the rim. The stick of the large gong is decorated in the same manner as that of the small gong stick. The jing player wears the same garment as that of the sangsoe. Although jing players wore a peaked hat in the past, they now were a hat with a spinning streamer attached as the sangsoe does. The four barrel drum players are divided into subuk (lead barrel drum), bubuk (second barrel drum), jongbuk (third barrel drum), and kkeutdaebuk (large barrel drum in last position). These drummers play the drum with strings of white cloth hung on the shoulder and wear a spinning streamer hat with feathers attached as the lead small gong player and the large gong player do.
The four janggo (hourglass-drum) players are divided into the lead janggo player, second janggo player, third janggo player, and last janggo player. They wear jeollip with a cord attached instead of a feathers. The eight sogo (hand-held drum) players are divided into the lead sogo player, second sogo player, third sogo player, fourth sogo player, fifth sogo player, sixth sogo player, seventh sogo player and eighth sogo player. They wear jeollip with a cord attached as the janggo players do. The eight beopgo players dress the same as the sogo players, but they wear a peaked hat with white blossoms attached unlike that of sogo players. The masked nobleman wears a blue long coat and jeongjagwan (scholar’s cap), holding a long tobacco pipe in one hand and a fan in the other. It is said that there was a clown playing the role of scholar along with a nobleman clown in the past. The hunter traditionally wears white pants and jacket, a leopard print fur vest, and beonggeoji (fur hat worn by lower military officials) carrying a net bag with pheasants in it and a wooden gun. The new bride wears a red skirt and yellow jacket and a peaked hat decorated with colorful blossoms. The servant boy wears a red kwaeja (vest) and carries a small cloth bag in hand. The boy’s face is painted white to stress the appearance of a clown.
In the pangut of Busan Nongak, all chibae (musicians) except for the beopgo players wear a spinning streamer hat to perform sangmonori (hatstreamer twirling dance). The pangut features nongsapuri (mimicking farming work around the year through music and dance), well-developed solo performances, including lead janggu and beopgu performance and barrel drum dance, and excellent artistry of the performers. In particular, Busan Nongak’s utjangnoreum (spinning hat attachments to the left and right, front and back), which is performed according to the deotboegi rhythm, is outstanding to watch. The pangut is performed in the following order:
This gut is performed prior to the pangut in order to gather chibae (percussionists) together and call the roll. When the sangsoe strikes the small gong shortly according to the one-hit and one-strike rhythms, percussionists gather together to form a line in the order of kkwaenggwari, jing, daebuk, beopgo, and sogo players. Once the line is formed, they come forward in a row while playing two-strike and three-strike jangdan. Going beyond the function of gathering chibae together, modeumgut serves to announce the beginning of the gut to the audience and call attention to the performance.
Gilgut (street rite or introductory street performance) was originally marching music that was performed while walking along the street to move from one village to the next. However, as Busan Nongak was restructured to be focused on pangut, gilgut began to be used to enter the pangut yard and prepare an insagut (greeting performance). When the sangsoe strikes the small gong to the rhythmic pattern of dadeuraegi and then deotboegi, chibae come forward in a row to the pangut yard and form a line. With the farming flag bearer at the lead, the command flag bearer, hojeok, sangsoe, jing, buk, janggu players, and japsaek (actors) in this order make a large circle and back to file in three rows. At times, however, they do not file in three rows but instead make a big circle only.
After turning around the pangut yard to the deotboegi, percussionists stand still at the signal of sangsoe, then greet the audience while playing three-strike and five-strike rhythms.
Matchumgut is a madang (act or movement) in which percussionists arrange their file again while coordinating their rhythmic patterns and body movements prior to the main performance. Percussionists make a circular formation while rotating counterclockwise, then at the signal of sangsoe, they rotate clockwise while playing three-strike and nine-strike rhythms.
Hohogut is the act in which pungmul sounds and players’ exhilarating sounds mix together, and percussionists run in a zigzag while rotating in a circular formation. At this time, sangsoe chants “ho ho” and in response to this, barrel drum, hourglass-shaped drum, hand drum, and Buddhist drum players make instrumental sounds, playing mostly two-strike, four-strike, and eight-strike rhythms. When hohogut becomes fast, they go on to dadeuraegi. When sangsoe stops playing the small gong, chibae perform the movement called yeonpungdae (a series of rapid turns moving in a circle in the counterclockwise direction, facing the outside with the upper body bent forward) then stop at the signal of sangsoe, and rotate in a circle.
Madanggut is the main performance conducted in the yard (madang) according to one-strike and 12-strike rhythms . The lead small gong player and Buddhist drum players repeat jjigeumsae and eopeobaegi: the former skill is spinning hat streamer hat to form the eight (八)-shape, then to fall forward to touch the ground twice with the streamer; the latter is to sit down awkwardly twice and stand up twice in a circular formation to the rhythmic pattern of deotboegi jangdan. In the past, chibae demonstrated a fortress-building performance in a file at the end of madanggut, but now all of them sit down to prepare for mungut (gate rite).
- Mungut (gate rite)
Mungut is an act to express the house-to-house tour of jeollipgut before entering the gate. When the command flags are set in X-shape from either side, seated percussionists stand up, one by one, to form two lines. Percussionists shout, “Please open the gate, master, and let your servant Manbok enter.” Then, they pass through the command flags to enter the gate, mostly playing seven-strike jangdan.
This gut is a madang (act) in which percussionists are divided in two lines of movement to cast away evil spirits from five directions, including north, east, west, south, and center. They play the rhythmic patterns of eight-strike and 10-strike garak. There is no change in garak, and change in formations makes lines. Instead of one line, lead by sangsoe, winding in five directions, sangsoe and busoe respectively lead two lines into separate lines. Each line makes a formation in south east and northwest directions to perform jinpuri (file formations), then the two lines are finally merged to make a large winding-straw mat or snail formation in the center, surrounding the command flags.
Umulgut is a madang (act) in which percussionists, who have played vigorously in the obangjin madang, slow down and take a break while catching their breath. Without unwinding the snail formation made in the previous obangjin madang, percussionists rotate while making a circular formation. At the signal of sangsoe, they rotate in the opposite direction, then with the performance yard in the back, they turn around in taegeukjin (yin yang symbol-shaped formation). Then, making a circular formation, they squat and rise as they move forward playing their instruments (eopeobaegi).
- Yeongsan Dadeuraegi
Yeongsan dadeuraegi is a swirling pangut madang or small gong garak which is organized as an independent madang to be performed prior to nongsapuri madang. This madang has the meaning of wrapping up pangut that has been performed until then. At this time, chibae make a square bracket (ㄷ)-shaped file, and beginning with slow three-strike rhythm, they rush to play danmori (hurried drive) and then seven-strike rhythm to create artistic ecstasy and exhilaration to the fullest.
Nongsapuri is an act or movement (madang) in which performers mimic farming work around the year with a farming flag set up in front of them. Buddhist drum players perform the movement of sowing the seeds, pulling out of seedlings, transplanting rice seedlings, weeding, harvesting, threshing, and stacking sacks of rice in turn. While playing one-strike, two-strike, four-strike, and seven-strike rhythms, they adjust their pace with a fast drive such as jajinmori jangdan according to the movement of performance.
Pungnyeongut (lit. good harvest rite) expresses the joy of a good harvest after finishing farming work while playing gutgeori, a slow deotboegi rhythm. Dharma drum players dance (beokgunori) while making a circle in the center of the arena. In the past, pungnyeongut was also called seungjeongut, and was organized right after obangjingut. Deotboegi madang (mask dacne drama act) was sometimes organized separately after pungnyeongut.
- Deulbeokgu (Buddhist drum)
Deulbeokgu performance is a lively and exhilarating madang in which Buddhist drum players kick the drum or repeat the dance move of standing up and down. This gut embodies the beokgu dance moves of Busan, an area featuring outgoing and masculine character. Chibae play two-strike, three-strike, and six-strike rhythms.
- Solo Performance
In this madang, sangsoe (lead gong player), sogo (hand-held drum), janggo (double-headed drum), and buk (barrel drum) performance is acted out in that order. As its artistry of performance is outstanding, Busan Nongak features relatively well developed solo performance compared to other nongak. Solo performance is customarily conducted by each percussionist, but at times it is done in groups such as in sabuk (four barrel drums) performance.
- Yeoldubalsangmonori (12-feet streamer hat twirling dance)
This performance showcases feats of spinning a long streamer hat, represented by 12 bal (feet) streamer. Chibae play mostly two-strike and ninestrike rhythms, but at times seven-strike rhythms. When this sangmo performance is over, chibae surround the performance space rotating in a circle, then greet the audience to wrap up the dance performance.
Busan Nongak is significant in that it not only reflects characteristics of modern and contemporary Busan culture that is based on openness and mixed use, but it also demonstrates the aspects of modern urban geollipgut, including jeombang (store) gut and gongjang (factory) gut. Busan Nongak has established an original realm as professional pungmul performers from Gyeongsang Province and other regions have served as the agents of transmission while the rhythmic patterns and performances of Busan area have been mixed with those of tteunsoe (type of sangsoe) from other areas. For this reason, first, Busan Nongak has naturally incorporated tteunsoe garak from Gyeongsang-do Province and also has slow four-beat gutgeori jangdan more than nongak from other areas in Gyeongsang-do. Second, Busan Nongak features diverse and colorful dance moves and has nongsanori, which is to mimic farming work through music and dance. Third, it is distinctive from other nongak in that its performers demonstrate excellent artistry, including barrel drum dance, Buddhist drum dance, and hat-streamer twirling dance, and that its solo performance is well developed.