Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts


Music Performance

First Advisor

Dr. Irina Voro


The purpose of this project is introducing South Korean composer Seung Ki Hong’s Arirang Variations (2015). Hong’s post-2013 work has focused on incorporating traditional Korean melodies into Western instrumental music; Arirang Variations exemplifies this process. The theme is “Arirang,” a folksong that Koreans have sung to express their joys and sorrows for centuries. Hong transforms this iconic melody through a series of variations in various dance styles such as a tango and a Viennese waltz.

This paper includes two main sections. The first provides background information that, although important for understanding Arirang Variations, is inaccessible to many performers. This section covers the culturally specific meanings conveyed by the folksong “Arirang”; biographical data on Seung Ki Hong; and Hong’s thoughts on musical aesthetics as gleaned from interviews with him. The core of the document is a performance guide meant to foster a suitably expressive interpretation of Arirang Variations. While the guide draws its specific examples from Arirang Variations, it offers generalizable strategies for musical analysis and performance practice. The guide may therefore help students perform this specific work while improving their cantabile style of playing.

Korean classical music is not well known internationally. It can be challenging to access without Korean language skills; minimal information is available in English about Seung Ki Hong’s works. In the case of composers who use local folkloric material, lack of cultural literacy regarding Korean traditional music is another barrier for appreciation by foreign audiences. This project takes one step towards rectifying these difficulties by drawing attention to Arirang Variations and providing potential performers with the information needed to play it sensitively and confidently.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

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