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Gagok is a traditional Korean lyric song cycle accompanied by chamber orchestra. The ensemble Jeong Ga Ak Hoe consists of komungo, gayaguem, daeguem, piri, haegeum, dansa and changgo and performs both traditional and newly composed works. This recording is a new composition based on ancient traditional modes, with singer Kim YoonSeo joining the ensemble.

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Gagok is a genre of traditional Korean vocal music sung in most of the regions of South Korea which gained recognition in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Man by UNESCO.

Gagok is the most the most venerated genre of vocal music in the Jeongak (Korean court music) tradition. Gagok evolved from the lyric songs of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), and was continuously developed and refined, reaching its present form during the late Joseon Dynasty when the eminent court singers Pak Hyogwan and An Minyeong, published a song collection called The Main Stream of Gagok  (Gagok Wollyu) in 1876. Today there are forty-one songs in the Gagok repertoire, known in Korean under the collective title Mannyon changhwanjigok (Song of Ten-Thousand-Year Joy). No other traditional Korean vocal music can compare with Gagok for beauty of form, variety of accompanying instrumentation, and range of expressiveness.

Mannyon changhwanjigok gagok

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Historically, Korean music has developed through frequent exchanges with neighboring nations; yet, it has preserved and developed a number of features that are unique. First, a leisurely tempo is a general feature of Korean music. In particular, most of the music that makes up the genre known as Chong-ak has a slow tempo. The Korean musical some pieces can last as long as three seconds. Such a slow tempo gives pieces a distinctly calm, meditative character. The leisurely pace of some Korean music is due to the importance placed on breathing, with each beat being matched to the player’s inhalation and exhalation. In this respect, Korean music differs markedly from Western music in which the beats occur at a tempo similar to the beating of the heart.

seoul palaces and jongmyo shrine


Gagok categorized as jeongga which is only performed by the nobility during the Joseon Dynasty. Jeong Ga Ak Hoe, together with singer Kim YoonSeo have created a fitting tribute to the timeless beauty and expressive power of Korean traditional music. The music that accompanies the singing Gagok played on brass instruments and stringed by musicians who sit in the back of the singer.

seoul palaces and jongmyo shrine

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Nowadays, artists who inherited the singing skills Gagok not much. South Korean society were many who did not know this art, but Gagok is Korea’s first musical works nominated Grammy Award . Gagok preservation of traditional music performed by the organization National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts in Seoul and various music schools in the regions. Three senior singer who left Gagok is Kim Gyeong-bae, Kim Yeong-gi, and Cho Sun-ja.

Jongmyo seoul palaces and jongmyo shrine


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