Ektara, a String Instrument of Wandering Bards and Minstrels from India

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Ektara

Ektara ; literally "one-string", also called iktar, ektar, yaktaro gopichand is a one-string instrument most often used in traditional music from Bangladesh, India, Egypt, and Pakistan.

In origin the ektara was a regular string instrument of wandering bards and minstrels from India and is plucked with one finger. The ektara usually has a stretched single string, an animal skin over a head (made of dried pumpkin/gourd, wood or coconut) and pole neck or split bamboo cane neck.

Pressing the two halves of the neck together loosens the string, thus lowering its pitch. The modulation of the tone with each slight flexing of the neck gives the ektara its distinctive sound. There are no markings or measurements to indicate what pressure will produce what note, so the pressure is adjusted by ear.

The various sizes of Ektara are soprano, tenor, and bass. The bass ektara, sometimes called a dotara often has two strings (as literally implied by do, "two").

In Sindhi and Punjabi folk music

Nowadays the ektara is widely used by folk singers especially by Sufi singers in Punjab and Sindh. Traditional and modern forms of bhangra sometimes use an ektara or tumbi to accompany the singer and dhol. On the occasion of "Urs" held in memory of the renowned saint and mystic poet Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai (1689 - 1752) at Bhitshah, near Hyderabad in Sindh, held every year between 13th and 15th of Safar, devotees sing with fervor and frenzy his love-intoxicated Kafis to the strains of ektara which appears to be a very ancient musical instrument. Mention may also be made here of the Dotar of Khorasan. Nur-Mohammad Dorpur is a fampous traditional Dotar player from the Khorasan region. The renowned Kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor who has performed at the famous 'Hollywood Bowl' in Los Angeles, also stresses the commonalities between the Indian and Persian musical traditions which are brought to a focus by instruments such as the...
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