click the play button to begin the piece (length 5:20)
Translated excerpts of an in-depth analysis written by Professor Emeritus Usoc Surh of the Seoul National University College of Music entitled Discourse Analysis of ChungSung-Gok is also available as a Word (.doc) file. (The original Korean text is also available.)
Cheongsonggok or cheongseongjajinhanip, a solo piece for daegeum (large transverse bamboo flute) or danso (small notched bamboo vertical flute), originated from the variations of the vocal melody of Taepyeongga, one of the most popular repertories of the classical lyric song genre, Gaggok. This piece is called Cheongseonggok (the song of the clear, high sound) because of the clear timbre generated by the daegeum sound in the high register. In addition to the finger holes, the daegum has a hole called cheonggong on which a membrane is attached, and when a performer pushes the high tessitura the shaking membrane makes a buzzing sound. The vibration of the membrane, collected from a river reed, produces a unique sound called cheongsori, prominent in the high register of the instrument. Throughout the song there are contrasting phrases between long sustained notes and clusters of grace notes that accentuate the clear, tonal quality of the bamboo flute.
The melody of Cheongsonggok is characterized in the typical gyemyeonjo mode, one of the two major modal collections of the Korean classical music, the other being ujo. The five note pattern of the gyemyeonjo mode is presented below in two forms: 1) B-flat, C, E-flat, F and A-flat, and 2) E-flat, F, A-flat, B-flat and D-flat. The second form is an exact transposition of the first up a perfect fourth. In these two forms the A-flat functions as the modal center, an anchor pitch connecting the two collections, each of which emphasizes melodies in two different registers. In the first form, B-flat, E-flat and A-flat are the primary notes usually performed with a long sustained sound, and the C and F are the secondary notes usually used as melodic ornamentation supporting the primary notes. In contrast the second form, E-flat, A-flat, B-flat and D-flat (sometimes performed as either C or E-flat) are the primary notes and the F is the secondary note. Here B-flat is performed with intense downward vibrato and its intonation is half way between B-flat and B-half flat, eventually resolving into A-flat.