Performance by one or several musicians playing the hourglass-shaped drum (janggu) while dancing.
Seoljanggunori, a form of individual nori (performance, lit. play), is performed by the janggu player(s) standing in the center of an open-air performance space. The drum is slightly tilted sideways and tied close to the body. If right-handed, the drummer ties the janggu so that the hand holding the drum stick called gungchae (shaped like a mallet with a round end) is at the bottom of the drum, and the other hand, which holds the drum stick called yeolchae (thinner stick-like whip), is at the top. The janggu player performs various dances while playing the drum, twirling the streamer on his chaesangmo (hat with paper streamer attached) to the left and right in turns, and dancing with a focus on foot movements. In parts of the performance when the drummer does not need to use his hands, he may present a wonderful shoulder dance.
Seoljanggunori is mostly performed in pangut (entertainmentoriented nongak combining music, dance, and acrobatics) in which troupe members demonstrate their respective individual skills. Led by the sangsoe (lead gong player), the drummer comes to the center of the formation and begins to play solo. Standing in a circle, the sangsoe and other musicians play the musical accompaniment at the lowest volume to enable the sound of the drum to be clearly heard. Seoljanggunori is generally performed by one drummer, but these days it may be performed by groups of two or four. When performing solo, the drummer has much greater flexibility and can exhibit various skills impromptu. Both the drumming and the dance of seoljanggunori are important, as is the ability to draw exclamations of encouragement (chuimsae) or other responses from the audience.
The janggu rhythms are as delicate and complicated as those of the kkwaenggwari (small gong), which means that the drum is played in various ways. While both the janggu and kkwaenggwari are excellent for playing rhythm patterns on their own, they are used together because the two instruments have a complementary tone. The mingling of the metal sounds of the gong and the leather sounds of the drum results from emphasis on the harmony of sound.
The dance moves of seoljanggunori are many and varied in terms of method of performance or body movements. Sukbakdeodeum means playing the drum with the right hand. Gokkaldeodeum is the movement in which the janggu player touches his peaked hat (gokkal) with the drumstick (gunggulchae), and is performed between the rhythm patterns (jangdan). Tongdollim (barrel spinning) is the movement of hitting the left side of the drum and twirling the drumstick, generally with the right leg placed forward or to the side in kneeling position and left leg stretched out. Chaebakkumchigi (hitting the drum while exchanging sticks) is the movement of crossing the two hands over at the back, performed to enhance the mood between rhythms. Sachae is the movement of hitting the left side of the drum with the gunggulchae and performing a shoulder dance with the hand holding the yeolchae. Gunggulchaedeonjigi (lit. throwing the mallet) is throwing the drumstick into the air and catching it again, a feat executed toward the end of the whole performance. Jeopsidolligi (lit. dish spinning) is spinning the drumstick between the fingers. Tedollim (lit. rim spinning) is spinning the metal rim of the hourglass-shaped drum. Kkachigeoreum (lit. magpie steps) means taking two steps to each beat. This dance step is so named because the performer walks like a magpie, generally in zigzag fashion.
Seoljanggunori is a performing art that maximizes the showiness of nongak (farmers’ music). Unlike other janggu acts performed with other instruments, seoljanggunori is tailored for individual play, with a wellstructured combination of rhythm patterns and dance moves. As such, it is counted among the highlights of pangut, which brings together all the different types of performances in nongak. As indicated by its arrangement as the final act of pangut to capture the attention of the audience, seoljanggunori is considered a special performance. It has also been rearranged and expanded to create many different versions.