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Haeguem is a Korean traditional instrument that most closely resembles the human voice and is known for its intense sound. I was never a fan of the haegeum. I thought the sound was too exaggerated, until four years ago, when I performed with haeguem master Sooyeon Lyuh. Through many collaborations with her, I discovered the most delicate sounds and endless possibilities with haeguem.
With only two strings, the haegeum produces a wide range of dynamics, pitch, and mood. Nothing can beat the intensity and versatility of these two strings, made of thick woven silk thread. This piece is a tribute to those two strings. The perfect fifth interval (the tuning of the two strings) and 'string crossings (western string technique)' are the main motives of this piece. The inner string, usually less used due to its softer volume, gets more spotlight here. I wanted to bring out the quiet, intrinsic beauty of the inner string as much as the exterior power of the outer string. The mixed ensemble plays a clear role, accentuating ornamentation or doubling resonance. The percussion is always an interruption, an extension of the usual cadential gesture that the drums play in Korean vocal music.
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