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date: 20 February 2020


  • Robert C. Provine


Bowed long zither of Korea. Two main versions are in current use: the ajaeng, which has been a member of court music ensembles for many centuries, and the smaller sanjo ajaeng, invented in the 1940s and used for folk music and accompaniments.

The older version is about 160 cm long and 24 cm wide, has seven strings of twisted silk and is bowed with a long (65 cm) resined stick of forsythia wood. The instrument itself is made of paulownia wood and is played propped up at the bowing end (performer’s right) on a small four-legged stand. The strings run from a gently curved bridge on the right across seven small movable wooden bridges (‘wild-goose feet’) to another curved bridge on the left; the sounding length, from the right bridge to the movable bridge, is different for each string and readily adjustable for tuning purposes. The ajaeng has the narrowest range of the Korean string instruments: in court music it normally operates within a 9th or 10th, a typical tuning being ...

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