|I first heard Uri Param in their Ueno Park performance in November of 2000. In an outdoor performance theater they performed a wide variety of pieces in different meters. What struck me most about Uri Param was the complexity of the rhythms that they incorporated. In 1995 I toured Korea by bicycle and had seen Poongmul performance on several occasions. However, much of what I saw in Korea was trance-like rhythms played while the "Farmer's Dance" with the sangmo hat (which has a stick with a ribbon that is swung with flips of the head in time with the rhythm) was performed. Listening to Uri Param, I was able to clearly hear the different rhythms of Poongmul.
After the performance I introduced myself to the group and asked them where they were from. I was astounded to hear that they were not from Korea but were a group that practiced and performed in the Tokyo area. They welcomed me to join them to study the chyanngo drum (the hourglass shaped drum) on weekends in Kamata.
Since this time I have had the opportunity to learn several fundamental songs with Uri Parum and had the occasion to join them for several performances as well as frequent social events. My study of chyanngo drumming has been incredibly rewarding. Chyanngo has some of the most unique rhythms I have ever heard. It is most similar to the Indian tabla rhythms because of the long beat phrases with complex multiple rhythms within the structure of the phrase. Another similarity between the two styles is that the chyanngo has two sides, one played with a mallet, giving a deep resonant tone, while trills are played with a light bamboo stick with the right hand. This mirrors the two sounds of the tabla/duggi pair of drums. And finally, both tabla and chyanngo repeat and alter the length of their measures within a specific song rather than keeping a uniform measure through out.
Uri Param is very open-minded to experiment and discover various musical styles. We have been joined in our rehearsals by performers of Mongolian singing, Senegalese sabar drumming and Japanese taiko in the time that I have been with the group. Uri Param attended the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival in Jamaica this year. I hope to welcome them in my home city of San Francisco in the coming years.
Uri Param Website