Karakalpak musical instruments are distinguished by their originality. The most popular musical instrument was the dutar, a twostringed plucked wooden instrument with a pear-shaped body and a rather short neck. The dutar has 12 or 13 tied-on frets and is covered with a thin wooden soundboard. Traditionally, it is decorated with carved bone and nacre insertions. The dutar has a very melodic sound. It is widely popular as an instrument for domestic music making. In general, it is a native attribute of bakhsi (singer of lyrical poems). The dutar is accompanied by a girzhek, a three-stringed bowed instrument with a pumpkin resonator and leather soundboard.
The symbol of Karakalpakstan musical culture is kobyz, a two-stringed bowed wooden instrument with an open resonator. Its ladle-shaped body is half-tightened with a leather soundboard. The strings are made of horsehair bundles. The kobyz produces matte “cosmic” sounds and traditionally accompanies the guttural singing of epic storytellers – zhirau. It consists of two separate parts, body and neck. It is a compact instrument and can easily fit into a road bag, which in ancient times was associated with the nomadic ways of a storyteller’s life.
The Karakalpak wind instruments also have a shade of historical echo. They emit a harmonious, yet exotic sound. Examples of wind instruments include the ancient shepherd’s inventions: a wooden pipe – balaman, reed flute – kamis nay, reed pipe – kuray, and a short reed pipe – duduk. The arched jaw harp (shin-gobyz) is a lamellophone instrument that consists of a metal rod and steel tongue. According to ancient beliefs, shamans playing the jaw harp and changing the tone and type of vibration could move across three worlds.