The East Indian Ektara is reinterpreted as this modern string instrument for today’s folk musicians!

The Sukhtara is a modern reinterpretation of the Ektara string instrument from East India, whose origins date back a millennium.

Musical instruments have helped characterize cultures for millennia. In eastern India, between 1700 BC. Entirely made from natural materials, the Ektara has not undergone many updates since its first productions.

As a result, today’s folk music lovers and antique dealers have not modernized the ancient instrument. Arnab Patra, a design student based in India, recently completed work on giving the Ektara a much needed structural update to bring the beloved instrument back into mainstream discourse and use.

Dubbed Sukhtara, the updated instrument still retains the familiar wooden construction of the Ektara. Constructed from a coconut or gourd shell, bamboo, wire twine, wood, and goatskin, Sukhtara is the culmination of many Patras overhaul works.

For example, the original Ektara’s tuning hole increased in size with more playing time. Due to its bamboo construction, the bamboo tuning peg would consistently push further into the tuning hole by. bamboo until the hole was so big that the peg would still loosen.

In building Sukhtara, Patra aimed to solve this tuning problem by replacing the bamboo tuning peg with a metal butterfly tuner, similar to those found on guitars and violins. Sukhtara’s tuning box sits at the top of the instrument where it forms a small bridge between the two bamboo arms and the soundbars, creating space for the instrument’s metal string to wrap around for the ‘OK.

Although the changes may seem small, they are necessary for the cultural instrument to remain in modern use. Following the contemporary instrumental structuring, the Sukhtara enhances the aesthetics, construction materials and playing styles of Ektara for the modern instrumentalist to awaken the music of the past.

Designer: Arnab Patra

While Patra maintained the construction of the instruments, some adjustments were made to the sound box, tuning box, and bamboo arms.

Sukhtara is a modern interpretation of Ektara.

The Ektara dates back to some time between 1700 BC and 7th century CE

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