Sanjo II [2010/11]
Opus number: EH.7b
For: Contrabass solo / Cello solo
Published by Simon Verlag in Berlin, Germany 2011
First performance: Hyosun Lee
Daegu International Contemporary Music Festival in Daegu,
South Korea 2011
Duration: ca. 9 min.
Discography: Requiem Records/DUX
Sanjo, literally meaning “scattered melodies”, is a style of traditional Korean music involving an instrumental solo accompanied by drumming on the “Janggu”, an hourglass-shaped drum. The art of Sanjo is a formation of traditional Korean melody and rhythm that may have been handed down by rote over many generations.
Sanjo’s developments are believed to have begun around 1890 by Kim Chang-jo (1865-1920) for the Korean traditional instrument “Gayageum”. Thereafter, it was expanded to other traditional Korean instruments, including the “Geomungo” and Korean flutes “Daegeum.” Unlike his predecessors, Eunho Chang’s “Sanjo Series” consists of instrumental solo pieces without the use of a “Janggu”, a double-headed Korean drum with a narrow waist in the middle.
Sanjo series consists of 10 instrumental solo pieces. The first cycle, No. 1 to 5 (1st. Violin, 2nd. Contrabass or Cello, 3rd. Flute, 4th. Soprano, 5th. and Organ), is already completed. The second cycle, Nos. 6 to 10, is in the process of completion.
Each piece in Sanjo series has its own specific theme, but on a larger scale, the work has an overall blend of elements that bind each movement together creating a close unity among the ten pieces and two cycles.
Pieces nos. 1- 4 and 6-9 are connected through ‘linear’ expression of Korean painting, music technique, and the sound patterns of Korean traditional instruments with a Western instrumental music technique. However, pieces no. 5 and 10 use a different kind expression not seen in the other 8 pieces by focusing on colorful harmony.
Korean aesthetics of the line
Korean aesthetics of the line created a new branch of oriental painting developed in Korea. Prior to 1971, Korean painting did not have its own identity. It was only referred to as “oriental painting.” Traditional Korean artist Kim Yeong-gi argued in his essay My Argument, Criticism, and Explanation of Korean Painting to use the new identity, “Korean painting.” The Korea Arts & Culture Education Service officially started using it in 1982.
In Korean painting, pictures are drawn on paper or silk with a soft paintbrush dipped in ink or water-soluble pigments. Based on artistic perspectives that stem from the Eastern values and the view of nature, Korean painting has developed uniquely while selectively accepting some elements from traditional Chinese painting. Among various kinds of Korean painting are ink-and-wash painting, light-colored painting, and colored painting. In Eunho Chang’s works, Ink-and-wash painting is the drawing technique that serves as inspiration for his compositional style.
In ink-and-wash painting, subjects such as nature or objects are illustrated with the sole means of varied ink concentration. Each painting of a subject gives different impressions to appreciators according to the shades of the ink and changes of lines that the painter employs. In Sanjo series, Chang’s melodic structure, which fluctuates in consistency and shading, aims to recreate the lines observed in Korean painting.
We can see these characteristics in a variety of ways through Chang’s instrumentation and the technical demands placed on various instruments. In the wind instrument’s, a variety of air blowing, lip glissandi and microtonal techniques are ways in which Chang brings out the shading of line. In the string instruments, harmonics, normal tones, and bowing techniques (including Sul ponticello and ordinario) are employed to show the contrast between thick and thin lines. In addition, the strings use of glissando, microtones, and ornaments further the Korean Aesthetic of Art.