A female drummer in Korea - Busy with the traditional Buk - Image by wwian

A female drummer in Korea - Busy with the traditional Buk - Image by wwian


Buk, Janggu and Galgo; these are the names of the traditional drums from Korea. These musical instruments are ancient and have cultural significance in the Korean heritage. Their usage was long established in the courts and percussion performances. With the passage of time, the musicians brought many variations in their sizes and shapes and so some new types of the traditional drums were also emerged.

A female drummer in Korea - Busy with the traditional Buk - Image by wwian
A female drummer in Korea – Busy with the traditional Buk – Image by wwian

Buk is a shallow barrel-shaped drum, with a round wooden body that is covered on both ends with animal skin. It has been used with two sticks to produce different sounds in the traditional music of Korea for centuries. Some times Buk was also beaten by the drummer on the right side by a stick and on the other side with bare hand. The sticks used to hit the drum are called bukchae. These sticks are normally made with wood and are rounded at the edges. Long pieces of cloth are tied to the player and the drum so that the buk becomes portable and suitable for dance.

They are beating Janggu and Galgo altogether - Traditional Korean Drums - Image by Danielle Harms
They are beating Janggu and Galgo altogether – Traditional Korean Drums – Image by Danielle Harms

The hourglass-shaped Janggu is somehow the modern shape of the ancient yogo (a waist drum) that was introduced by the Indians in this region centuries ago. Its body consists of two heads made with animal skin and is mainly made with poplar and paulownia woods. The drummers normally hit Janggu withtwo kinds of sticks, namely gungchae and yeolchae. The gungchae is shaped like a mallet with a round head. The handle is made from bamboo root, boiled and straightened out and the head is made from hardwood such as birch or antler.These days many folk demosntrations in Korea are performed with the melodious beats of Galgo which is almost similar to Janggu. The drummer uses thinner drum skins and is struck with two bamboo sticks called chae.


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