30 May 2006

J is for Janggu.

(Title is linked to a Wikipedia article on janggu, much of which is also quoted below.)

This is a janggu..

.. one of four percussion instruments used in Samul Nori, or traditional Korean drumming. I was persuaded this past spring to join a Samul Nori ensemble group on campus and I'm now officially hooked.

First, a bit more information on the drum itself:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Janggu is the most widely used percussion instrument in most kinds of Korean traditional music. It is made from a hollow wooden body and two leather skins. The two sides produce sounds of different pitch and tone, which then played together, represents the harmony of man and woman.

The oldest historical record about this hourglass drum can be traced to the reign of King Munjong (1047-1084) of Goryeo. This instrument has been found both in a mural painting of Goguryeo tomb and in the bell inscriptions belonging to the Silla period. Whereas the Buk is used to accompany vocal music such a Pansori, the Janggu is usually classified as an accompanying instrument because of its flexible nature and its agility with complex rhythm. Janggu is one of the leather percussion instruments consisting of an hour-glass shaped body with two heads (hides or skins) lapped onto metal hoops placed over the open ends of the body and secured by counter-hoops. It goes by the name either Janggu or Janggo, also sometimes called Seyogo (slim waist drum) because of the large heads and its slim waist.

The left head ('Buk' side) is covered with a thick cowhide, horsehide, or deer skin and produces deep and low tones. The right side ('chae' side) is usually covered with a lighter horsehide and produces higher tones. Either porcelain, tile, metal, wood, guard, or tinned sheet can be used to make the body. Popular choices are poplar and paulownia woods. However, paulownia is most popular because it is the lightest and the best resonating material that produces beautiful sounds. The round tube in the middle connecting the left and right side of the hour-glass shaped body is called Jorongmok. The size of the Jorongmok determines the quality of tone: the wider the tube, the deeper and huskier it sounds; the narrower the tube, the harder and snappier it sounds.

{..tangent snipped..}

There are two kinds of sticks (chae)- 'Gungchae' and 'Yeolchae'. Gungchae is made from a bamboo root, boiled and straightened out. A hardwood, such as birch, or antler bone is fitted onto the end of the stick. Yeolchae is made from a bamboo stick.

Since the performer can use his/her hands as well as sticks, various sounds and tempo, deep and full, soft and tender, menacing sounds, and fast and slow beats - can be created to suit the mood of the audience. Using this capability, a dexterous performer can dance along moving his/her shoulders up and down and make the audience carried away and dance along with him/her. The way performers carry the Janggu differ from person to person, from region to region and varies depending on his/her taste.
So far I've learned three songs (Tego Sori, Young Nam Farmer's Music, and Hae Do Ji) and performed a couple of times with the ensemble. I'll learn the fourth song that the ensemble performs this summer. When we practice and perform, we sit on the floor with the drums in front of us (though there are some songs when the buk's are up on stands), set slightly off center to the left.

The music is not written in standard Western notation, and Young Nam Farmer's Music is written in a different notation from the other two pieces, so it took some time just to get oriented to the notation. There are three basic "notes" - a single hit on the left head with the Gungchae (Koong), a single hit on the right head with the Yeolchae (Ta), and hitting both heads at the same time with their respective chae (Doong). Additionally, you can cross over either chae to hit the opposite drum head (though left cross overs (hitting the right head with the Gungchae) have been most common in the pieces I've learned so far). Either chae can also be struck against the edge of either drum head - which produces more of a "click" instead of a "boom" - or struck together. Tego Sori (large audio file - 5.3 MB) has examples of all of these sounds, though it's difficult to tell which ones are produced by which methods without seeing a performance.

Janggu aren't terribly expensive, but are only available in Korea (or at least, the ones we use are), so the shipping can get exorbitant. Fortunately, if you know someone going over, they can bring a drum back with them in their checked luggage. I know two people going to Korea this summer and one has agreed to bring a drum back for me, so hopefully sometime in the next couple of months I'll have my own janggu. Until then, I'm borrowing one of the University's janggu so I can practice at home between our weekly rehearsals and catch up with the rest of the ensemble (which has been practicing off and on for about three years).

Note: This is now the third time I've completely re-written this post. I've tried to remember to get everything in with each re-write, but if something doesn't make sense or you have questions, let me know and I can fill in stuff I've missed.

25 May 2006

Has anyone seen my "J" post..?

*sigh* I wrote my "J" post in March, way ahead of schedule, and saved it as a draft. I *swear* that the week before last, I published it. It's no longer in my drafts folder, but neither is it showing up in my blog. *grumble* I can re-write it, it's just frustrating that I was so ahead of the game and was foiled.

In the meantime, I will distract you with knitting pictures. First a couple of finished objects: the Fixation socks and the Lily ribbed tank.

I'm not sure how I like the socks. Fixation is just not.. really my thing, I think. I haven't worn them yet (in fact they're still sitting on the table like that and I think I took this picture this past weekend), so I might change my mind, but I don't think I'll make more socks out of Fixation, at least not for me. I have most of a skein of this color left plus most of a skein of a variegated colorwary, so I might make a pair for someone else using those.

The tank I like quite a bit. It could be a little longer and I probably could have made it narrower, but if I wear another tank under it (it's a little too see-thru to just wear on its own), it works just fine. I wore it Sunday to my niece's birthday party and this picture was taken after that, so it's a bit stretched out. The silk doesn't spring back as well as wool or acrylic would, but I don't really mind that.

This, of course, is Rogue. Or at least most of the hood for Rogue. I actually finished the hood this week, but don't have a more recent picture. I'm not sure if I'm going to start working on the sleeves right away or not since it's unlikely that I'll have much opportunity to wear it until fall, so it might wait until later in the summer. We'll see.

I've also continued plugging away on the Candle Flame wrap and am about four or five repeats into it, which is still only about 2/3rds of the first skein. It's sort of putzy, but I'm getting used to the chart (it's 36 rows) so it's been going better. I'm starting to wonder though if the variegated yarn is too busy for the pattern.

This is it so far, pseudo-blocked on my bulletin board at work. I think it's the striping that is bugging me - I like the light/dark pools, but the striping is a little too stark. It looks better stretched out, so I'm hoping once it's all finished and blocked properly that it will be fine.

This weekend we're escaping to my parents' cabin and I'm hoping to work on some tablet weaving, so there may not be much knitting progress to show come Tuesday, but I do have about 12 hours in the car the next four days, so there's likely to be some either on Candle Flame or on a new project.

20 May 2006

Quick update

Was in Chicago this week. Met Cate and Sara and Minh over Thai. Was a bad knit blogger and didn't bring anything to knit. *shamed* But Cate did manage to show me how to ply (though I have to admit that I haven't really tried it yet) without either singles or a drop spindle. Nifty trick, eh?

I did, however, make some knitting progress. The first of the Simply Lovely Lace socks is finished and the second started. The yellow Lily tank is finished as of this afternoon and I hope to wear it tomorrow to my neice's birthday party. I'm to the double-decrease rows in the hood on Rogue. Pictures to follow once I get a nice sunny day and a camera with fresh batteries and the projects all in the same place at the same time.

Tomorrow I have about 5-6 hours in the car and I'm pretty sure I'll only have to drive half of it at most, which likely means the second Simply Lovely Lace sock might get close to finished and/or I might add another repeat or two to the Candle Flame Shawl. Pictures of those will happen later, too.

09 May 2006

Signs I was not meant to work today.

1. The alternator in the car started dying half way to work this morning. I have a 25 mile commute, most of which runs through farm land. I was fortunate to make it to the little town between my little town and the little city I work in before it died completely, and the car is under warranty, so it will all be okay, but clearly someone, somewhere did *not* want me to be at work today. (I mean someone other than me.)

2. In reading local headlines, I mistakenly read "Rains keep local farmers from fields" as "Raisins keep local farmers from field" and couldn't help but picture the California Raisins standing at the edge of a field drunk and threatening farmers with pitchforks...

3. I needed a nap. Because I was home, I could take one. Serendipity? I think not.

Instead of working and while waiting to hear from the garage, I will update you all on the state of my knitting and the state of my yard. All pictures are clickable thumbnails, e.g. clicking them will open a bigger version of the picture.

Yard first.

From left to right, a shot of the violets in the raspberry patch, the small apple tree at the corner of the raspberry patch, and the raspberry patch itself. We're going to try to maintain a semblance of a path through the middle of the patch this year, which is why the straw/dead grass is in there. I'll have to be vigilant about trimming back branches to maintain the path, but hopefully it will mean we actually get some raspberries to eat this year.

This is what we think might be a Sand Cherry, or alternatively one of the plum varieties. It's a spindly little guy and hasn't been well-tended so we're not sure what to do with it (it's also in sort of an awkward place, so the discussions so far have been "move it" vs. "dig it up and dump it and get a new something that we can identify"). I don't remember it blooming last year, but we could have just missed it.

The garden bed along the south side of the house. (This bed is actually one picture longer, but at the moment that spot is mostly empty. It will be tomatoes and maybe garlic chives in a few weeks, though.) The first one is a shot of the Asiatic lily that grows by the water meter. I don't recall it blooming last year, so we'll see how it does this year. Next are the yellow flowers with tall stalks and the phlox, with a couple of tulips thrown in for early spring color. Next, the orange lilies that I just transplanted from a friend. There are also some poppies seeded behind the lilies, to the right of the bleeding heart, and a couple violets scattered in there for good measure. Finally, the part of the side garden that wraps around to the front, which is a huge bleeding heart, a couple still-too-big hostas, and some mint (and possibly now-destroyed catnip?) that I transplated from the raspberry patch.

This is the newly planted (mostly transplanted) garden inside the fence. I forget what the red/green plants are called, but in front of them is a row of hostas and in front of the hostas will either be cukes or 4 o'clocks, depending on what I decide to plant where. The other shot is a birds nest that is strategically placed on top of the outside light over the patio. Fortunately we don't tend to use the outsidelights much, or the nest would have to be removed - it's a fire hazard.

And the crowning glory (at least for early spring) - the large apple tree just outside the fence. It really is truly glorious right now. The bushes behind the tree in the first picture are the ones that we'll be ripping out in a few weeks. They're one huge bird hotel and the birds are truly a nuisance.

Later in the spring, I'm sure I'll post more pictures of the roses and the phlox and the yellow flowers. I'd post pictures of the cukes and tomatoes, which are just starting to poke up their little heads, but I think that can wait.

Right then, on to knitting..

First up, this one ought to look familiar by now. Rogue, with the first dozen or so rows of the hood completed. I worked on this again last night and now have the first hood chart complete, so it looks a little different now, but not enough to warrant another picture yet.

This is the yellow ribbed tank (also a little farther along than shows here) from Noro Lily. I decided to suck it up and finish it and block it and see how bad the woven in ends were. If nothing else, I can tug out the caught up parts and re-weave them in. I'm taking the train to Chicago for the AIR Forum Sunday so this one might actually be finished and in a suitable state to wear at the Forum.

The socks I restarted in Cascade Fixation. It's the lacy sock pattern from the Spring Interweave Knits, which I think looks much better than the pattern I was using originally.

And finally, the much abandoned of late Candle Flame Wrap, about two repeats in. I don't like having two projects going that I have to sit with the chart in my lap to work on, and right now Rogue is more interesting than this one, so it's mostly just sitting waiting for me to get interested in it again. *shrug*

I have yarn that I think will work okay for the brioche tank in the new Interweave Knits, so that might be the next knitting project. Or it might not. Only time will tell.

07 May 2006


Okay, just a quicky, a teaser if you will, but I had to share.

I just found out that I'm getting my very own pottery wheel!!

I'm so excited about this. It's a little treadle wheel and I'm getting it for far less than I thought I'd be able to get a wheel for, which has me a little concerned (no, I haven't seen pictures or the actual wheel yet, but I trust the person who notified me about it to not lead me down a path of disappointment) about the condition it will be in, but given that it's a treadle (e.g., non-electric, hence no motor, which is the expensive part) I think it will be just fine. I have been warned that the legs will need leveling, but I'm really not at all concerned about the frame - that's just wood and easily repaired/replaced if needed.

ROCK ON!! Yea!!

I'll post more about the wheel once I get it (hopefully I can pick it up Friday, but I won't be home again after that until after Chicago, so you'll pr'bly have to wait for pictures for a bit), but I did manage to get lots of pictures of the various gardens and trees around the yard and *gasp* some actual knitting progress pictures taken this weekend, so I'll post those later.

My very own wheel..! This is so terribly kuhl!

03 May 2006

This is one of those times..

.. when I wish my remote desktop connection worked for my actual, physical desktop.

I can't find my 'biner. I'm 90% sure I found it in the basement attached to an old bag that Jack was using while taking classes at MATC a month ago and snagged it to attach to my existing briefcase. Except it's not on my briefcase. Nor is it on the bag I remember finding it on. Nor anywhere else I can think to look in the house. Which leads me to wonder if I didn't get annoyed with it, or was fidgeting with it (more likely), one day at the office and left it on my desk by mistake. It's plausible, but not likely.

And I'm impatient and don't feel like waiting until tomorrow to find out because I *need* it now.

Okay, so I don't *need* it now, but I *want* it now. I just finally got around to fixing the strap on my big Lucy bag so that the long strap would run from the top to the bottom of the bag (I can post pictures later - that's not the point). But because of how the bag is constructed, I couldn't just sew the strap to the bottom of the bag. Instead I sewed little loops in the ends of the strap (again, pictures can be had later - it's not the point now) and planned to loop the loops through my 'biner and then work the 'biner through the felt at the bottom of the bag (it doesn't matter if there are small holes in the bottom of the bag; it's my gym bag and the smallest thing in there is my brush, which won't fit through the holes I'm making).

But I can't find my 'biner.

Things I'm learning.

1. The reason my stamina is better when I swim breaststroke than when I freestyle is because I can't kick my sprinter's instinct when I swim freestyle and I push myself to go too fast. I'm learning to count kicks-per-stroke as a way to try to slow myself down and it seems to be working. I did 9 laps today, which is more than I'll have to do for the race, but I figure it's better to overshoot than undershoot. (And no, they weren't continuous; see the stamina thing above.)

2. After swimming, anything remotely starchy or sweet (with the apparent exception of fruit, preferably melon) is entirely unappetizing. Blech. Cheese and meat (and the aforementioned fruit, preferably melon) seem to fit the bill just fine. (If this is in any way a surprise to anyone, it would be a surprise to me.)

3. I can either try to keep my head down and stay out of the politics of my work enviroment, and continue doing what in my mind is just enough to complete the requirements of my job, or I can own up to the fact that higher education doesn't understand "job" and realize that I've accepted a lifestyle and that in order to improve things, I need to wade at least hip-deep in the politics and make a stand. Check back in six months to see how that goes. *grin*

4. I have 4 weeks of vacation I should try to use by the end of the fiscal year (June 30), and while I don't currently have anything planned for the week of Memorial Day or the second week of June, something tells me the only person I'm going to hurt by taking both of those weeks off will be me. But I might do it anyway because I could get things done at home.. like strip varnish off the window sills or paint the dining room.

5. Getting back into regular exercise increases my metabolism (again, if this is a surprise, I'll be surprised) which makes me too warm at night lately. I know from past experience this will calm down once I get back into a routine, but at the moment, it means restless nights.

02 May 2006


Hrm.. yeah. I do that, don't I? Not that you'd really know it much lately. I've been in a slump. I think it's on the tail end and on it's way out, but I've still been decidedly uninspired to do much with any fiber lately. Worrisome, no?

I tried last week to pull myself out of the slump by starting another pair of socks. You can never have too many pairs of handknit socks and people have been raving about what nice socks Cascade Fixation makes, so I got a couple skeins in a sort of light sage green and cast on for some simple lace socks. And got through the cuff of the first one and decided I just didn't like it. I'm not sure if it's the pattern - which seems.. pre-stretched? - or the yarn - which while elastic seems not to pull in as much as I want. So I'll be frogging those and looking for a new inspiring sock pattern to try later (maybe the Milanese Lace in the new Magknits..?)

Then, one of the last evenings when Jack was busy working on papers, I sat myself down in my craft room, popped in an old favorite CD or two, and picked up the yellow ribbed tank I started oh-so-long-ago in Noro Lily. I really would like to finish this one - I think it will be lovely to wear, especially with summer coming up - but I'm having difficulty with how the ends look.

And here we get into what I'm convinced many knitters will consider sacrilege. I tend not to leave ends to weave in. Rather, I leave a couple inch tail, knit with both strands for six to eight stitches, leave another couple inch tail and then go on until I come to that spot in the next round and then I slip the tails (separately, when I come to them) over the working yarn one stitch over. I do this in the same direction (so I end up moving the tail diagonally) for a bit and then switch to go the other direction. Every now and then I give the tail a little tug to make sure it's not pooching out the working side. This leaves me with no tails to weave in at the end and with most projects is not a problem.

But with Lily, it is. (I'd show you a picture but the batteries in my camera appear to have given up the ghost and the charged ones are out in the car.) It's.. messy, for lack of a better word. Working in the tails seems to be pulling the stitches all around, and even if I try to tug the fabric back into 'true', it looks wonky. I think it's the ribbing that makes it skew, but I'm not sure. And the yarn is slippery, so I'm worried that without really anchoring the tails, it's going to fall apart after just a few outings.

So I'm trying to decide if I need to rip out the tank and start over and figure out a different way to deal with the ends (though I'm really not convinced that weaving them in at the end is going to result in any difference).

*sigh* So that's two knitting mostly-failures. Not a good track record for trying to get out of a slump.

Rogue to the rescue..? We'll see. When we last left our intrepid hoody, I had just realized that I messed up the shoulder on one side and would have to rip it back to fix it. Well, last night was Rogue Monday, and since mamacate, who gave me the pattern and recently started her own Rogue (and might I add, is farther along in it than I am?), I decided it was time to deal with that shoulder. And it was easy. And then I started on the hood. And while I have to admit that I'm changing the way some of the cable cross (I prefer mirrored symmetry), and I'm missing half the chart for the left side because my printer refuses to print it, it's going okay. I only got about a dozen rows done, but there were no disasters and I don't think I have to rip it out or anything. (Again, there'd be pictures, but the battery thing..)

So there's hope. I think.

By the by.. two weeks until Chicago..? Have we settled on a day/time/location for our first knitters SIG meeting?

And did I mention that I got one of the 50 Summer Data Policy Institute Fellowships? If you're curious to know what I'll be working on, drop a note and I can go into detail, but for now, suffice it to say it has to do with trying to establish national success measure benchmarks for transfer students similar to graduation and retention rates (which are cohort-based, and therefore lose students entirely once they transfer). I'm pretty excited to get to work on something with some meat, but I have to admit the lukewarm reception of the news by my boss was a bit of a downer, so I haven't really felt like it was much to crow about. :/