Developed as a solo instrumental performance during the final days (around 1890) of the traditional music of the Chosŏn dynasty, kayagŭm sanjo is a genre that shares many similarities with p’ansori (a form of music that combines vocals and percussion performed by a singer [sori kkun] and drummer [kosu] respectively) in terms of its musical idiom, and particularly in terms of its melodic structure, rhythm (changdan), and musicality (sŏngŭm). While kayagŭm sanjo were generally learned entirely by heart and transmitted orally for two generations, in the modern era they have increasingly been taught based on staff notations. The standardization of rhythm (changdan) has been regarded as the most important element in terms of the musical framework of sanjo (lit. scattered melody). In this regard, this article seeks to identify the musical framework of sanjo. The majority of chinyangjo (lit. slow-style melodies or rhythms, one of the various types of changdan) employed within the school of kayagŭm sanjo developed by Kim Ch’angjo, the individual widely regarded as the creator of kayagŭm sanjo, consist of four modes: ujo, tolchang, p’yŏngjo, and kyemyŏnjo. As the melody found at the beginning and end of the individual sections of these modes and the structure of the melodic progression found in each section exhibit certain commonalities in terms of their melodic type, many have concluded that a standardized musical framework already exists where the kayagŭm sanjo is concerned. Based on this reality, this article begins by analyzing existing studies related to kayagŭm sanjo from the standpoint of their musical frameworks, and then applies the results of this analysis to kŏmun’go sanjo in order to be able to conduct a comparison of the commonalities and differences that exist in terms of the musical frameworks of kayagŭm sanjo and kŏmun’go sanjo. This exercise in turn reveals that while kŏmun’go sanjo consist of the same four modes (ujo, tolchang, p’yŏngjo, and kyemyŏnjo) as those found in kayagŭm sanjo, minute differences can nevertheless be found between the two in terms of the composition of their individual sections. Briefly stated, while the ujo mode of kayagŭm sanjo consists of three sections, the ujo mode of kŏmun’go sanjo consists solely of one section. That being said, the melodic development method, which is generally performed a perfect fifth above in the case of kŏmun’go sanjo, is in fact very similar to the musical framework of kayagŭm sanjo. Moreover, while the progression of the tolchang mode that serves as a bridge from the ujo mode in kayagŭm sanjo is performed a major second below much like in kŏmun’go sanjo, the latter features a smaller number of tones and, therefore, does not have a long cadence. Much like kŏmun’go sanjo, the p’yŏngjo mode of kayagŭm sanjo opens with a melody performed a major sixth above. However, the melodic flow of kŏmun’go sanjo has more in common with the tolchang mode of kayagŭm sanjo than with the p’yŏngjo mode. Meanwhile, the kyemyŏnjo mode tends to exhibit significant variations across the numerous schools of kayagŭm sanjo. While the kyemyŏnjo mode of kŏmun’go sanjo exhibits frequent changes in basic tone, the kyemyŏnjo mode of kayagŭm sanjo consists of melodies which progress differently throughout their various subsections, namely p’yŏng kyemyŏn, pyŏn kyemyŏn, sŏkhwaje, and saeng samch’ŏng.


melodic framework, ujo, tolchang, p’yŏngjo, kyemyŏnjo


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  3. [book] Chang Sahun / 1984 / Kugak tae sajŏn (Encyclopedia of Korean traditional music) / Segwang Music Publishing Co.

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  7. [thesis] Kim Sanghun / 2002 / Ajaeng sanjo ŭi yup’a pyŏl sŏnyul pigyo punsŏk (A somparative analysis of the melodic structure of the variants of ajaeng sanjo)

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  9. [book] Kim Haesuk / 1999 / Sanjo akpo chip I (Musical transcriptions and totations, collection of sanjo notations I) / The Korean National University of Arts

  10. [book] Kim Haesuk / 1993 / Yusŏnggi ŭmban e nat’anan kayagŭm sanjo ŭi t’ŭl—Kim Haesŏn ŭi ŭmban yŏnju rŭl chungsim ŭro (The framework of kayagŭm sanjo as exhibited through phonographic records—With a special focus on the recordings of performances by Kim Haesŏn) / Korean Musicology Research Institute

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  18. [book] Yi Chaesuk / 1969 / Kayagŭm sanjo ŭi t’ŭl e kwanhan sogo (Analysis of the framework of kayagŭm sanjo). Yi Hyegu paksa songsu kinyŏm ŭmakhak nonch’ong (A collection of essays on musicology to commemorate the sixtieth birthday of Yi Hyegu) / Korean Musicological Society

  19. [thesis] Yu Hyŏngsŏn / 2004 / Sanjo ŭi tajungsŏnbŏp e kwanhan yŏn’gu (The polymodality of sanjo)