Sonagi Project is a Korean percussion ensemble that draws from traditional sources to create new, dynamic Korean music. Founded in 2006 by current artistic director Chang Jae Hyo, the group performs on traditional Korean percussion instruments, with a special focus on the janggu, the horizontal double-headed drum that has been integral to many genres of Korean music throughout its long history. Other instruments include the ggwaengwari (small gong), jing(medium-sized gong), and dungbuk(modified barrel drum). The group breathes new life into Korea’s traditional drumming as it brings these instruments into the twenty-first century, performing traditionally-based yet original repertoire for contemporary audiences, both domestically and abroad.
Sonagi Project creates music informed by various traditional genres. Influences include pungmul gut (farmers’ percussion band ritual), samulnori (modern percussion quartet), and pansori (traditional vocal art of storytelling)—genres that have roots in Korea’s indigenous shamanic culture; the group also incorporates jeontong minyo (traditional folk songs) as well as elements of Buddhist music. In building on traditional forms to give their music a contemporary sensibility, Sonagi Project takes liberties with certain techniques and rhythms, and at times embraces outside sources. Indeed, some of their original works contain African and Brazilian influences. Yet their music preserves the sentiment, emotion, and spirit of Korean tradition.
The group is currently based in Seoul, South Korea, and has performed in North America, South America, Europe and East Asia, to popular and critical acclaim. They are a leader of Korean music among a new generation of artists and performers that continue to engage in cultural exchange, and are a vibrant force in the world music scene that now flourishes around the globe.