Making of a Dotara (musical instrument)

Making of a Dotara (musical instrument)

in Video
Published on: 12 June 2018

Soumendu Das

Soumendu Das is a post graduate student of Department of Commerce, University of Calcutta and a music practitioner. He has made concerted efforts and built a strong online community ‘দোতারা বাজাই-Dotara Bajai’ to revive, re-inject Dotara into mainstream music to encourage the younger generation. He has collaborated with musicians from Senegal and Hungary to present the instrument as a part of world music.

Video recorded on November 16, 2017, in Nadia, West Bengal


Sankar Bal, a versatile dotara maker from Nadia shows us the step-by-step process of making a dotara. The wood is chopped into shape at the primary stage. Then the lower part is hollowed neatly because the sweetness of the sound depends mostly upon the shaving off of wood in the lower portion of the instrument. Then a peacock or common bird design is made on the upper extension. Goat skin and a metal plate are placed over the lower and middle portion, respectively. Again the thickness of the skin should be minimum for better tonal quality. Polishing and attaching the strings from the lower tail piece to the ears on top is the last thing to be done.


For making a Dotara the following items are required:

  • Wood
  • Steel/sunmica plate for fingerboard
  • Leather (typically, stretched goat skin)
  • Strings (cotton/nylon/steel/raw silk/bronze)
  • Saraswati or tailpiece (metal in modern designs)
  • Wooden main bridge
  • Knobs/ears/pegs (typically made of wood)
  • Polishing materials