Sound of Korean traditional musical instruments

2020

One of the highlights from my trip to Korea was the lesson on how to play a gayageum. Gayageum is a Korean traditional string instrument (zither), similar to the Chinese guzheng and the Japanese koto. Back then I very much liked the specific timbre of the sound, the style of playing using bends, and the fast melodic riffs performed by our teachers. That day I learned nothing but the traditional melody called Arirang; however, my interest in the instruments remained.

This project was an opportunity to explore the Korean traditional instruments in more details, become familiar with Javascript which has been of my interest for a long time, and practice my graphic design skills. So I developed the website from scratch using vanilla JS, and came up with the set of minimalistic instrument icons.

Apart from gayageum, there are plenty of interesting instruments that have appeared in Korean culture through the ages, and the website allows a user to hear how they sound, as well as to learn the appearance of the instruments. I tried to symbolize the sound of each instrument using watercolor shapes. For example, the sound of the janggo reminded me of the sound of raindrops, the melancholic sound of haegeum was associated with sharp autumnal leaves, and so on.

The quiz

To examine whether a user could recognize the sound of each instrument, I made a quiz where one should guess the instrument by its sound. For the quiz, I designed a set of less detailed icons to make the quiz more difficult.