A Korean folk music tradition, pungmul is the musical expression of an indigenous Korean cosmology that situates people within the natural world and revolves around the harmony between nature and people. Pungmul involves drumming, dancing, and singing. It utilizes four main percussion instruments. The two gongs signify the heavens, while the two drums signify earth. Each instrument also corresponds to a particular element of nature. The small gong symbolizes thunder and lightning. The large gong symbolizes the wind. The hour-glass drum symbolizes rain, and the barrel drum symbolizes clouds. The playing of these instruments thus signifies the harmony of nature and people.
As a musical tradition that is practiced in Korean communities across the world, pungmul also represents the cultural heritage of Koreans. The Global Pungmul Institute chose SoriBeat as the name of its performance troupe for the richness of its symbolic meanings, which tie together pungmul cosmology, the Institute mission, and Korean American heritage.
The name SoriBeat reflects the mission of the Global Pungmul Institute. The name is a play on the Korean words “sori” meaning “sound” and “beat” meaning “light.” Thus the Korean meaning of SoriBeat is “sound and light.” Through sound, SoriBeat and the Institute seek to illuminate the world we live in and shine a light to build a better one for us all.
The name SoriBeat reflects the engagement of Korean and American cultures that forms the unique heritage of Korean Americans. The joining of the Korean word “sori” and the English word “beat,” along with the double meaning of “beat” as Korean for “light” and English for “rhythm,” signifies the multicultural purpose of SoriBeat and the Institute in spreading traditional Korean cultural arts with the hope of contributing to cross-cultural understanding.