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Domra is a Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian folk stringed plucked musical instrument.

Domra is a Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian folk stringed plucked musical instrument. Domra has a hemispherical body. The sound of the strings is produced using a mediator. A characteristic technique of sound extraction is tremolo. There are two types of domras: the three-string domra with a quart system, traditionally used in Russia, and the four-string domra with a quint system, which has become most widespread in Belarus and Ukraine. Domra is used for solo performance (domra malaya, prima) and as part of ensembles and orchestras of Russian folk instruments.

Domra was widely used by buffoons in Russia in the XVI-XVII centuries as a solo and ensemble instrument, but since the XVII century, after the release of a number of church and state decrees (one of them in 1648 by Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich "On the correction of morals and the destruction of superstitions"), according to which buffoonery was persecuted, the instrument was not used. With the disappearance of the buffoons, Domra also disappeared.

The domra acquired its modern appearance in 1896, after the reconstruction of the balalaika by V.V. Andreev. On the basis of this instrument, in 1896-1898, master artists F.S. Paserbsky, S.I. Nalimov, N.P. Fomin, P.P. Karkin, created a family of orchestral domras, which became the basis of the Great Russian Orchestra Andreeva. In 1908, at the initiative of conductor G.P. Lyubimov, together with master S.F. Burov, a group of four-string domras was developed. For the first time stringed instruments with a fingerboard in the repertoire of the ancient Rus are mentioned in the "Book of Precious Necklaces" by Ibn Rust at the beginning of the X century. The author calls them lutes and tunburs, but whether these instruments were domras is unknown. Also, Al-Farabi mentions a stringed fingerboard among Russians, he describes it as follows: a small body, a narrow neck with frets imposed on it, two or three strings attached from the bottom of the body to a special leg and stretched on pegs through a stand. At the court of Sophia Palaiologos, lutenists were imported from Europe as court musicians, which could affect the appearance/modification of domra among buffoons who tried to copy/modify the European lute.

The domra became most widespread in the XVI-XVII centuries among buffoons, as a solo and ensemble instrument. It is this time that most of the mentions of domra date from. The earliest written mention of domra is found in the "Teaching of Metropolitan Daniel":

"Now the essence is not from the sacred, I am these presbyteries and deacons, and subdeacons, and chetzi and singers, mocking, playing harps, domras, smyks..."

To expand the range of domra, attempts were made to improve it constructively. In 1908, at the suggestion of conductor G. Lyubimov, master S. Burov created a four-stringed domra, with a fifth system, and it was called the prima domra. "Prima" received a violin range, had its own deep coloristic timbre. Subsequently, its ensemble varieties and the orchestra of four-string domras also appeared.

Now the instrument is popular in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and abroad, many concert and chamber works have been written for it, arrangements have been created, in particular, of violin works.


At the suggestion of conductor G. Lyubimov , a four - string domra was created with master S. Burov
The modern look of the domra was acquired after reconstruction
The most widespread in the XVI-XVII centuries
The first mention in the "Book of precious necklaces" by Ibn Rust at the beginning of the X century.

Further reading


Documentaries, videos and podcasts


Caprice for domra solo "In the rays of the rising sun".

September 10, 2019

DESPACITO - domra version

June 22, 2020

Domra - Variations on the gypsy melody "Mardyandya"

November 21, 2016

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