Dombra Show – Kazakh Music


The dombra can be rightly called the queen of Kazakh instruments since the 19th century. Due to its wide distribution, it now comes in many local varieties that differ in shape, fingerboard length and frets. The Western Kazakhstan dombra has a 2-octave range conforming to the elaborate nature of the region’s kyui. Playing techniques reflect the dynamic style of Western Kazakhstan kyui.

The Eastern Kazakhstan dombra has a shorter fingerboard with a diapason of 1.5 octaves, which reflects the song style of local kyui and, of course, the matching techniques of playing. We also find a three-stringed dombra in Eastern Kazakhstan. The technique of playing and sound formation of the dombra is extremely manifold giving the musicians unlimited styles in any musical piece. Dombra kyui are the acme of Kazakh music evolution. Hundreds of kyui have been created, thanks to the efforts of many generations of dombrists, including geniuses, whose music has outlasted them by centuries. The kyui is the most ample reflection of the Kazakh spirit. Traditional professional singers, zhyrau (epic songers), akyn (musical-poetic contest master), sal and sere (lyric song-composer) can all not do without this most extensively played instrument – the dombra.

People took pride in the clan’s outstanding musicians and rejoiced if their child showed some affection for the dombra. It was a great honour to have a musician as a guest in one’s home and an even greater honour if he dedicated his new- kyui to the hosts in appreciation of their hearty hospitality. Until today, this inherited genetic code determines the Kazakhs’ attitude towards their music.

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