Kayageum

Korean 12 silk stringed trasearable instrument

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The kayageum or gayagum (가야금, 伽倻琴) is a traditional Korean zither-like string instrument, with 12 strings.
It is probably the best known traditional Korean musical instrument. It is related to other Asian instruments, including the Chinese guzheng, the Japanese koto, the Mongolian yatga, and the Vietnamese đàn tranh. The kayageum was developed around the 6th century in the Kaya confederacy by King Gasil after he observed an old Chinese instrument.
He ordered a musician named Wu Ruk to compose music that could be played on the instrument. The original name was Kayago and later Kayageum. Evolved in the 19th century with the emergence of sanjo music—which literally means scattered melodies, a musical form that involves fast tempos and some improvisation. The sanjo kayageum is now the most widespread form of kayageum.

 

Court kayageum


Pungryu Kayageum for Korean traditional court music since 6C, Kaya-kingdom.
Pungryu Kayageum for Korean traditional court music since 6C, Kaya-kingdom.

The kayageum was developed around the 6th century in the Kaya confederacy by King Gasil after he observed an old Chinese instrument. He ordered a musician named Wu Reuk to compose music that could be played on the instrument. The original name was Kayago and later kayageum.

 

Sanjo kayageum


Sanjjo kayageum for Sanjo and folk music since 19C, Chosen Dynasty.
Sanjo kayageum for Sanjo and folk music since 19C, Chosen Dynasty.

 

The ancient kayageum of King Gashil is normally associated with accompaniment for court music, chamber music, and lyric songs. The sanjo gayageum is believed to have evolved in the 19th century with the emergence of sanjo music—which literally means scattered melodies, a musical form that involves fast tempos and some improvisation. The sanjo kayageum is now the most widespread form of kayageum.

 

Modern kayageum


Modern kayageum since 1950.
Modern kayageum since 1950’s.

 

All traditional kayageumuse silk strings, though, since the late 20th century, modern versions of the kayageum with more strings often use nylon-wrapped steel strings, similar to those used for the Chinese guzheng Brass stringshave also been introduced to produce a louder sound.To play modern music, kayageum with a greater number of strings have been developed, increasing the instrument’s range. Kayageum are available with 13, 17, 18, 21, 22, or 25 strings though instruments with more strings are available custom-made. The 21 string kayageum is normally found in North Korea.