Korean drumming is a significant performance type that demonstrates a variety of Korean American identities. Korean drumming is a synthetized concept that includes p'ungmul, a traditional percussion genre, and its newly modified and invented form, samullori (also known as samulnori). Korean percussion ensembles in the United States are shaped by cultural policy in South Korea and by professional musicians who migrate to the United States, both of which are elements of the continuous bilateral exchange between the home and host countries. The means by which Korean drumming is learned and taught has extended beyond traditional oral transmission to include the involvement of digital media such as performance recordings found on YouTube. In this article, I examine the ways in which Korean Americans perform contrasting ideas of traditional versus modern, old versus new, Korea versus United States—ideas that are in constant flux. The history of Korean drumming in the United States is characterized by continuous transnational circulation of Korean performance genres and their adaptation in the host society. Analyzing ideas about authenticity and innovation embedded in the various Korean percussion performance styles in the United States, I reveal the negotiable, flexible, and complex constitution of cultural identities of Korean Americans through their drumming.


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pp. 62-88
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