Name: Domra.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Russian Federation.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The domra [in Russian: домра domra] is a long-necked Russian folk string instrument of the lute family with a round body and three or four metal strings. In 1896, a student of Vasily Vasilievich Andreyev found a broken instrument in a stable in rural Russia. It was thought that this instrument may have been an example of a domra.

Although no illustrations or examples of the traditional domra were known to exist in Russian chronicles, the traditional domra was only known through numerous mentions in folklore. Though examples of a related Turkic instrument, the dombra, existed.

A three-stringed version of this instrument was later redesigned in 1896, patented, and introduced into the orchestra of Russian folk instruments. In recent times, scholars have come to the conclusion that the term “domra” actually described a percussive instrument popular in Russia.

The discovered instrument was either a variant of the balalaika or a mandolin. Today, it is the three-stringed domra that is used almost exclusively in Russia. It is played with a plectrum, and is often used to play the lead melody in Russian balalaika ensembles.

Tunings: Typically domras are tuned in fourths the prima domra being E A D. Later, a four stringed version was developed employing a violin tuning G D A E by Moscow instrument maker, Liubimov, in 1905.

Domra Tunings
Names Scale Length Cm / Inch Tuning
Piccolo 40 Cm / 15.7 In B E A
Prima / First   63 cm / 24.8 In E A D
Alto  78 cm / 30.7 In E A D
Tenor 85 cm / 33.4 In B E A
Bass 120 cm / 47.2 In E A D


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