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Korean Traditional Music of the Early 20th Century -A Commodity Aesthetics Approach-

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2011, (48), pp.141-168
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities

Sanghwan Bak 1 홍희주 1

1성균관대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

The present study examines the cultural value of the traditional music as it is created and distributed as a commercial product in the early 20th century. From a commodity aesthetics standpoint, the study analyzes the impact of the theater, the record industry, and broadcasting media on popularization of the early 20th century traditional music in modern Korean history. By doing so, the present study seeks to identify the social communication and change in perception of traditional music from a commodity aesthetics standpoint. During the 17th to 18th century, as Seoul evolved into an industrial city, its inhabitants began to enjoy music with worldly entertainment. At this period of time, music was divided into that which was preferred by the high class and that of the common class. As the 19th century opened, however, the music culture expanded to the masses, and the emergence of the theater and Hyeop Ryul Sa the around 1900 century strengthened the popularization of traditional culture and the performance culture of the traditional art form. The development of the record and radio as mass media in the early 20th century rooted traditional music as popular music genre. In addition, music enjoyed only within the realm of respective classes were pervading to the masses through the means of record industry. By 1930, the boundary that had separated high art from low art was blurred with the spread of the gramophone. Music became available anywhere to anyone. Traditional music covered the majority of recorded music in the early 20th century, which explains the musical taste of the masses that brought about profit for the capitalistic product. Radio broadcast, which took off with the establishment of Kyungseong Broadcasting Station in 1927, became a national medium. The limitation of accessibility of imperial and traditional music disappeared with radio broadcast. Such phenomenon may be defined as a creation of a tradition and modern transformation. The prevalence of traditional music in the theater and radio broadcast in the early 20th century shows that the theater, record and broadcast industry of the time adopt edit as ‘capitalistic commodity culture’ due to its commercial value. The ‘sign value’ and ‘aestheticity’ of traditional music was adopted to make consumption of such modern medium easily accessible for consumers. The past and present in modernization process is confronted along with interpretation of tradition, and perspectives on cultural essentialism and cultural change is easily found within traditional discourse. The development of high quality cultural content that is founded on tradition is accomplished by reinterpretation of culture. Reinterpretation of culture calls for aesthetic correspondence that is appropriate to the particular period of time.

Citation status

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