The origin of Central Asian musical instruments with its roots goes back to antiquity. Pictures of instruments on stone reliefs and small plastic, objects of art, wall paintings indicate that the main centers of music culture were Sogd and Bactria. Mediaeval miniature and classical poetry of the East also provide extensive information about the basic types of instruments that existed at that time, and still exist in Central Asia, including Uzbekistan. While you’re traveling around Uzbekistan, you will have a unique opportunity to listen and enjoy the wonderful play on dutar.
History of dutar
An ancient Persian instrument from the family of tunburs, widely distributed among Chinese Uighurs, in Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan - is dutar or dutor.
The first evidence of the instrument appeared in the 15th century, among which the statuette "itinerant musicians Bakhshi" and the manuscript Toprak-Kala were. They were found by the archeologists in the excavations of the ancient Persian city Merv (Mary). The manuscript contains the image of a girl playing the dutar. Dutar formed from the Horosan variety of the ancient tanbur. Dutor was an integral part of the musical culture and creativity of the folk singers Bakhshi, the keepers of the musical and poetic tradition, classical works and ancient instruments.
Uzbek dutar: general description
Dutar just like in Uzbekistan is a string musical instrument. The word comes from two Iranian words: du - two, tar - string. Usually the length of dutar is 1 or 2 meters. It is shaped like a pear and has a strongly elongated neck with a fingerboard. The instrument appeared around the 15th century among the herders. Therefore, the first strings for dutar were made from the guts of animals. Later the strings were made from twisted silk. Now masters use silk or nylon. The case is made of mulberry, and is encrusted with bone.
When Uzbek dutar is ready, it is left to dry in the hot Central Asian sun during the summer, that, according to the masters’ opinion, gives the instrument its unique sound.
There are many legends about the competition of great masters among themselves, one of which tells of a duel in which one of the participants cut the string to the opponent, and during the performance it broke off. But the master continued to play with only one hand and managed to win in a duel, thereby releasing his brother from captivity. Dutar takes its place of honor in the Uzbek tradition of makom and shashmakom. It is believed that the very sound of dutar expels evil spirits. Women equally with men played dutar. There are many images instantiating the fact in the history of Uzbekistan.
The technique of playing the dutar is highly developed and is characterized by a complex rhythmic texture and an abundance of legato. The structure of the instrument varies from region to region, but is often quart.
The methods of playing the Uzbek dutar are somewhat different from the methods of playing the dombra and are distinguished by developed dash technique. Musicians play dutar, as well as on dombra - squealing, but not only with all fingers, but with three fingers alternately, or simultaneously. The strings are tuned differently, depending on the traditions of the performance of a particular play.
Uzbek dutar's repertoire is diverse - from small everyday plays to large makoms and dastans. Dutar is used as a solo, ensemble and a singing accompaniment instrument. It is widely used in home music playing (in particular, by women) and folk musicians-professionals. Based on the prevailing type of people's dutar in Uzbekistan in the mid-30's the family of orchestral dutars (prima, alto, bass, double bass) was formed.
Dutar is more than a play
Today Uzbek musical instrument dutar continues to live and delight with its beautiful sounding, preserving in the 21st century its traditionality.
An ignorant man may think that dutar is a primitive thing: no pretentiousness, no art sophistication. However, the strictness and harmony of the lines of dutar is brought to a high level of art. And what skill should musician posses to share with the melodies of his soul playing only two strings!
If you listen to dutar, you feel the hot Uzbek sun, catch the many-voiced mountain streams, hear the screams of birds over the vast deserts.
The imprescriptible part of the musical culture of the Uzbek people is dutar. No celebration, be it a rural wedding or a state holiday, cannot do without the performances of folk singers. Played by folk musicians dutar can laugh and cry, passing all the shades of feelings, forcing the enchanted listeners to experience the happiness and tragedies of the heroes of the ancient dastans, to ponder over the depth of thought of the outstanding Uzbek poets.
The sound of a lone dutar is like a silent strings’ tear.
The sound of a lone dutar is like a dumb and coward fear.
Translated by Alyona Kulidi)