Pieces I’m learning – Dutor Bayot

This is a series where I shall post videos of pieces I have learnt along with a simple analysis of the piece, some background knowledge, as well as key points about the piece I noted whilst learning.

The first piece of the series is Dutor Bayot, probably one of the first pieces on the dutor that I have ever heard, and remains catchy for me for its brisk rhythm and simple melody.

  1. Structure:

Dutor Bayot A-1


Dutor Bayot B-1 + A 


Dutor Bayot C-1-1 + B + A


Dutor Bayot D-1+ B + A


  1. Background

The melody of this piece is adapted from the melody of Bayot, the sho’be (sub-branch) of the Navo maqom* in the Bukharan shashmaqom, mostly in sung pieces. Characteristic of this melody is the gradual widening of the notes used in the major-like scale, beginning with a 3rd (do-mi) to a fifth (do-so), with and the culmination point (the avj) at the do an octave apart.

Adopted for the dutor, the melody is played faster than any of the sung pieces, and often incorporates purely percussive strikes on the body of the instrument (clicking with finger nails or tapping with finger tip), giving an impression of virtuosity.

*A mode which is used a few pieces in the collection, e.g. Muhammasi Bayot in the instrumental section (mushkilot), and talqini-bayot, nasr-i bayot, and ufor-i bayot. In the Ferghana-Tashkent tradition, however, bayot is a full maqom with five parts: saraxbor, tarona, savt, talqincha and soqinoma, each adopting the melody to their own usul (“groove").

  1. Versions available
  • Guzal Muminova, Dotar of Transoxania, Mahoor, 2007 (reference version for my recording)
  • Abdorahim Hamidov, Asie centrale: Les maîtres du dotâr, AIMP & VDE Gallo, 1993
  • Sultonali Xudoyberdiev (Soltan-Ali Khodaverdiev), Ouzbékistan : L’art du dotâr, Ocora, 1997
  • Zokirjon Obidov, Dotâr – Iran, Central Asia & Anatolia, Mahoor, 2010
  1. Thoughts on learning the piece

The version I learnt is the one recorded by Guzal Muminova from the album Dotar of Transoxania released by Mahoor in 2007. She plays with a steadier rhythm (compared to other recordings) and compensates for the virtuosity by using tremolos (riz) on the right hand extensively.

As the melody itself is quite straightforward and somewhat repetitive, variety is to be achieved through using various different strokes on the right hand to give different colours, all the while respecting the groove of the piece (♪♪♬♪), with a special emphasis in bringing out the syncopating motif of the final semiquaver and quaver.

The first half of section C includes a tapping on the soundboard of the dutor, imitating the bass strike on the doira. It is recommended to tap with two fingers (m and a) near the centre of the body just up from the bridge, in order to get a rich, deep sound. The index finger will then perform the up/down stroke on the string. As the melody is “broken up", the left hand will need to add more vibrato to let the notes ring on.

Alternative version

Dutor Bayot youtube

Abdurahim Hamidov – Video Compendium Part 2: The Nomadic

This collection of pieces showcases the more virtuosic side of dutar playing, with rapidfire right hand strokes and also other “extended techniques” such as hitting the body of the instrument. Intensity is mainly derived from the fierceness of playing (rather than by melodic height as in the pieces in the last post). Even the title of the pieces sometimes allude to the physicality of playing: “Chertmak” means “to play (dutar)”; “Nolish” is the sliding motion on the left hand on the neck –hence the fleeing sound of some of the notes; and “Qo’shtori” means “twin string”, referring to the two strings of the dutar which are tuned on the same pitch – which is rare, but not unusual.

(comments for each piece to follow)

As bolaman (chertmak)








Dutor navasi


Abdurahim Hamidov – Video Compendium

It has been just over a year since the great Uzbek dutar master Abdurahim Hamidov passed away. Read a tribute by the Uzbek writer Hamid Ismailov here.

While he is no longer around, the past year saw a few more of his videos surfacing on the web. For my own easier reference – and of course for all you interested ones – I have compiled these videos into a two-part list. Besides the video itself, I shall try to add other related information, such as facts about the pieces themselves (if available), other interpretations of the same pieces in commercial recordings or online videos, and even my own (subjective/biased/not-necessarily correct) commentaries for interest sake.

The videos are not listed out in any particular order – except for my own implicit preference maybe.

The compendium will be in two parts – the Melodic and the Nomadic.

Part 1 – The Melodic

Pieces included here are taken from either the shashmaqom repertoire, or from the “semi-classical" repertoire which consist of songs written in the style of maqom whilst not belonging to its canon. These are typically more melodic, rising gradually from the lower register and culminating in the higher before returning to the opening register, with the musical intensity achieved by mainly by melodic means.

Tasnif-i Navo

Tasnif-i Navo is from the Maqom Navo – the first piece of the instrumental section (mushlikot), or in fact, the first piece of the whole of this maqom. Characteristic of the melody is its “dual-polar" of the notes F and G, and the dyad D-F. 

It remains one of my favourite piece – especially as a solo dutar piece. But it is no less beautiful played as an ensemble.

On a separate note, another master, Turgun Alimatov, “composed" his own version of the piece which is simply called “Navo", played on a sato. Whilst slightly different melodically, it is played on essentially the same scale with the same melodic characteristic as stated above, and more importantly, conveys a similar aura.

Other commercial recordings include one by Hamidov himself on Ouzbékistan: L’art du dotâr (Ocora C560111), as well as one by his student Gozal Muminova on Dotâr of Transoxania (Mahoor 229). Turgun Alimatov’s recording of Navo is found on Ouzbékistan: Turgun Alimatov (Ocora C560086) and can be heard here . A short version of it can be heard on Spotify: 

Nasr-i Segoh

Nasr-i Segoh is a piece from the Maqom Segoh, one of the pieces of the first sung section (nasr). This recording only contains a small clip from the beginning of the pieces. I have personally not seen / heard any version of this piece except that recorded by Turgun Alimatov, which can be heard on Ouzbékistan: Turgun Alimatov (Ocora C560086) (click here) or on Spotify: 


http://mcm.base-alexandrie.fr/UZ03Yasavi01.mp4 (embedding not working…)

(comments to come)


(comments to come)

Qaro ko’z

(comments to come)

Unknown Piece

(anyone knows what it is?)

Complete Alisher Navoi online

In reading Nathan Light’s dissertation on performance of Turkic poetry by Uyghur 12 muqam singers, he mentioned that he was only able to peruse 6 volumes of the complete edition of Alisher Navoi (Navoiy), the great poet from the Chagatay period whose ghazals are (seemingly) frequently sung to both Uzbek and Uyghur traditional musics.

Now, it seems that, in 2011, on the occasion of Navoi’s 570 birth anniversay, the Uzbek national library website has put the complete edition of Navoi, all 20 volumes of it, on a dedicated website. Although far from being able to read much if any of it, it will still be a useful resource for those interested. Here is the website.

(On a separate note, volumes of Navoi seems to be much easier to locate than those of Mashrab, a later poet – for his style see the poem “Sig’mamdur" quoted in the “Girya" post – any clues?)


Sig’mamdur – Boborahim Mashrab

Ajab majnun erurman, dasht ila sahrog’a sig’mamdur,
Dilim daryoyi nurdur, mavj urub dunyog’a sig’mamdur.

Shariat ham, tariqat ham, haqiqat mendadur mavjud,
Chu sultoni azaldurmanki, arshi a’log’a sig’mamdur.

Xaliloso bu yo’lda otashi Namrud – me’rojim,
Hamon durri haqiqatmanki, har dunyoga sig’mamdur.

(Rizo mulkidaman, halqumni tuttum tig’I Akbarga,
Bu yo’lda siynai poki Zabunullog’a sig’mamdur. )

Agarchande ziyorat qilmadim men Ka’bayi zohir,
Tariqat hojisidurmanki, Baytulloga sig’mamdur.

Gahi bo’ldum faqiru, gohi shohu, gah gadodurman,
Ajab devonaman, fardoki mahshargohg’a sig’mamdur.

(Maqomi hayrat ichra gohi xudman, gohi bexudman,
Junun bozorida mastmanki, istig’nog’a sig’mamdur.

Gah o’rus, gohi cherkas, gohi mo’min, gohi tarsoman,
Ne kavnayni miyoni lou illollog’a sig’mamdur. )

Mudom miskin erurman chun g’uloming – Mashrabingdurman,
Meni bechora bu dunyo bilan uqbog’a sig’mamdur.

I am a strange fool; there is no room for me in the steppe or in the desert
My heart is an impetuous river of light that is out of place in this world

I have rules of life, paths, truths for life
I am as powerful as a sultan, but there is no room for me in heaven

Abraham is my staff of my way, and the flame of Nimrod my ladder
I am a pearl of Truth, but there is no place for me in its river

I do not go to the Kaaba, I am out of place in the mosque
surrouding the blackstone, I am a pilgrim on the roads to truth

Sometimes a dervish, sometimes a king or a beggar
There is no room for me, extravagant pilgrim, at Judgement Day

I am a destitute, I am Mashrab the slave
There is no room for me, neither in this world nor in the other

Uzbek -> French: Hamid Ismailov
French -> English: Martine Desbureaux/teachmyselfdutar)
More anon.