Dr Simon Mills
Simon Mills is an ethnomusicologist specialising in Korean music, music’s roles in ritual and healing contexts, systems of musical representation (terminology and notation systems), musical analysis (especially of rhythm), performance theory, and musical instruments and their classification. His main area of expertise is Korean shaman music, which he has researched extensively in the field, working with both charismatic and non-charismatic ritualists. His PhD research, based at the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), focused on the ritual percussion music of South Korea’s East Coast hereditary shamans, and this is also the topic of his book Healing Rhythms (Ashgate 2007).
Other publications by Dr. Mills include various articles about Korean shaman ritual music, several articles exploring other facets of Korean music (in particular, techno-culture and globalisation), and two edited volumes (for the journals Musike and Mortality). Dr. Mills has also published within the field of music education for the journal Classroom Music (2005) and has worked as editor for Musical Terms Worldwide by Jan Laurens Hartong (Semar 2006). In addition, working as a musical transcriber and analyst, he has provided material for ‘Ritual, Music and Life in Tamu Shamanism’ (working with Keith Howard and Yarjung Krōmchaī Tamu, Semar 2006) and for an interactive DVD about Nigerian ritual dance, Batabade: A Codification of Bata (SOASIS 2007). He is currently active as a member of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, and regularly presents papers at their conferences. In 2010-2011, he worked with Dr. Sunghee Park on a project studying the musical life on the remote Korean island of Ulleungdo, funded by the AKS (Academy of Korean Studies). From 2013-14, he conducted another AKS-funded project together with Dr Park, researching the formation and expression of personal style in Korean shaman music.
As a keen adherent of the ‘bi-musicality’ approach to ethnomusicology – acquiring knowledge of another’s music through practical learning – Simon Mills has devoted much time to learning, teaching, and performing Korean music, in particular the hourglass drum (changgo), hand gong (kkwaenggwari), and end-blown bamboo flute (tanso), He has performed lecture-demonstrations in a variety of venues around the UK, in Holland, and Korea. He is a keen member of the Durham Gamelan Group, which has recently performed in the Sage (Gateshead), Carlisle Cathedral, and many other venues.
- Korean traditional music (especially shaman ritual music)
- Musical instruments
- Shamanism and music's role in healing practices
- Systems of musical representation (terminology and notation)
- Transcription and analysis
- Mills, Simon R S (2007). Healing Rhythms: the World of Korea's East Coast Hereditary Shamans (including CD). London: Ashgate.
- (2010). Analysing East Asian Music, Musike vol. II. The Hague: Semar.
- Mills, Simon RS, van Amstel, Peter & Markovic, Aleksandra (2006). Musical Terms Worldwide: A Companion for the Musical Explorer. The Hage: Semar.
Chapter in book
- Mills, Simon & Pratt, Keith. (2019). The Durham Oriental Music Festival and Chinese Music. In Global Perspectives of Ethnomusicological Studies in the Internet Age. Hui, Yu & Wild, Stephen. Zhejiang University Press. 250-305.
- Mills, Simon R.S. (2018). Life beyond Ritual? Preserving the Shamanic Performance Arts in South Korea Today. In Music as Heritage: Historical and Ethnographic Perspectives. Norton, Barley & Matsumoto, Naomi Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 105-128.
- Mills, Simon (2017). Music in Korean Shaman Ritual. In Eolssigu! The Sounds of Korea. Curti, Horacio Barcelona: Ajuntament de Barcelona. 86-103.
- Mills, Simon (2014). 'Local Heroes': Re-establishing Drums and Gongs in Ulleungdo’s Musical Life. In Han’guk ŭmakhak-ŭi chip’yŏng: Hwang Chunyŏn kyosu chŏngnyŏn t’woeim kinyŏm = Musicology in Korea: A Commemorative Retirement Collection for Professor Hwang Chunyŏn. The Publishing Committee for the Commemorative Retirement Collection for Professor Hwang Chunyŏn. Seoul: Minsokwon. 419-430.
- Mills, Simon R.S. (2013). A Tune with Many Faces: European Interpretations of Arirang. In Arirang in Korean Culture and Beyond: Arirang from Diverse Perspectives. Sheen, Dae-Cheol Seongnam Academy of Korean Studies Press. 257-274.
- Mills, Simon R.S. (2012). Music in Korean Shaman Ritual. In Rediscovering Traditional Korean Performing Arts. Um, Haekyung & Lee, Hyunjoo Seoul: Korean Arts Management Service. 39-45
- Mills, Simon R.S. (2008). Tokkaekki Changdan a musical goblin in east coast shaman ritual?. In Mandan Yi Hyegu Paksa Paeksu Kinyom Nonmunjip a collection of essays to commemorate the 100th Birthday of Scholar Yi Hyegu. Seoul: Minsokwon.
- Mills, Simon & Pratt, Keith (2017). The Durham Oriental Music Festival and its Legacy. Asian Musicology 27: 137-178.
- Mills, Simon R.S. & Park, Sung-Hee (2017). The Musical Faces of South Korea’s East Coast Shaman Tradition: An Exploration into Personal Style Formation and Expression. Ethnomusicology Forum 26(1): 69-92.
- Mills, Simon R.S. & Park, Sung-Hee (2013). A Mysterious Island in the Digital Age: Technology and Musical Life in Ulleungdo, South Korea. Ethnomusicology Forum 22(2): 160-187.
- Mills, Simon R.S. (2012). Music and Death: Introduction. Mortality: Promoting the interdisciplinary study 17(2): 89-91.
- Mills, Simon R.S. (2012). Sounds to soothe the soul: music and bereavement in a traditional South Korean death ritual. Mortality: Promoting the interdisciplinary study of death and dying 17(2): 145-157.
- Mills, Simon R.S. (2011). The Tale of the Three Young Brothers: an Analytical Study of Music and Communal Joy (hŭng) in Korean Folk Culture. Music Analysis: Special Issue on Music and Emotion 29(1-3): 276-305.
- Mills, Simon RS (2010). Playful Patterns of Freedom: Hand Gong Performance in Korean Shaman Ritual. Musiké International journal of ethnomusicological studies 4(II): 145-170.
- Mills, Simon RS (2012). Arirang in Europe: A Melody with Many Faces (Online essay).