The gayageum was first developed around the sixth century, based on a Chinese instrument called the Guzheng.It was then improved on during the Silla period.

The gayageum has several other names as well, including beopgeum, pungnyu, and jeong-ak. The instrument is mainly played in court music, chamber music, and accompianment of lyrical songs.

    The gayageum is a traditional Korean string instrument with 12 strings. Modern day gayageums, however, have 13, 17, 18, 21, 22, or 25 strings.

The gayageumgayageumvaries in size from 142 cm wide, 23 cm broad, and 10 cm high, to 160cm wide by 30cm broad by 10cm high. Its body is made from a single block of paulownia wood.

On the soundboard, moveable bridges support the strings, which can be moved to adjust the tuning. The strings are placed on top of the body and underneath them are the tuning pegs.

The strings used to be made out of silk, but in modern days, they are made out of nylon wrapped steel strings. Brass strings can also be used to provide a louder sound.


    To play the gayageum, the player presses on the strings with their left hand while the right hand strums the strings. The player's fingers can shake, bend, and vibrate the strings to produce different sounds.
The player sits on the floor with the instrument on their laps in order to play. Their hands are spread across the gayageum so that they can reach all 12 strings.