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DaDeRimGil (2003)

for six percussion players

DaDeRimGil by the Korean composer Seung-Ah Oh is based on an ancient Korean ironing practice. Long before the modern Iron was invented it was common for Korean women to 'iron' the washed and dried clothes by beating them continuously on a large piece of granite - the so-called DaDemEeDol. This practice belonged to the daily ritual of many a Korean housewife. Two women would sit opposite each other on the ground and to make the tiring job somewhat enjoyable would take turns at hitting the cloth into shape, closely linking up their beats. Often these sessions would end in a form of free improvisation.

Some say this ritual was a circuitous way for these harnessed women to vent some of their pent-up aggression. Traditional Korean society exacted high demands on its' citizens, the main one of which was the demand for the individual's total subordination to that of the collective. This conflict between the individual's will and the collective's demands was one of the main points of departure in the composition of DaDeRimGil. Musically this conflict is translated into a continuous phasing (irregular deviations from a basic pulse) between the group as a whole and DaDemEeDol players in particular. A principle was then extended to the structure of the composition in its' entirety. The score consists mainly of alternations between homogenous passages - characterized by collective playing and rigorous rhythmic blocks - and heterogeneous ones, in which diverse colorings and individual action is predominant.

The sound of DaDeRimGil is determined to a very high degree by a homogenic nucleus of closely related wood sounds - among which the DaDemEeDol - and passages in which the Chinese Tom (as substitute for the Korean Bu'k) dominates. The Toms are played with claves, both on the skin as well as on the side. The overall sound is one of surprising continuity, in which the common properties of stone, wood and skin seem to blend into each other seamlessly. The ensemble itself is paired evenly in a semi-circle around the DaDemEeDol, played by the two central players. The ritualistic character of DaDeRimGil is further emphasized by the use of the Pa'k, an old Korean clapper consisting of 6 pieces of hard wood or ivory, which are struck together in a semicircular motion. Originally used in traditional Korean court music as a point of navigation for the musicians, the Pa'k fulfills a similar - but freer - function in DaDeRimGil, where it is not only used at the beginning and end of the piece (once for the beginning and three times for the end) but also to demarcate its' internal sections. (By Peter Adriaansz, The Artistic Director of Percussion Group The Hague)