Through their ability to meld different musical styles together, Gong Myoung have created an explosive new sound that is truly their own

If you can bash it and make a noise, you can bet Gong Myoung will make it sing. A Korean percussion quartet with a passion for music, Park Seung-Won, Cho Min-Soo, Kang Sun-Il and Song Kyong-Keun are four young men with great smiles and music at their fingertips. Not bound by tradition they aim to create music with a wide range of instruments including the cahon, djembe and wind bells that interweave genres and cultures.

They introduce their own brand of harmony from hitting a stone block with hollow bamboo pipes, or playing an empty water cooler like a drum.

The quartet has built up a reputation for performing with breathtaking timing, speed, stamina and force, and this is a concert you will enjoy even if you don't know your jing (gong) from your janggu (hour-glass drum).

Skilled and versatile, Gong Myoung mixes traditional music with innovative, contemporary sounds to create a style that's highly entertaining. Their love of music and sense of fun is totally infectious.

The percussion band which made its debut in 1998 has since been trying to create and recreate sounds of traditional Korean music, producing a diverse and original sound which echoes within Korea and has spread throughout the world. By creating their own instruments out of bamboo, they have become an innovative ensemble.

Korean music remains exotic to many, but as Gong Myoung performs for the first time in Chennai they bring with them a blend of the old, the new, and the natural world.

This show is presented by InKo Centre in association with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Republic of Korea and the Korea Arts Management Service.

DATE: November 21, 7.15 p.m.VENUE: The Music Academy

Q&A

How did you happen to "invent" Gong Myoung? What led to it? How is it different from other bamboo instruments?

Twelve years ago, the four musicians that make up Gong Myoung, played together for a performance in the University - at that time, they created music spontaneously. Our music is based on Korean traditional music and we aim to harmonise with all kinds of world music. When we created the bamboo instrument, we did not know that the instrument exists in South East Asia. We specially produced an instrument that could play the Korean traditional musical scale to our own unique rhythm.

You create new music. How do you go about it - work together or individually?

As we've spent a long time together, we compose the melody naturally. We don't know what comes first - sometimes we invent the music instrument in order to create a melody. At other times, we create a melody which suits the instrument. Either way, we always cooperate through group work

Your music is new. So what kind of response do you get in your own country? What kind of response do you get outside Korea?

There is no difference between performing in Korea or abroad. We humbly mention that we have built up a good track record. Recently, we received a standing applause for the first time while on tour in the U.K.

What were some of the interesting reactions to your shows?

One fan in the U.K. came to all seven cities where we performed because he was touched by our music.

Have you thought of using Indian rhythms?

Musical instruments of all kinds are always on our mind and this helps us keep our music new and creative.

How do you arrive at a balance between natural and synthetic sounds?

The character of our music is to use natural musical instruments rather than electronic ones. Of course, we use the electronic drums, but we layer it with sounds of nature. In a strict sense, natural musical instruments have a more distinctive sound.

What kind of audience are you looking for? Do you have to choose your music to suit each place, each different audience?

All people, everywhere, are our audience. The difference from performances in Korea is that there is a limitation to the number of musical instrument that we can take abroad. So in that sense, the musical programme is also limited for overseas performances.

How do you feel about your first visit to Chennai? What do you want to see in Chennai, do in Chennai?

We are excited about visiting Chennai. We would love to have a cultural experience and see historic sites, as the city's old classic architecture will definitely inspire our music. We want to visit the Government Museum, temples and Mamallapuram, and if we have time, we want to go to the beach as well.

GR