was supposedly invented by King Kasil
on the model of the Chinese zheng, can be traced back to 551 A.D. when a refugee
from the state of Kaya, fearing annexation, fled to Silla and
presented the king with the kayagûm, Kaya's new
instrument. Evidently the refugee, U Ruk, was a well known composer
in Kaya. According to the story, he played eleven pieces of his
own composition based on Kayan folk melodies for his hosts which
were denounced 'inelegant and improper.' Three Silla musicians
Popchi, Kyego, and Mandok rewrote the pieces which not only eventually
pleased the composer, but earned the praise "great music"
from the King Chinhung. This offering ensured the survival of
the instrument which was later transmitted to Japan in the form
of the koto.
There are two types of kayagûm:
the court kayagûm, and the sanjo
kayagûm. The court kayagûm
is characterized by its larger size and "rams horns"
at the far end of the instrument. It is similar to the kayagûm
U Ruk brought to Silla. The sanjo kayagûm was developed
around 100 to 150 years ago with the development of sanjo
itself. The closer spacing of the strings and the shorter length
of the sanjo kayagûm facilitates the faster passages
of sanjo and pyongch'ang. Both instruments have 12 strings of silk stretched
over 12 movable bridges. The top end of the instrument rests
on the performer's right knee as he or she sits in a cross legged
position. Sounds are made by plucking and flicking the strings
with the fingers of the right hand while using the left hand
to press down on the strings to the left of the movable bridges.
Much of the repertoire of new music for the kayagûm
utilizes the sanjo kayagûm, but kayagûm
such as the North Korean
kayagum, with more strings made
of different materials such as metal and tetron have also been
developed to add range, sound color, and volume to the treasury
of kayagûm sound.
To play a virtual Kayagûm, click
To listen to kayagum sanjo, kayagum
pyongch'ang (byong-ch'ang), or sinawi (si-na-we) with
RealPlayer see the home page of Youngseen