The Domra

The domra is a member of the lute instrument family. It orignates from Russia and was invented around the 16th century.

Arent, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Domra being played by girl
Mediafon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The first known mention of domra is in Admonitions of Metropolitan Daniel (1530). This musical instument gained great popularity in the 16th–17th centuries, replacing gusli. There are numerous mentions of domra in historic documents of this period. In addition, medieval Russian illuminated manuscripts of the Psalter contain images of musicians with necked plucked-string instruments, and some of those miniatures are clearly captioned “depiction of domras”.

The construction of the ribbed back on the domra invovles bending the strips of wood over a hot press and gluing them in place around a solid bowl-shaped mold. After glue has set, the back is sanded on the outside and then removed from the mold, to be finished on the inside. To get the correct shape for the top(or soundboard) of the instrument, the back is placed open side down on a thin sheet of spruce or other suitable tonewood and used as a template.

Domra Front and Back
ПростоУчастник, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Domras being played in band
[1], Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It is often used to play folk music and similar melodies. It can be played solo or in a band.

How do I play the instrument?

The domra is played by plucking the strings with a pick or fingers similar to a lute

Are there any instrument silimar to this one?

The balalaika

How long does it take to learn?

It can take a few weeks to learn

Is there special equipment needed for the instrument?


Domra player
Yessenov miras, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rock with a Star!

Let’s enjoy the sound of this instrument through this wonderful performance by Peter Omelchenko