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Ektara

The ektara, also known as the Gopijantra or Gopichand,  is an ancient one- stringed drone instrument  used as an accompaniment by the Bauls of Bengal. Different forms of this instrument are found around  India, used particularly by wandering mendicants, with variations in shape, size and material. Names too vary from region to region.    

In Bangladesh (erstwhile East Bengal)  hollow, dried gourd is traditionally used to make the body while in West Bengal the body is made of wood. Ektaras made of wood-apple shell or coconut shell are comparatively smaller in size, while those made from bottle gourd are larger. The smaller ektaras are sold as show pieces in local fairs.



The ektara, also known as the Gopijantra or Gopichand,  is an ancient one- stringed drone instrument  used as an accompaniment by the Bauls of Bengal. Different forms of this instrument are found around  India, used particularly by wandering mendicants, with variations in shape, size and material. Names too vary from region to region. 

In Bangladesh (erstwhile East Bengal)  hollow, dried gourd is traditionally used to make the body while in West Bengal the body is made of wood. Ektaras made of wood-apple shell or coconut shell are comparatively smaller in size, while those made from bottle gourd are larger. The smaller ektaras are sold as show pieces in local fairs.

The hollowed gourd, open at both ends,  forms the body, with the bottom covered with goatskin. The neck is a narrow, hollow, bamboo rod, split in two, through most of its length, which clamps the body on two sides.  A tuning peg, or kan, often only a twig,  is inserted through the bamboo, above the split.  A string made of metal or animal gut is drawn from the base of the body to the neck and coiled around the peg. The peg is tightened or loosened to alter the tension on  the string. The Baul usually  holds the ektara aloft in the right hand, and plucks it with his right forefinger, while he (or she) sways to his music.  Sometimes he uses both hands to play his ektara, plucking with his right and  squeezing the two splits together, with his left, an act which tightens or slackens the tension on the string, thus bending the note.   

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