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Female Participation in South Korean Traditional Music: Late Chosŏn to the Present Day

Mueller, Ruth H (2013) Female Participation in South Korean Traditional Music: Late Chosŏn to the Present Day. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

While individual aspects of gender in South Korean traditional music have been previously explored, a general examination of the subject has yet to be undertaken. Through the analysis of fieldwork and previous research, this thesis looks at the gender shift of musicians from predominantly male in the last dynasty to predominantly female today. This shift is considered in relation to the changing function of traditional music from popular entertainment to cultural preservation during Korea’s rapid modernisation process. My fieldwork includes interviews with performers, students, teachers and scholars of traditional music, lessons on stringed, percussion and wind instruments and the observation of concerts and rehearsals in various genres of traditional music. Through this fieldwork, several gender issues became evident. While the majority of traditional musicians are presently female, a significant number of men participate in ritual and aristocratic music and on wind or percussion instruments. Women, on the other hand, greatly outnumber men in newly-created national music, in fusion music, vocal music and on stringed instruments, particularly the kayagŭm and haegŭm. While a larger gender issue concerning the role of women in preservation can be seen in the greater numbers of women in traditional music, this division within traditional music society reflects the historic split between the male upper-class scholar and the female kisaeng artist. The associations between women and the body, nature and the artist exist in contrast to those linking men with the mind, power over nature and the scholar. The consequences of these associations can be seen in the early acceptance of women as singers and dancers with male accompaniment across classes. While the role of traditional music in society has changed through the events of the past century, many aspects of traditional culture can still be seen within Korean musical society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Music (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.589198
Depositing User: Ruth H Mueller
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2013 12:02
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 11:03
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4775

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