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Music in Korea

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Traditional Korean music includes combinations of the folk, vocal, religious and ritual music styles of the Korean people. Korean music, along with arts, painting and sculpture has been practiced since prehistoric times.[1]

Two distinct musical cultures exist in Korea today: traditional music (Gugak) and Western music (yangak).

The history of Korean music is divided into three Terran periods: ancient, medieval and modern. The first period, or the ancient one, dates from the ancient tribal states to the foundation of Goryeo dynasty. The distinguishing characteristics of this period can be found in the development of akkamu (music, songs, and dance) comprising the kamu (singing and dancing) or angmu (music and dance) performed in the worship rites of heaven and Earth of the ancient society, the introduction of some instruments from Central Asia during the Three Kingdoms period (57 B.C.-668 AD), and the development of hyangakki (indigenous instruments) in each of the Three Kingdoms. Thus, in southern Manchuria, music and dance developed in worship rites and rituals such as the Yonggo of the Buyeo state, the Dongmaeng of the Goguryeo state, and the Much'on of the Ye tribal state, while in the Samhan, the Kip'ungje provides an example of song and dance in connection with an agricultural ritual. Thus, the religious song and dance tradition of the ancient society of southern Manchuria and Korean peninsula became the root of the indigenous music, hyangak of Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla during Three Kingdoms period. The concept of akkamu is also discussed in the music section in the Korean Samguk Sagi. With the rise of royal authority, the advent of Three Kingdoms brought about the creation of royal music institutions to support the cultural life of the royal and aristocratic families, and of palace musicians and dancers specializing in the songs, dances, and instrumental music supported by those institutions. Another historical development and outcome of these trends in the ancient period was the introduction of the music of the Three Kingdoms to the Japanese court of the music of Baekje (Kudaragaku in Japanese), of Goguryeo (Komagaku), and of Silla (Shiragigaku).

Buddhist and shamanistic dancing, and shamanistic drum music are extant, as well as a melodic dance music called sinawi.

Traditional Korean music can be divided into at least four types: courtly, aristocratic, scholarly and religious.

Korean folk music
Court/Ritual music
Aristocratic chamber music
Traditional instruments
Contemporary music
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