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Luna Lee rocks Jimi Hendrix with ancient 6th century Korean string instrument
She takes the serenity of the gayageum and mixes it with the hard edge of classic rock!
Danielle Majeika
12.15.20

Music carries a legacy with it.

When music is made, it matters in the very moment that it’s made in. But music also endures far beyond that and well into time. There are plenty of musicians who have successfully left an imprint on the world and who continue to inspire. It’s in those very footsteps that new and budding musicians walk. For some, the inspiration is so great that they’re moved to preserve what was so originally moving.

Take musician Luna Lee, for example. She’s carrying on a very unique and important legacy in her musical path.

Instagram/Luna Lee
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Instagram/Luna Lee

Hailing from Seoul, South Korea, Lee is mixing a centuries-old, ancient Korean instrument with the music of classic rock legends.

Instagram/Luna Lee
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Instagram/Luna Lee

Her instrument is called a gayageum—it’s a box-like string instrument that dates back to 400 B.C.

YouTube/Luna Lee
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YouTube/Luna Lee

The gayageum is a twelve-string quiet instrument with an intricate and beautiful sound.

It was originally made to play in a small room during intimate gatherings. It’s related to the Chinese guzheng, Japanese koto and Vietnamese đàn tranh. Lee loved the instrument from a young age, but found it wasteful to reserve such a sound just for traditional music.

Lee has been playing the gayageum since she was eleven.

Instagram/Luna Lee
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Instagram/Luna Lee

She remembers coming home after school as a teenager and experimenting with non-traditional music on the instrument.

Her heart was in it so much that she turned her university studies to the gayageum and majored in it.

But she was ready to give it a twist, devoting her mastery to a brilliant crossover of ancient and modern.

Instagram/Luna Lee
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Instagram/Luna Lee

Lee was partially concerned that her traditional teachers would shy away from her blues-rock take on such a serene instrument.

“I was worried about it a little bit because my teachers and seniors majored in traditional music. They could see me and [think it’s] the wrong music. But most of them are very supportive about my music.”

Lee’s repertoire features covers from Jimi Hendrix, Queen, Nirvana, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and other rock masters.

Instagram/Luna Lee
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Instagram/Luna Lee

She revealed in an interview with SXSW:

“If I didn’t enjoy it I would give it up, but once I find a new tone I’m thrilled,” she said. When Lee covers a song, she says she doesn’t just cover the music but also interprets what she imagines the musician feels when performing. “I can feel the mood of each song.”

Just take her cover of “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix, for example.

YouTube/Luna Lee
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YouTube/Luna Lee

Since being posted on YouTube, it’s garnered over five million views and 67,000 likes. Viewers are completely smitten and enamored with her instrument and style!

YouTube/Luna Lee
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YouTube/Luna Lee

One watch and you’ll notice that there’s an incredible grace with the way she plays, even when playing hard rock songs.

She handles the intimate instrument like a true rock star—one could say it’s just as intriguing to watch her play it as it is to listen to her covers!

Lee’s contemporary take on an ancient Korean tradition has gained her a quickly-growing YouTube channel full of enticed fans.

YouTube/Luna Lee
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YouTube/Luna Lee

Her YouTube popularity has spurred much debate and inspiration from young fans wondering how she came to pursue such a musical path.

Lee admits that she feels a duty “to pass on knowledge to the next generation.”

One thing is for certain: the way she handles Jimi Hendrix in this video would make him very proud!

YouTube/Luna Lee
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YouTube/Luna Lee

Check it out for yourself in the video linked below and be sure to follow Luna Lee across social media.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

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By Danielle Majeika
hi@sbly.com
Danielle Majeika is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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