Selection of Korean classical music, performed by the Orchestra National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts. Cast your mind back to the 15th century. That is, of course, difficult if not impossible to do, but the major piece recorded on these CDs, Yomillak, 'Giving the People Joy', provides something of a sonic reference point: it was first performed in 1447. Y'millak is the most extended piece of orchestral court music surviving in Korea, and it has for many centuries been used for royal processions and at banquets. A performance today in many ways looks like one of old, with the musicians dressed in red cloaks (red is the royal colour) with elaborate embroidered squares of cloth denoting rank stitched to their backs. The musicians are virtually motionless, and respond to signals given by a senior official who strikes the pak wooden clappers at the beginnings and ends of sections.
Barely discernable slow and regularly repeating rhythmic cycles form a structural baseline, marked out by formulaic strikes on two drums (the hourglass-shaped changgo and the barrel-shaped chwago), but the effect is of timelessness, the movements flowing seamlessly into each other. The music is totally controlled, the epitome of Confucian order and decorum