Ektara

ek-tah-rah
The ektara is a stringed instrument originating from India that has just one string, a bamboo neck and gourd-like resonator body. This ancient instrument produces a drone that can be modified in pitch by using another hand on the neck. It is typically plucked but some players have been known to use a bow.
History of the Ektara
The earliest known recorded history of the ektara dates back to the 15th century and the Bauls of Bengal who would use the ektara as a accompaniment to singing, dancing and folk song. These wandering minstrels were unlikely to be the first users of the ektara as this simple instrument has an ancient past when it was probably made from gourd-like fruit such as coconuts and bamboo sticks. 4th and 5th century cave drawings seem to depict a one-string instrument being used in religious ceremonies in these parts of Asia. Ekatara quite literally means one string (“eka” and “tara”) in Sanskrit which makes this instrument fundamentally simple and limited. The ektara has a storied history in South Asia and India but has not been popularised worldwide unlike the sitar and sarod. The traditional and religious uses of the ektara in India are still prevalent today.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

£35 - £80

Hear the Ektara

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How to Play

A traditional Indian stringed instrument played with one hand strumming the single string while the other hand adjusts the tension to change the pitch. It's often used in devotional music and has a distinctive sound.

In Popular Music

The ektara is a staple of Bollywood films given its indian heritage and can be heard in the background of soundtrack songs like 'Ik Bagal Mein' from the 2012 film 'Gangs of Wasseypur'. The ektara may have also been featured for texture on recordings like 'Within You Without You' by The Beatles, given Ravi Shankar's influence on George Harrison.

Famous Players

Baul Shofi Mondol, Paban Das Baul

Close Relations

Dotara, Rabab
Video Credit: WildFilmsIndia
Understanding the Ektara
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Small

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India/Bangladesh

Country

Unknown

Year

Strings

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