Muak, or more fully Musok Eumak, is traditional Korean shaman music performed at the place of the shaman ritual, the Gut.
It consists of singing, dancing and percussion music. The modern Muak ensemble has 4 performers, who belong to the Donghaean Byeolsin Gut troupe, and represent a Gut (shaman ritual) from the Donghaean region of Korea.
The current musical director, Kim Yong-taek, holds the title of an ‘ important intangible cultural asset’ for the Donghaean Byeolsin Gut. Another prominent member is Kim Jeong-Hee who is a percussionist in Korea. The ensemble is completed by two performers of the younger generation: Jo Jung-Hun and Park Beom-Tae.
The performers and their instruments:
- Kim Yong-taek (Director) - Janggu, Vocal
- Kim Jeong-hee (Assistant Director) - 1st Kkwaenggwari Vocal
- Jo Jong-hun - 2nd Kkwaenggwari
- Park Beom-tae – Jing & Taepyeongso
The traditional Korean shaman ritual - the Gut - is always in harmony with singing, dancing and performing music. It is not performed solely for spiritual rites, but also allows experiencing the archetype of traditional Korean music.
The Shaman priests, acting as intercessors between the spiritual world and human beings, inherit the right to perform the shaman rituals through bloodline. They study the rites and traditions from their parents by attending the rituals since their childhood. The important elements of the ritual, as well as technical and artistic skills, are handed down from generation to generation and have not been altered. Traditionally, the Gut shaman ritual has been performed by a priest, however today it is hardly performed for spiritual purposes anymore, but instead as a cultural asset of the arts on stage.
While Samul Nori is the frontier in introducing traditional Korean music to the world, Muak is a real and ancestral treasure waiting to be discovered by the world.
The rhythmic patterns of Muak have changed little in the last 500 years and remain close to their original ancestral form. Blending this with various improvisations of rhythm allows audiences an insight into mystic contemporary music in Korea. Today, there are still famous shaman priests in Korea who evoke our human creative instinct with their performances.