Dynamic Korea and Rhythmic Form: Samul Nori's Global Circulations


Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 7:00pm


Online Event (Zoom)

Music Abroad Seminar Series; sponsored by the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University and co-sponsored by the Korea Institute

Katherine In-Young Lee
Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music

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In this lecture, Katherine In-Young Lee discusses research from her recently published book, Dynamic Korea and Rhythmic Form (Wesleyan University Press 2018). Dynamic Korea explores how the percussion genre known as samul nori—created in 1978 in South Korea—came to be a global music genre. In many ways, samul nori can be viewed as one of South Korea’s first successful cultural exports, traveling well before the advent of K-pop. Based on both ethnographic research and close formal analysis, this lecture gives attention to the kinetic experience of samul nori, drawing out the concept of dynamism to show its historical, philosophical, and pedagogical dimensions. In tandem with this analysis she will highlight one of the case studies in her book—a Korean percussion ensemble based in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. This community ensemble has included Korean adoptees and their adoptive American families, recent Korean immigrants, Korean Americans, and non-Koreans since its founding in 2004.

Katherine In-Young Lee is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Her research interests include East Asia, Korean music and culture, music and politics, sound studies, ethnography, historiography, transnational adoption, and global circulations of form. She studied at the University of Michigan (B.M./B.M.), the University of Washington (M.A.), and Harvard University (Ph.D.). Her book, Dynamic Korea and Rhythmic Form (Wesleyan University Press 2018), explores how a percussion genre from South Korea (samul nori) became a global music genre. More broadly, she contends that rhythm-based forms serve as a critical site for cross-cultural musical encounters. Dynamic Korea and Rhythmic Form was recently recognized with the 2019 Béla Bartók Award for Outstanding Ethnomusicology from the ASCAP Foundation (Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards). Lee’s research on the role of music at scenes of protest during South Korea’s democratization movement was awarded the Charles Seeger Prize by the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Martin Hatch Award by the Society for Asian Music. Previously, she taught as an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Davis (2012-17).