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Scenery of Moments in Life:
Hangeul Lyrics from Cheongguyeongeon
Special Exhibition Hall
Scenery of Moments in Life: Hangeul Lyrics from Cheongguyeongeon, Sep.28,2017 - Aug.3,2017
  • Scenery of Moments in Life:
    Hangeul Lyrics from Cheongguyeongeon
  • Period
    Apr.28,2017 - Sep.3,2017
  • Location
    Special Exhibition Hall (3F)
  • Composition
    Singing Moments in Life
    Collecting Songs of the World and Transmitting

Cheongguyeongeon by Kim Cheon-taek (?-?) is the oldest existing book of Gagok lyrics in Hangeul. Gagok is a type of songs enjoyed by sadaebu, the government officials of higher rankings, during the Joseon dynasty. Cheongguyeongeon contains the Hangeul lyrics of 580 traditional Gagok songs still present today. Kim Cheon-taek intented to preserve and inherit orally transmitted songs by recording them into a book. He collected song lyrics from the end of Goryeo period to 1728 when Cheongguyeongeon was compiled, and organized them into one book.

This exhibition presents the original Cheongguyeongeon for the first time and is the first attempt to display traditional Gagok song lyrics. The original copy of Kim Cheon-taek’s Cheongguyeongeon published by Joseon-jinseo-ganhaenghwe in 1948 has been thus far only known to exist and for the first time the actual book is unveiled to the public.

Part 1, ‘Singing Moments in Life’ introduces lyrics containing the livelihood of daily scenes of the city Hanyang, lyrics frankly expressing love, and lyrics of songs played by the middle class people of the time gathered in a music room. The audience are invited to experience the sense of old traditional songs in a modern setting through a film and other various display methods.

Part 2, ‘Collecting and Transmitting Songs of the World’ introduces the original copy of Cheongguyeongeon along with the background stories and the process of its compilation, contents and lyrics in the book. The compilations of the songs from later periods such as Gagogwonryu and Haedonggayo, instruments and scores used, the changes in the lyrics of Cheongguyeongeon, and the difference between how to play Gagokchang songs and Sijochang songs are introduced.

Through this special exhibition, ‘Scenery of Moments in Life : Hangeul lyrics from Cheongguyeongeon’, the sentiment and words of the 18th century Hangeul songs can be experienced. Also, the exhibition hopes to generate more interests in researches of traditional Gagok song lyrics.

  • 1. Singing Moments in Life
    In Cheongguyeongeon, lyrics to 580 songs well liked by the upper class at the time are included. Kim Cheontaek considered that unaltered words expressing emotions and instincts of mankind are the true face of nature. He even collected songs considered to be indecent and vulgar at the time and titled 116 of such songs as ‘Manhwengcheongryu’ in Cheongguyeongeon. ‘Manhwencheongryu’ means a collection of slow songs sung in a drawl.

    In the lyrics to the songs in ‘Manhwengcheongryu’, vivid descriptions of daily life and sensitivity of the late Joseon period in Hanyang can be found. Hanyang is depicted as a fascinating city and ups and downs in life are genuinely captured in songs. Such sentiments of those lyrics can still be related to us today even after 300 years.
  • 2. Collecting Songs of the World and Transmitting
    Cheongguyeongeon, the oldest compilation of Gagok songs, has a prominent cultural value and meaning because it shows the original form of our traditional songs.

    Through the compilation in Cheongguyeongeon, Hangeul songs were easily learned and transmitted and furthermore it provided an opportunity to evaluate the value of Hangeul lyrics. Also, the composition and the content of Cheongguyeongeon influenced the later lyrical compilations not only during its own time but the years that followed.

    Cheongguyeongeon by Kim Cheon-taek
    Cheongguyeongeon by Kim Cheon-taek

    The oldest existing book of traditional Gagok song lyrics