Today, we’re looking at a very talented Korean musician named Luna Lee, who I came across on Andrea Huelsenbeck’s weekly Creative Juice feature. Lee plays a traditional gayageum, a 12-stringed Korean instrument. While the zither-like instrument is historically used for more traditional Korean music, this young artist is turning tradition on its head, using a gayageum to reinterpret popular music. It may sound like it would be weird, but honestly, the effect is nothing short of mesmerizing. Lee’s YouTube channel has had 35 million views, so I’m clearly very late to discover her music, but better late than never.
Though she explores many kinds of popular music, it’s Lee’s rock interpretations that most struck me. She sometimes records multiple tracks and plays all the parts, and sometimes plays along with the original recording, but they’re all fantastic. I was also interested to learn that to play rock music, Lee made alterations to the traditional instrument, lengthening its body and using thinner strings. The resulting instrument gives her more control and makes the instrument a little better suited to Western music.