Taegum (flute), with carry case, plastic / vinyl / elastic, maker unknown, Korea, c. 2003
The Taegum is one of the most popular of the Korean wind instruments. Legend states that its origins are very old and connects it with a story giving it the name "the flute to calm 100 million waves". It is the only Korean flute with a hole covered with a membrane. This causes a buzzing sound and can be adjusted to vary the tonal character of the instrument.
Traditionally the Taegum is made from a piece of bamboo (see Powerhouse Museum object number 2000/104/4). This instrument by contrast is made using alternative materials, and in this case, plastic. The use of plastics for musical instruments has been widely used throughout Europe, the USA and Japan for instruments associated with western music traditions. Ebonite is known to have been used from the late nineteenth century for flutes (see Powerhouse Museum object number 2002/67/1) and Bakelite and Styron was used for instruments such as banjos, flutes, clarinets, guitars (Powerhouse Museum object number H5315) and accordions. Today plastic is widely used for a variety of instruments such as recorders and keyboards. It is less common to find traditional instruments being made from alternative modern materials such as plastic, which makes this Taegum of particular interest given the degree of detail that has gone into its design, complete with nodal marks similar to those found in a natural piece of bamboo. Alternative materials used for musical instruments are an interesting departure from traditional uses and also effects traditional ways of manufacturing those instruments. This instrument is significant in the Museum's collection of alternative technologies and joins a group of musical instruments in the collection showing departures from traditional design and manufacture and being made from a range of alternative materials.
Keith Howard, Korean Musical Instruments, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995
Traditional Musical Instruments, Korean Heritage Series No.11, p.10 Korean Overseas Information Services, Republic of Korea, ISBN 89-7375-371-1 03910
Robert C Provine, Taegum in The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, Stanley Sadie (ed.), Macmillan, London, 1984.
The Taegum is a transverse flute used in ensembles and as a solo instrument. In ensembles it sets the correct pitch for the other instruments to tune to. Its playing technique includes use of a distinctive vibrato. It is used in both court music and folk music. It is also called a cho or chottae.