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Домра эксп. цеха фабрики Луначарского, 1970-е.JPG
String instrument
Classification Plucked string instrument
Hornbostel–Sachs classification321.321
(Composite chordophone)
Playing range
Domra Diapason.svg
Related instruments
Balalaika, Mandolin

The domra (Russian: домра) is a long-necked Russian folk string instrument of the lute family with a round body and three or four metal strings.


In 1896, a student of Vasily Vasilievich Andreyev found a broken instrument in a stable in rural Russia. It was thought that this instrument may have been an example of a domra, although no illustrations or examples of the traditional domra were known to exist in Russian chronicles (the traditional domra was only known through numerous mentions in folklore, though examples of a related Turkic instrument, the dombra, existed). A three-stringed version of this instrument was later redesigned in 1896, patented, and introduced into the orchestra of Russian folk instruments.[1]

The three-stringed domra uses a tuning in 4ths.

Later, a four-stringed version was developed employing a violin tuning by Moscow instrument maker, Liubimov, in 1905.

In recent times, scholars have come to the conclusion that the term "domra" actually described a percussive instrument popular in Russia, and that the discovered instrument was either a variant of the balalaika or a mandolin.

Today, it is the three-stringed domra that is used almost exclusively in Russia. It is played with a plectrum, and is often used to play the lead melody in Russian balalaika ensembles.

Orchestral instruments[edit]

A soviet-made 4 string Ukrainian Domra

The basic domra is tuned as follows:

  • Three strings: EAD tuning
  • Four strings: GDAE tuning (like the mandolin or the violin)

Instruments are made in various sizes including piccolo, prima, alto, tenor, bass, and contrabass.

  • Piccolo: b1 e2 a2[2]
  • Prima: e1 a1 d2[3]
  • Soprano: b e1 a1[4]
  • Alto: e a d1[5]
  • Tenor: B e a[6]
  • Bass: E A d[7]
  • Contrabass (minor): 1E 1A D[8]
  • Contrabass (major): 1A D G[9]


Tamara Volskaya is considered to be one of the leading contemporary performers on the domra. She is a Merited Artist of Russia, a Laureate of the USSR competition, and a Professor at the Mussorgsky Ural State Conservatory in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Other prominent domrists include:

  • Tatjana Ossipova
  • Michail Sawtschenko
  • Viktor Kalinsky
  • Victor Solomin

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Государственный академический русский оркестр им. В. В. Андреева".
  2. ^ "Tablature for piccolo domra".
  3. ^ "Tablature for prima domra".
  4. ^ "Tablature for mezzosoprano domra".
  5. ^ "Tablature for alto domra".
  6. ^ "Tablature for tenor domra".
  7. ^ "Tablature for bass domra".
  8. ^ "Tablature for contrabass domra (the minor)".
  9. ^ "Tablature for contrabass domra (the major)".

External links[edit]