Name: Buk.
Type: Membranophones > Drums > Barrel.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 211.22
Country: Korea.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The buk is a barrel drum traditional to jeongak [Korean court music] and Korean folk music. Buk are categorized as hyeokbu [혁부, 革部] which are instruments made with leather, and has been used for jeongak [Korean court music] and folk music.

Etymology: The name buk is a native Korean word, it is used to denote a generic meaning for drum [the Sino-Korean word being “go”]. It is most often used to describe a shallow barrel drum covered with a membrane of animal skin.

Currently there are twenty types of buk that are used in present day Korean traditional music. Most commonly used buk are the jwago to perform Samhyeon yukgak [삼현육각: Hangul, 三絃六角: Hanja]. They include yonggo for marching music, gyobango for bukchum [북춤, drum dance], beopgo for Buddhist ritual ceremonies, sogo used by Namsadang and street musicians. Soribuk called or called gojangbuk for pansori, maegubuk [or called nongabuk] used for nongak and motbanggo as played by farmers to keep the pace when working.

History: Buk have been used in Korean music since the period of the Three Kingdoms of Korea [57 AD – 668 AD]. The buk has been featured in mural paintings in the Anak tomb of Goguryeo [37 BC – 668 AD] and records of the book of Sui on the kingdoms, Goguryeo and Baekje [18 BC – 660 AD].

In the third Anak Tomb, there are two types of buk depicted in the paintings titled Juakdo [주악도: Hangul, 奏樂圖: Hanja “painting of playing music”] and Haengryeoldo [행렬도: Hangul 行列圖: Hanja, “painting of marching”]. Additionally the ipgo [‘입고: Hangul 立鼓: Hanja] and damgo [담고: Hangul, 擔鼓: Hanja] respectively. The ipgo is a buk that performers beat as standing, while the damgo is a buk that drummers strike as carrying it on their shoulder.

During the Unified Silla period [668 – 935], daego [대고: Hangul 大鼓: Hanja] or keunbuk, meaning “a big drum” was used along with a percussion instrument named bak [박: Hangul, 拍: Hanja] in a music played by Samhyeon Samjuk [삼현삼죽: Hangul, 三絃三竹: Hanja].

Which comprises samhyeon, three stringed instruments such as the geomungo, gayageum, hyangbipa samjuk such as a daegeum, junggeum and sogeum. In the Goryeo period [918 – 1392] as dangak and aak were introduced from China. Allot of buk such as janggu, gyobanggo, jingo began to be used for court music.

Playing Techniques: Performers in the court-music usually beat their buk with bukchae [북채, a drum stick] on one hand or two hands together. drummers who play folk music commonly beat their bukchae [북채, a drum stick] with their on their right hand. While hitting the other side of the buk with their bare left hand. A while ago, even jong [종, bell] was referred to as “soebuk” [쇠북, metal drum] and included in the buk category.

Construction: The round barrel-shaped body of the buk is carved from wood. Animal skin or leather membrane are stretched on both sides of the instrument creating the drum itself.

Citations: Bibliography: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed. S.v. “Puk,” by Robert C. Provine – Jang Sa-hun [장사훈] 1969 [각종 북의 명칭과 사진 자료: in Hangul] Korean Musical Instruments [韓國樂器大觀: Hanja, Korean] Korean Musicological Society / Cultural Heritage Administration. ISBN 89-7096-140-2 ; Archived from the original on 2011-07-16 ; Kang Han-yeong [강한영] [1976] ; Pansori 세종대왕기념사업회 also documented in the historic document Akhak gwebeom ; Website:

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