Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Free lecture on "traditional" "Korean" fusion music, April 13.

The University of Pittsburgh Department of Music presents a lecture by R. Anderson Sutton "on Fusion Music and Contemporary Korean Cultural Identity". An excerpt from the abstract:
The notion of cultural purity is demonstrably a myth, as any careful historical analysis of cultural expression anywhere in the world can reveal multiple origins, blends, syncretisms, hybridities that are the inevitable result of human contact. Yet in Korea, as in many countries around the globe, some forms of cultural expression have come to be recognized as “pure” or “authentic” indigenous forms, often celebrated in official discourse as invaluable assets, to be nurtured and preserved against the perceived onslaught of foreign mixture and “pollution.” Korean official discourse on the arts and government-supported cultural policy in Korea has strongly favored the forms with the least evident influence from other countries and cultures, but the vast majority of Korean people today and in the recent past have felt remarkably little appreciation for many of these forms. While most would not deny that these forms are indeed part of their cultural heritage as Koreans and are clearly and unambiguously identifiable as “Korean arts,” they also feel culturally “estranged” from them. That they enjoy other forms of music in almost all contexts presents us with a challenge as we try to come to terms with Korean notions of identity and music. Korean fusion music, a broad and somewhat controversial category of diverse musical practices, all of which involve at least some perceivable cultural mix between unambiguously Korean elements and other elements with foreign origins that are readily apparent, is becoming an increasingly important response to the unsettled cultural terrain on which musicians find themselves in contemporary Korea. This paper considers examples of Korean fusion music, both mainstream and marginal, in an attempt to illuminate aspects of contemporary Korean cultural identity and its discourses in music.
These discussions on "pure" Korean---and "pure" anything, really---are not new among people who pay attention to contemporary South Korean culture, but it's nonetheless nice to see the discussion happening close to home, too. The lecture is free and will be held on April 13, 4:00 pm, in room 132 of the University of Pittsburgh Music Building.