The Best of Korean Music Instrumentals

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


From the traditional to the modern, these are the best of Korean music instrumentals.

Traditional Instruments

Korean music has a wide variety of traditional instruments. The most common and well known of these is probably the gayageum (a twelve-string zither), but there are many others that are used in different combinations to create different sounds. Some of these other instruments include the geomungo (a six-string zither), the haegeum (a two-string fiddle), the aJAeng (a bowed zither), and the daegeum (a large transverse flute).


The gayageum (가야금), sometimes called a 12-string zither, is a Korean traditional instrument with 12 silk strings. It is the oldest known string instrument in Korea and one of the ancestors of the Japanese koto. The gayageum is about 125 cm (49 inches) long and 30 cm (12 inches) wide, with 12 strings tuned in pentatonic fashion. The tuning varies depending on the particular composition being played and may use quarter-tone intervals. The instrument has two soundboards, which are traditionally made of paulownia wood.

The gayageum is believed to have originated in China during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). It first appeared in Korea during the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 BCE – 668 CE) and quickly became popular among the aristocracy. By the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), it was considered an essential part of court music. After the fall of Joseon, however, it was largely forgotten until it was rediscovered by folk musicians in the 1960s.

Today, the gayageum is enjoying a resurgence in popularity both in Korea and abroad. A wide range of music has been composed for it, from traditional court music to contemporary pop songs. It can be played solo or as part of an ensemble, making it a versatile and popular instrument for all kinds of music lovers.


The geomungo is a traditional Korean musical instrument that dates back to the 7th century. It is a six-stringed zither that is played with a wooden stick. The geomungo is often used in court music and Buddhist music.


The haegeum is a traditional Korean musical instrument that dates back to the Joseon Dynasty. It is a string instrument that is played with a bow, and it has a distinctive sound that is often compared to the Chinese erhu or the Japanese shamisen. The haegeum is used in a variety of genres, including folk music, traditional Korean music, and even pop music.

Modern Instruments

When it comes to modern music, it’s hard to find a country more influential than South Korea. From rap and pop to EDM and hip-hop, Korea has made its mark on the music industry. A big part of Korea’s music scene is the instrumentals. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best modern Korean music instrumentals.


The guitar is a popular musical instrument that has a long history and has been used in a variety of genres, including rock, country, blues, and jazz. There are a variety of different types of guitars, including acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars. Guitars can be played solo or in a band setting.


Piano is a popular instrument among Korean music lovers. There are many different types of pianos, each with its own unique sound. upright pianos, grand pianos, and digital pianos are all popular choices.

Upright pianos are the most common type of piano in Korea. They are smaller than grand pianos and have a more compact sound. Upright pianos are a good choice for beginners or those who don’t have a lot of space in their home for a piano.

Grand pianos are the largest type of piano and have the richest sound. They are more expensive than other types of pianos and require more space. Grand pianos are a good choice for those who have the space and budget for one.

Digital pianos are becoming increasingly popular in Korea. They offer many of the same features as grand pianos, but are more affordable and take up less space. Digital pianos are a good choice for those who want the sound of a grand piano without the price tag or the size.


The drum is one of the oldest instruments in the world and is still used extensively in Korean music. Drums come in all shapes and sizes, from small handheld drums to large bass drums. The most common drum used in Korean music is the buk, a barrel-shaped drum that is struck with a stick. Other popular drums include the janggu, ahourglass-shaped drum played with two sticks, and the taepyeongso, an oboe-like instrument that is also played with two sticks.

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