Story of Gayageum

Chanchal Bharti, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh

There are approximately 60 to 70 different types of traditional Korean musical instruments, but today we will focus on the most well-known, the Gayageum. Gayageum or Kayageum is a 12-stringed Korean stringed instrument. It is the most widely used traditional Korean musical instrument. Because of its beautiful and clear tone, it is quite popular among all musical instruments in Korea. It has 12 strings and a hollowed-out chamber made of paulownia wood. The soundboard, made of paulownia wood, is held together by twelve movable bridges that hold twisted silk strings. Other types of wood are also used in certain Gayageums, although the reverberation is not as strong as the original wood.

3 types of Gayageum

1. Pungnu Gayageum: for classical music

2. Sanjo Gayageum: for folk music

3. Improved Gayageum: for Modern Compositions

History of Gayageum

The Gayageum was developed around the sixth century by King Gasil. First, it was named gayago and later Gayageum. The instrument was first made by King Gasil in the Kaya Kingdom around the sixth century and was further developed by Ureuk in the time of King Jinheung in the Silla dynasty. From the third century onwards, the gayageum is thought to have been developed. In Korean traditional music, the original shape of gayageum is still employed. Various types of gayageum, such as sanjo gayageum for sanjo music, and larger numbers of string gayageum, such as 18, 21, and 25 strings for modern music, have been produced since the 19th century.

How Gayageum is played

It is played by sitting on the floor with crossed legs. The instrument takes a lot of skill with both hands. Gayageum is played with both hands. While seated on the floor, the player sets one end of the instrument on the right knee and the other end on the floor. The right hand plucks and flicks the strings close to the bridge, while the left hand pushes the strings on the left side of the bridge to raise the pitch. The Gayageum makes the sound when the strings are plucked.

Doesn’t it look interesting? Do you wish to learn to play this interesting instrument let us know in the comment section.

Video Credits: Arirang Culture

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Moumita Mondal says:

    I saw this instrument many times in a historical Kdrama but didn’t know the name. It really looks interesting and I would like to play it someday as I really like this kind of instruments♥️

  2. Mamoni says:

    I haven’t seen this before but in a Chinese drama called “The Untamed,” one of the main protagonists, Lan Zhan, is using a similar kind of instrument. And this also reminds me of one of our Indian instruments, the Veena. I don’t know if they’re similar or not because I don’t know much about music. But the Gayageum seems like a fun and interesting instrument as we can see, it has various usages, starting from classical music to modern compositions🙌❤

  3. Tahoora Charfare says:

    I came across this instrument on instagram and have been hooked on ever since…

  4. DJ says:

    Woah thank you so much for this article ,I love korean traditional music ,well written article ❤

  5. Thankyou for this insightful article. very well written

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