Geomungo Factory

(South Korea)

Geomungo Factory’s music is defined by South Korean tradition, but although the instruments played by this quartet can be traced back to the 4th Century, their music fits quite comfortably in the 21st. Their main instrument is the geomungo (pronounced ko-mungo) zither. It is a long plank-like instrument with 16 frets, three moveable bridges and six silk strings that are bowed, hit with a short stick or plucked. The members of the band say, “You can’t make innovations if you don’t know the tradition.” And, in the same way the band bends tradition with their music, they also tinker with their ancient instruments by adding newer versions including a cello geomungo as well as an electric one complete with wah-wah pedal. Three women and one man sit on the floor with their geomungos across their laps and coax a variety of sounds out of them; sometimes ethereal, dreamy and melodic, sometimes percussive and primeval, with additional hints of blues, prog-rock and western classical music. The results simultaneously evoke ancient civilizations and urban street corners. For Geomungo Factory, respecting tradition and embracing experimentation are not mutually exclusive concepts. Their enthusiasm for both is exciting and contagious.



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