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.


To begin with, there are four types of ways that the fingers strum the strings:
i) a downstroke with the middle, ring and little (can also add index) fingers together (|)
ii) a downstroke with the thumb (>)
iii) an upstroke with the thumb (<)
iv) an upstroke with the index finger (^)


These strokes combine in different ways to form different rhythmic patterns called usuls (a term also common to Arabic and Persian music). Rhythmic patterns are repeated like a drum rhythm, whilst the left hand plays the melody. Thus, the dutar is a melody, accompaniment and rhtyhmic instrument in one go(!!). The first pattern I was taught was a simple one, to be used as an exercise for rhythmic steadiness:

| < | < | < | <

My teacher Razia said that it is most important to play this usul with a clock-like regularity. Surely a regular rhythm is required of the learning of all musics, but the percussive sound quality of the dutar means that the rhythmic quality is very audible and its exactitude is crucial for the playing to sound good.


Another usul I learnt is called the tanovar (or tanâvar), a form of dance.
A description by Nancy Rose Aktas about tanovar can be found here (as Part II of ‘Women’s Dances in Uzbekistan’, the third paragraph of the page. Just search ‘tanovar’). It goes like this:

| < ^ | < ^ | ^ | < ^ | < ^ | ^

a 3 + 3 + 2 pattern. It is important to play the first two downstrokes slight lower down to allow the thumb to play the upstroke. The third stroke needs to be played lighter as to let the index finger play the upstroke easily. As one learns to play this usul up to speed, the strokes would melt into one continuum with only the downstrokes emerging. Just think when these patterns combine with the mesmerizing melodies on the left hand, how fantastic a resultant sound we would get!



The Uzbek dutar is usually tuned in the four types of tunings: 4ths, 5ths, unison or octave. My semi-educated guess is that tunings in 4ths and 5ths are the commonest ones, with the latter two tunings used only occasionally.

Uzbek dutar belongs to the type of dutar that is ‘polyphonic’, which means that both strings are stopped when playing, as opposed to, for example the Torbat-e Jam dutar, in which only the first (higher) string is stopped, with the lower string providing a drone. One would think that the music played by the two types of dutar would be very different, given that one type is polyphonic and the other is monophonic. This is primarily because the word ‘polyphonic’ is somewhat misleading in this context.

The dutar is essentially a melodic instrument (what instrument – save percussion – isn’t melodic in music from this region?). What unites both types of dutars is that the melodic line is almost exclusively played on the high string, whilst the lower string provides accompaniment. This means that, the melody is played by moving up and down the neck only, without any string-crossing. This accompaniment is either the drone, or various ‘harmonizations’ of the melodic notes, depending on tradition. It appears that the harmonizations are, most the time, not composed into the melodies, but added for euphonic purpose. Of course, there are conventions as to what kind of harmonizations are agreeable and which ones less so (ie not used). This is what I learnt when I realised that a tune that my teacher played me, which I thought was familiar but whose harmonization I could not recognise, turned out to be a reharmonization of a piece I’d played him the day before when we first met. More about that later. The most important point I want to make here, is that in learning dutar music of any sort, what is essential is the melody. It is the melody which defines the music, far more than the harmonization. As a guitarist who learned pop songs mainly by their chord sequences, that necessitated a very different way of listening to the music. Choosing to play a song with the string tuned a 4th or a 5th apart then depends on which would facilitate better-sounding harmonizations.