“Daechwita, Daechwita, play it loud, Daechwita!”
Any K-pop or BTS fan will have heard of this! It is the lyrics of “Daechwita” released this last May by Suga, a member of BTS, under the name of August D. The song’s title “Daechwita” is originally traditional Korean music that was played during the Joseon period when the king would take a walk, and August D’s Daechwita is a pop song reinterpreted in modern hip hop to capture the hearts of fans in Korea and around the world with a catchy chorus.
As August D’s Daechwita music video hit 10 million views in just 8 hours after being released, many people started wondering about the Korean music Daechwita. Let’s talk about what kind of music Daechwita is and why it is appealing.
Daechwita is music played for the king’s walk or official procession. It was also played for not only the king but also public officials when they came to their newly appointed jurisdiction and for generals when they appeared for their public duties.
There is a special line in the official marching song Daechwita, indicating its start and end.
“Now, one hit, Daechwita (鳴金一下大吹打)!”
It means “Let’s hit jing once and begin”, and is literally a line announcing Daechwita’s start. August D’s Daechwita also has this line before the song begins. The person who shouts this line serves as a conductor in Daechwita, and is called “jibsa”. In contrast, the jibsa shouts “heonhwageum” or “heolageum” when Daechwita ends.
As a song played for marching, Daechwita gives a grandiose, majestic, and cheerful mood. What kinds of instruments are used to give such a unique mood? You can find the answer in the word Daechwita.
“Chwi” in Daechwita means blow, and “ta” means hit. Daechwita is played by wind instruments (blow) and percussion instruments (hit). Let’s find out what role each instrument plays to create a cheerful mood, shall we?
“Wind instruments” used in Daechwita – Nagak, nabal, and taepyeongso
Doesn’t nagak look familiar? Nagak is an instrument made by taking out flesh from a large turban shell and grinding the sharp tip of the shell. It is characterized by powerful, low, soft tones like a foghorn. As it produces just one note without change in intervals, it gives a heavy mood.
Nabal is a 120-cm-long instrument. It is notable that the performer plays it with just the right hand. Nabal cannot play a melody, but it can produce a few notes as you can control its length.
Usually in Daechwita, nagak and nabal take turns producing single notes. There is an instrument that plays powerful sounds without change in tone, uses various notes, and boats a refreshing tone. This is taepyeongso, which boasts a high melody. It is the only instrument that plays a melody in Daechwita, and it is loved today due to its exciting tone. Taepyeongso gives cheerfulness amid a heavy atmosphere.
Percussion instruments used in Daechwita - Jing, yonggo, and jabara
Jing is a percussion instrument played by ringing its brass body. If you hit it once, its ringing is long and deep. Yonggo is a drum used for marching music including Daechwita. Its drum frame has a dragon painting. The performer hangs yonggo around the neck to hang down to the belly, holds two drumsticks with both hands, and hits it with the drumsticks from the top down. Jabara is a percussion instrument consisting of two bronze round plates. Let’s look at how these three percussion instruments are played in Daechwita.
“Now, one hit, Daechwita (鳴金一下大吹打)!” Jing is hit once after the above line, yonggo is hit three times, and Daechwita then starts. The percussion instruments signal the start of Daechwita.
Jing, yonggo, and jabara keep rhythm in the music. As jing’s sound is sustained for a long time, it broadly maintains the meter. Yonggo and jabara keep detailed meter in a song. Due to the percussion instruments, each of which plays its own role, Daechwita can be played more softly without losing its unique meter.
Daechwita spreading across Incheon Airport: ‘Walk of the Royal Family’
Daechwita—does it seem like you can only see it in a concert? You can also watch Daechwita in Incheon Airport, which takes care of the start and end of your travel in Korea.
Incheon Airport has performed the “Walk of the Royal Family”, an event which reenacts a walk of the royal family. In this event, you can see the king and queen walk with their people. Then, majestic and cheerful music is played as the king takes a walk in the airport. Majestic and cheerful music for the king’s walk? Can you guess what it is? That is Daechwita!
Since Daechwita was played when the king took a walk, Daechwita is also played during the Walk of the Royal Family in Incheon Airport. Isn’t it amazing that you can hear traditional Korean music, which has influenced K-pop, in Incheon Airport?
Simply watching it is not the end! This event has a photo time where you can take a photo with the performers wearing royal clothing and accessories. Although it is now suspended due to COVID-19, we hope to see a walk of the king again soon in the airport. Then you will be able to hear Daechwita once again.
- Place: 3F, Duty-Free Zone, Terminal 1 (between West and East Halls of Korean Traditional Culture Experience Center)
- Time: (1st) 11:20-12:00 / (2nd) 13:00-13:40 / (3rd) 15:00-15:40
* Performance times may be subject to change depending on the airport’s situation.
We have so far talked about Korea’s traditional music Daechwita. What is it like? Incheon Airport will be there with culture so that cheerful Daechwita can be played for your travel. J