Ektara

Name: Ektara.
Type: Monochord > Chordophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#:
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.
Dimensions: Length cm.
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Country: Rajasthan, India.
Region: South Asia.
Acquisition Source: Ian MacKenzie trip to Rajasthan India.

Description: Ektara [in Hindi: एकतारा, Bengali: একতারা, Punjabi: ਇਕ ਤਾਰਾ; literally [“one-string”, also called iktar, ektar, yaktaro, gopichand, gopichant, gopijiantra, tun tuna]. This instrument is played in Bengal, Orissa and in Rajasthan. It is also played in neighbouring pakistan.

History: The ektara was a regularly played stringed instrument of the wondering bards and minstrels from India. Ektara are commonly used in kirtan chanting, a form of Hindu devotional singing of divine names and mantras in an ecstatic call and response format. Ektaras are played by Sadhus who are wandering holy men and for sufi chanting as well as the Baul’s of Bengal.

Techniques: The ektara is played by balancing the instrument from the handle downwards by the thumb and pointy finger of the left hand. The right hand provides the plucking.  The ektara was a regular string instrument of wandering bards and minstrels from India and is plucked with one finger.

Construction: The ektara is constructed from a gourd affixed with a flexible membrane, flexible neck made from bamboo thats split in parallel so it could be attached to the gourd, a tuning peg and single string. The neck is carved from a single piece of bamboo where the string is attached from gourd to tuning peg.

Citations: Stanley Sadie – New Grove Dictionary Of Musical Instruments, page 68 Gopiyantra [ektara]. C. Sachs Die Musikinstrumente Indiens and Indonesians [Berlin, Leipzig 1914, 2nd print 1923]. B.C. Deva: Musical Instruments of India [Calcutta, 1973].