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Xinjiang Kazakh Musical Instrument – Dombra


Dombra is a pear shaped long necked lute of the Kazakh people of Central Asia. It belongs to the family of two-stringed lutes that are widespread in Central Asia. 

musical instruments


Dombra in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, is also referred Dambura or Danbura in northern Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, Dumbura in Bashkir and Tatar, Dombor in Mongolia, Dombra in Kazakhstan, Dombira Xinjiang China. The name arises from the Persian Tanbur Instrument shares some of its characteristics with the Turkic Komuz. The Dutar of Turkmenistan is also closely related.


The instrument consists of a rectangular or oval body usually hewn out of a single piece of wood, covered by a wooden soundboard, with a long, slender neck. It is usually unfretted, although modern versions of the instrument have added frets set at chromatic intervals. Dombra is strung by a single gut, or nylon string, which passes from a wooden tuning peg at the end of the neck, looped around a pin at the base of the body and up to a second peg to make two tunable strings.


Dombra is played without a plectrum and is strummed quite rapidly with the index finger, or with the index finger and thumb. Typically Dombra music alternates between double and triple rhythms and has a general emphasis on fourths and fifths as basic structural intervals, with the widespread use of melody plus drone. 

musical instruments


The instrument differs slightly in different regions. The Kazakh Dombra has frets and is played by strumming with the hand or plucking each string individually, with an occasional tap on the main surface of the instrument. While the strings are traditionally made of sinew, modern Dombra are usually produced using nylon strings.

The Turkestani and Badachstan Dambura are fretless with a body and neck carved from a single block of wood, usually mulberry or apricot. Dambura is played with much banging and scratching on the instrument to help give a percussive sound. The two strings are made of nylon or gut. They cross a short bridge to a pin at the other end of the body. There is a tiny sound hole in the back of the instrument, while the top is thick wood. It is not finished with any varnish and filing of any kind, and as with all other Afghan instruments there is some decoration.

Dumbura is the equivalent instrument of the Tatars and Bashkirs. A performer strikes all the strings at the same time. The upper string performs the bourdon tone and the lower string performs the melody. Dumbura is used as a solo as well as an ensemble instrument.

musical instruments

Dombra especially associated with pastoral nomadic peoples and was traditionally used to play dance tunes, solo programmatic pieces, or to accompany songs and epic tales. The Kazakh poet Abay Qunanbayuli is often shown holding a Dombra at rest and many hold it in high regard as a symbol of nationalism among the post-Soviet nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States. But now virtuosic instrumental pieces are also common. As a result, Dombra has become a popular instrument with non-Kazakh peoples throughout Central Asia, Russia and Dombra clubs in the United States.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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