PhotoPhoto Essay
Always In Our SoulGayageum, following the pathway from its beginning to its end
Lee Hyuk-joon  |
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승인 2009.02.26  16:33:30
트위터 페이스북 구글 카카오스토리

THE GAYAGEUM'S Harmony has touched our hearts for a thousand years. It has a history, calculated back to the ancient Silla dynasty over 1,000 years. The gayageum's voice has the power to stir our tears and also bring a smile to our faces. For it to stand this high, there is a secret that lies behind its progress. The gayageum is not an instrument that can just be made in a single day. As we take one step closer to the gayageum, it looked like the birth of a child as it breathes the way we breathe.    


Chestnut and Paulowina trees are used to make the gayageum because these trees have the capability to resist insects and contain little moisture. Thirty to fifty year old Paulowina trees are dried in the woods to remove their resin, which enables the gayageum to make its dazzling sound.


   Trees in the woods and old wooden boards were once brothers, but now have their own different paths to take. Trees in the woods will continue growing in order to enrich our soil; old wooden boards will be lovingly masterfully shaped into the gayageum as to enrich our hollow hearts. After a hundred years they will return to nature.


   As the orange light comes in through the windows, the machines are taking a beautiful daylight nap, escaping from the exhausting hours of cutting boards. Nothing will bother; and nothing will disturb their nap; not until "2:00pm". The time when people have no time to look around themselves because of the furious workload, silent machines are roaring up and their sounds indicate it is time to get back to work.

   Panning the wooden boards is the halfway step necessary to complete the gayageum. Not a slight quiver is allowed during this process, it is the core step that definitively decides the gayageum's important feature: its sympathetic sound. Obtaining an adequate different thickness through the craftsman's panning, the gayageum's clear sound can resonate and flow.

   Finally, the gayageum is acquiring its beautiful black cloth. Furthermore, by burning the outside board of the gayageum, it will remove the residual resin from the wooden board. The man’s hand, arm, and rest of his body are surrounded by flames so we should never go near. After this massive endurance, the flame will protect the gayageum for a long time from the busy sound of the outside world.

   The last step in the birth of the gayageum is arranging the strings. Five shining traditional colors can be seen. It looks like a crane brooding on an egg. It took many painstaking years to hear its beautiful sound.


   We live in a complicated society where people shout out fast and faster. From the gayageum we can learn patience, and also that beautiful melodical results cannot be produced a tiny step but only with great effort and meditation.

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