Name: Ektara.

Type: Monochord > Membranophone.

Region: India > Bangladesh > South Asia.

Dimensions: Length 62 cm.

Acquisition Date: Circa year 2005.

Acquisition Source: Rajasthan India, Ian McKenzie.

Description: The ektara, ektar, ekanada [in South India], other names include Gopiyantra or Gopichand. It is a plucked monochord that belongs to a broad family of single stringed instruments. Identically close relatives of the ektara are found through out many different regions they include the Yaktaro of Sindh, the Tuila of Orissa and the Ramsagar of Gujarat. In North India there are 20 different varieties of ektara that currently exist.

Origins: Considered to be one of India's ancient instruments. The origins of the ektara are closely linked with wondering minstrels and bards. It is played by holy men, or sadhus and by practitioners involved in the sufi tradition.
The divine names of deities and mantras are called out in an ecstatic call and response during the performance. The ektara is also played by wondering holy men or sadhus. In the Sufi tradition one employs the ektara to accompany chanting. The Bauls of Bengal are known to play the ektara. In Bangra music the Ektara is accompanied by vocals and the dhol. It is traditionally used in Kirtan a practice of Hindu devotional singing.

Types: There is a form of ektara having two strings also is referred to as the name “dotara”. However this is not to be confused with the Indian two stringed lute “dotara”. The ektara is often tuned to the musician’s voice. Since the 1970's the ektara was made popular in North America when it was introduced by devotional Kirtan Wallas. One of the notable Kirtan wallah's was the legendary Western sadhu Bagavan Das who is the author of "Her Now, Are You"? Bhagavan Das he is also a famous Kirtan recording artist who plays the ektara.

Playing Technique: Playing the ektara involves the plucking of a single string in between while bending two strips of bamboo to change the pitch of the instrument.

Construction: The ektara is constructed from two strips of bamboo, from the same piece of bamboo which has a cap on the top of the instrument. A single string travels in between is connected from the top to the membrane. the membrane of the ektara would have a flexible bottom cut from animal hide, lizard skin or often more commonly elastic synthetic materials. A single wooden wooden tuning peg is hand carved and inserted into the top.

Citations: / ektara (article) Randy Raine-Reusch; Bibliography: New Grove Dictionary of Music by Stanley Sadie A to F Vol. 1 Page 649-690. MacMillan Press limited, London. C. Sachs Die Musikinstrumente Indiens and Indonesiens Berlin and Liepeg 1914 2/1920. K. S. Kothari - Indian Folk Musical Instruments, New Dheli 1968. B.C. Deva - Musical Instrument of India, Calcutta 1978. Alesteir Dick, Carol M. Babiracki, Mireille Helffer.