Eunseo Choi

Date of Award


First Advisor

Larry Wallach

Second Advisor

Justin Jackson


Through the lens of the cultural evolution of Trot, jazz, and contemporary avantgarde music genres from 1910 to the present, this thesis examines how modern Korean history and its foreign relations significantly influenced the cultural activities of Koreans during and after the colonial period. Various modern Korean music genres including Korean Trot, jazz, and contemporary avant-garde music were significantly shaped by modern Korean history throughout the twentieth century. Shortly after Korea opened its ports to foreign nations in the late nineteenth century, western culture strongly influenced several aspects of the pre-colonial Korean community within a short period of time. Particularly, Changga or other genres of Korean popular music during the pre-colonial era showed many similarities with western classical vocal music. During the colonial period, newly rising Korean popular music such as Korean Trot were significantly influenced by Japanese popular music, Enka. Shortly after independence in 1945, Korean jazz briefly flourished due to the significant presence of American culture in postcolonial Korean society. As prominent Korean composers left to pursue their music education and careers in western countries, repertoires of contemporary Korean avantgarde music were soon recognized by western audiences including the compositions of artists such as Isang Yun and Unsuk Chin. By closely examining the development of each musical genre through detailed musical analysis, this thesis explores how Korean Trot, jazz, and avant-garde music developed their styles and forms in dynamic and vibrant moments of modern Korean history during the twentieth century.

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