Introduction: Korean Traditional Music on Global Stages

Jan Creutzenberg, Anna Yates-Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article introduces the theme of this edited issue—live performances of traditional Korean music (kugak) outside of Korea, mainly in the 'Western ' world; it lays out reasons for its relevance and shares issues and questions. The six articles are part of an ongoing exploration of what happens when music that is highly specific and has an identity relating to a certain place is performed away from its geographic origin. The authors discuss various genres, from solo singing/storytelling (p 'ansori) and folk songs (minyo) to instrumental music (such as sanjo improvisation) and ensemble genres, as used by professional and amateur musicians in Europe, the United States, and other parts of the world. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and historical research, the articles demonstrate the diversity of what traditional music means to those who make, promote, and listen to it, crucially, in this case, including the Korean overseas diaspora. The authors share a consciousness of power dynamics that are at play when traditional music from a postcolonial nation is performed on 'global stages, ' that is, in contexts dominated by Western hegemony. By responding to debates regarding nationalism and globalization, identity and community formation, as well as authenticity and cultural appropriation, the articles hopefully may serve as a touchstone for engagement with additional genres and regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-21
Number of pages17
JournalWorld of Music
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

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