ⓘ Domra


ⓘ Domra

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. A three-stringed version of this instrument was later redesigned in 1896, patented, and introduced into the orchestra of Russian folk instruments.

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.


1. Orchestral instruments

The basic domra is tuned as follows:

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

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

  • Contrabass major: 1A D G
  • Contrabass minor: 1E 1A D
  • Alto: e a d1
  • Prima: e1 a1 d2
  • Soprano: b e1 a1
  • Piccolo: b1 e2 a2
  • Tenor: B e a
  • Bass: E A d

2. Performers

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.