Music in Korea is one of several case-study volumes that can be used along with Thinking Musically, the core book in the Global Music Series. Thinking Musically incorporates music from many diverse cultures and establishes the framework for exploring the practice of music around the world. It sets the stage for an array of case-study volumes, each of which focuses on a single area of the world. Each case study uses the contemporary musical situation as a point of departure, covering historical information and traditions as they relate to the present.
Despite its longstanding position as a distinct cultural force in East Asia, Korea continues to be underrepresented in world music texts. Music in Korea is the first brief, single-volume text to provide a thematic, succinct introduction to the music of Korea—a region whose volatile political climate has often overshadowed its rich cultural and musical traditions.
Based on author Donna Lee Kwon’s extensive fieldwork, the text features interviews with performers, eyewitness accounts of performances, and vivid illustrations. Kwon uses three themes—Korea as a transnational player in East Asia, the intersection of Korean music and cultural politics, and Korea’s maintenance of its strong cultural identity through both musical and aesthetic continuity—to survey the region and draw parallels and contrasts between its various traditions. Each theme lends itself to a discussion of Korea’s classical musical customs and its contemporary developments. Packaged with an 80-minute audio CD containing musical examples, the text features numerous listening activities that engage students with the music.