Ajaeng: A Korean Musical Instrument

Would you like know about Ajeang, a Korean Musical Instrument? This article will provide information on what Ajaeng is, some historical background, and how to play this instrument.

Every tradition has a set of it’s own musical instruments. If you love traditional instruments like me, you will love to know more about Ajaeng and if you are looking for an instrument to buy, this is the right place for you.

What Is Ajaeng?

Are you fond of discovering new things in music? Personally, it’s my hobby to learn about instruments and their origins. When I was doing my research I came across this instrument and decided to find more information about it. Well, ‘Ajaeng’ is one of the Korean Musical instrument which has its background in China.

Being a stringed instrument, Ajaeng’s seven strings are the source sound. It has a body of about 160 cm (62 inches) long and 25 cm (10 inches) wide. Ajaeng is made of paulownia wood and it’s bowed in shape.

A Korean Musical Instrument

The ajaeng’s strings is made up of twisted silk which is supported by separate movable bridges. Ajaeng is played with a bow which is 65 cm (25 inches) long and is fashioned from a hardened pine resin peeled forsythia branch.

Read More: How To Buy Musical Instruments

How to Play This Korean Musical Instrument

The best posture to play ajaeng is while sitting flat on the floor. This instrument is played by a slender stick made of forsythia wood which is scraped against the strings to produce sound.

The instrument is placed in a transverse position on the floor and supported on its bowed end by a stand. The instrumentalist sits on the floor behind it and moves the bow over the strings to the right side of the bridges.

On the left hand, the player makes different pitches and vibrato by pressing the strings on the other side of the bridges. Typically, ajaeng’s tone is hoarse, and its melodies are highly pronounced and meaningful.

History and Background

The ajaeng is originally a Chinese instrument which came to Korea during the Koryŏ dynasty in 918–1392. Historically, it was actually derived from the Chinese yazheng before it was adopted as a Korean musical instrument.

Commonly, ajaeng is paired with the haegŭm and it plays the traditional Korean court music of both the Chinese-derived (tang-ak) and the Korean (hyang-ak) styles. This was the older version which had seven strings and it had a typical pentatonic tuning.

The modern ajaeng sanjo is a little smaller, about 120 cm (47 inches) long, and it has eight strings. The ajaeng sanjo version is used for a variety of music genres. These include sanjo virtuosic solo music, folk songs, and shaman ensembles among others.

Today we still have ajaeng which has up 9 strings in total.

Listen to Ajaeng Sanzo performed by YoungHo Shu

In Conclusion

We have discussed about Ajaeng, a Korean Musical Instrument. It’s a stringed instrument so it’s in the same class with both acoustic and electric guitars. It’s interesting to learn how to play ajaeng.

We have looked at some background of this instrument and found out that ajaeng originated from China.

Paul Mbaluka

My name is Paul, a born again, self motivated person. I love to transform people's lives in whatever through empowering and training them. Music is in my blood systems and therefore anything pertaining music is a key to my heart.