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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

[Korean Traditional Musical Instruments Part 1] Chordophones

Chordophones definitions
A chordophone is any musical instrument that makes sound by way of a vibrating string or strings stretched between two points.

The most common chordophones musical intruments are violin, guitar, harp and piano.

Korea also has the traditional chordophones intruments, they are :

가야금 Gayageum

Gayageum literally means "a stringed instrument from the country of Gaya" is a twelve-stringed zither with twelve movable bridges. It is made of paulownia and chestnut wood. The front board side is made of paulownia as a sounding board with twelve silk strings of different thicknesses are uniformly tied in a row, each string is streched over an anjok (a small wooden pillar resembling a wild goose's foot and it is used for tuning and the back side is made from chestnut.
A gayageum player sitting cross-legged, places the instrument across the lap horizontally, pluck its strings with the right hand and vibrates its strings with the left hand.
There are two kinds of gayageum : 정악 가야금 jeongak gayageum, gayageum for elegant music and was used for classical music in the court and high society and 산조 가야금 sanjo gayageum, gayageum for Sanjo music was used for folk musical. Sanjo gayageum is smaller than jeongak gayageum.

 산조 가야금 sanjo gayageum

Gayageum applied in fusion genre

This instrument usually play by female because the cleary and gracefully sound from gayageum is represent as a woman. Gayageum can be played solo or ensemble.

거문고 Geomungo

Geomungo is a six-stringed zither with sixteen fixed frets and three movable bridges. It is also made from paulownia and chestnut wood same as gayageum material. The six silk strings are also have different thicknesses. The geomungo player plucks strings on the resonance chamber of a long flat wooden box with a short thin bar called suldae. Suldae is made from hard bamboo. Geomungo can create deep, wild and fierce sound that gayageum can not make. 


Because of the sound character, geomungo usually related with masculinity. This instrument is recognized as a native Korean instruments which has been found in wall paintings of the tombs from The Goguryeo Dynasty. 


This Korean instruments was played in all literati ensembles and retains a prominent position in many court pieces, now it is used for solo and ensemble.

아쟁 Ajaeng

Ajaeng is an eight-stringed zither, bowed with a forsythia stick. It is one of two bowed Korean traditional instruments besides 해금 haegeum. It was usually used in court music. 

 Players sit behind the ajaeng and bow close to the top of each string, the fingers of the left hand adding ornamentation beyong the bridges.

해금 Haegeum

해금 is a two-string bowed Korean musical instruments and there are only two types of Korean bowed instruments. 해금 contains a bamboo resonator and neck, wooden pegs, rosin, a metal base plate, silk strings a gourd bridge leather of bow and a coating of crushed stone inside the resonator.

Korean lullaby  played with 해금

lyrics :

엄마가 섬그늘에
따려 가면
아기가 혼자 남아 집을 보다가
바다가 불러주는 자랑 노래에 팔베고
스르르르 잠이 듭니다.

해금 has a neck with two tuning pegs. The neck passes through a tubular resonator of bamboo or hardwood at its base. A wooden soundboard is glued to the front of the resonator and a small bridge stresses two twisted silk strings over this soundboard. A horsehair bow passes between the two strings. It is attached by a metal cap to one end of a flexible bamboo shaft. Rosin needs to be applied regularly to the bow, working it in both directions while keeping the bow tightly streched , to increase friction on the strings. The position of the bridge controls the sound. It should be placed between the top edge of the soundboard and its center point. When placed near the top, a thin sound is produced, suitable for small ensemble and for accompanying singers in lyric songs. With the bridge placed a little above the center point, the haegeum produces a rounder more piercing sound, ideal for large ensemble and solo pieces. 
Haegeum was used in various kinds of music such as royal ancestral rites, parades, festivals, and hyangak (Korean music).

양금 Yanggeum

양금 or Korean dulcimer literally means western zither because it was brought from Europe to Korea through China. 양금 was also called Guracheolsageum has a clearly beautiful sound with fourteen quadruple metal strings are streched over and under two bridges.

Bibliography :
A Introduction to Korean Traditional Performing Arts.
An Illustrated Guide to Korean Culture.

Photos :
Korean Traditional Musical Instruments Exhibition, Korean Cultural Center Jakarta. Photographer and digital editing by Maria Margareta.

Video credits on Youtube :
Koart 국악 동영상 [성금연류 가야금산조-지성자].flv uploaded by koartny80
정민아 - 무엇이 되어 (Jung Min A - Whatever we become) uploaded by sonicscapee
The harp from Korea uploaded by ExploringKorea
정중동 (Movement on Silence) by geomungofactory uploaded by kindheartedgeomungo
Gu(old) Arirang - Seola. Kim uploaded by TheAjaeng
국악_대지의꽃 아쟁산조_백인영[국악방송 영상](HD)] uploaded by wagel78
조혜령 해금-취타풍류 uploaded by haegum100
해금 조혜령 - 섬집아기 (SumJip-AhYi) Korean Lullaby uploaded by SuperTheseus
Doraji Arirang - 해금 조혜령 & KBS Symphony Orchestra uploaded by SuperTheseus
양금3중주 장군별 uploaded by uriminzokkiri
국악_수요남극_국악방송 uploaded by wagel78

1 comment:

  1. I have seen your whole post regarding Korean Traditional Musical Instruments. In this post describe different types of Korean and Chinese such as ajaeng, Chordophones, gayageum and many more.