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date: 14 November 2019

Dotārā [dutara, duitārā]locked

  • Alastair Dick

Extract

[dutara, duitārā]

Long-necked, fretless lute of Bengal (India and Bangladesh) and other northeastern Indian states (Assam, Manipur, Tripura, etc.). The name, like the West and Central Asian dutār, means ‘two-stringed’ (there are usually four or more), but these lutes are of a different type: their construction—typically using a single piece of neem or similar hardwood, with a skin soundtable and an open, bilateral pegbox often surmounted by a bird or animal motif—suggests an extension of the Central Asian rubāb (Pamir, Kashgar) type and the Himalayan sgra-snyan and arbajo into this eastern sub-Himalayan region.

The modern dotārā of Bengali folk music is made of wood and about 75 cm long. The resonator can be rounded, pear shaped, or rectangular with rounded corners; a common type is pear shaped but waisted at the front, giving the shape of an inverted barb to the lower bout. The soundtable, of goatskin, carries a small wooden or bone bridge, which is held down by the strings on the lower half of the skin. The four strings are of steel and brass, and the melody is played mainly on the first two, tuned a 4th apart; some dotārā have thin metal sympathetic strings running from pegs on the right side of the neck. There is a wood or metal inferior string holder and on the slender tapering neck a smooth wooden fingerboard on which the stopping left-hand fingers can slide for portamento. Many modern dotārā have a fingerboard of chromed metal (imitating the urban ...

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