The Danso

Danso and Score

We were given 3 options for a segment of our cultural class – learn a K-Pop dance and have it recorded in a studio, learn how to play the Danso (Korean flute) and have it recorded in a studio, or learn about the Buddhist culture and visit a Buddhist temple. For me, it was a no-brainer option right from the start. I play the flute, so naturally I wanted to learn how to play the Danso as well.

I thought it would be an easy process but easy it was not. The embouchure required to play the Danso is completely different from that required of a flautist. I had to unlearn all the knowledge I had in order to play the Danso. To be exact, it was simply to produce a sound. That took me almost 2 days before I could consistently produce a sound 80% of the time I made an attempt.

The score-reading and fingering, on the other hand, was a piece of cake. Score is a little different – it uses chinese characters to denote finger positions rather than notes. This, I guess is to facilitate those who don’t have formal musical training. In total there are only 4 holes to take care of on the Danso (and 5 positions on 1 octave). Compared to the flute and recorder, this is nothing. I just wished I could produce sounds as well as I could do the fingering. πŸ˜†

At the end of a 5-hour worth of classroom training, we were herded into a recording studio situated within the university to take a video. We were appalled when we were first told of that because none of us was prepared. Our teacher said it didn’t matter if we couldn’t produce a single sound; just pretend to be playing it well.

We have not seen the video but I’m sure it will turn out as horrible as we thought we sounded. There were probably only 3 solid players amongst the 15 of us, and maybe about 3 halves (half as in not quite producing a solid sound). I belong to the halves. Quite certain I will never watch the video. I am not brave enough.

Below is a writeup I wrote for my class’ FB page. Teacher wanted me to share my experience since I was the only one in my class who chose to pick up the Danso. I hastily typed it on my mobile phone while chillaxing at a book cafe nearby my gosiwon. Some of the things I wrote were not true… I had some very disruptive classmates who were not there to learn the Danso; they were there because it just seemed the easiest out of the 3 options.

이번주 λ‹¨μ†Œλ₯Ό λ°°μ› μ–΄μš”.
λ„ˆλ¬΄ λ„ˆλ¬΄ μ–΄λ €μ› μ–΄μš”!
μ œκ°€ ν”Œλ£¨νŠΈλ₯Ό ν’€ 쀄 μ•Œμ•„μš”.
근데 λ‹¨μ†Œμ™€ ν”Œλ£¨νŠΈκ°€ μ•ˆ κ°™μ•„μš”.
λ‹¨μ†Œμ˜ ν’€κΈ°κ°€ ν”Œλ£¨νŠΈλ³΄λ‹€ 더 μ–΄λ €μ›Œμš”.
μ§€κΈˆ 아직 잘 ν’€λŸ¬μš”.
μ†Œλ¦¬λŠ” 가끔 μžˆμ–΄μš”.
μž μ‹œ 후에 μ†Œλ¦¬λŠ” μ—†μ–΄μš”.
정말 νžˆλ“€μ–΄κ³  λ‹Ήν™©ν•˜κ³  μžˆμ—ˆμ–΄μš”.
ν•˜μ§€λ§Œ μˆ˜μ—…μ΄ μ•„μ£Ό 재미 μžˆμ—ˆμ–΄μš”.
μ„ μƒλ‹˜μ€ μ•„μ£Ό μΉœμ ˆν•΄μš”.
λ°˜μΉœκ΅¬λ„ μž¬λ―Έμžˆμ–΄μš”.
μˆ˜μ—…μ‹œκ°„μ— 기뢄이 μ’‹μ•˜μ–΄μš”.
λΉ„λ””μ˜€κ°€ μžˆμ–΄μš”.
근데 μ§€κΈˆ μ–΄λ”” μžˆλŠ”μ§€ λͺ¨λ₯΄κ² μ–΄μš”.

The plastic Danso was a gift from the school and we got to keep it after the segment ended. Apparently all elementary students in South Korea learn how to play the Danso so it shouldn’t be that difficult to pick up. At the beginning of the class, I told myself I would reward myself with a real bamboo Danso (not expensive at all) if I manage to pick it up because I like the timbre it produces. It reminds me of the Chinese Dizi my dad used to play. But I guess I didn’t earn that right after all. Oh well…

(Afternote: the dad should be quite happy I finally picked up an oriental instrument. He had been asking why I kept picking up the western instruments but squarely ignored the oriental ones. I just wasn’t in the mood to argue that it was him who first sent me for piano lessons. :P)

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