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Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?

09 May 08 - 07:13 PM (#2336858)
Subject: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Jack Blandiver

Thinking about getting a Shruti box; acoustic or electronic. Anyone got any thoughts and / or advice?


09 May 08 - 07:21 PM (#2336860)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Jack Campin

What would an acoustic one be?

If you're not doing Indian music with it, you may find the tuning a bit disconcerting.

My experience of them is rather limited - trying to do a "fusion" performance of our Middle Eastern band with an Indian singer who backed herself with a shruti box. The structures of Indian and Arabic music are similar; the intonation systems are far enough apart to make your brain hurt.


09 May 08 - 07:43 PM (#2336877)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)

Maybe John Kelly can help - though I think he plays a bina...
Build your own bina

This is entirely about Shruti boxes though.


11 May 08 - 04:41 AM (#2337532)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Jack Blandiver

After due consideration I think I'll be settling on an electronic plastic one. There's a few currently doing the rounds (one it a fetching curious orange) which seems ideal in terms of portability & tuneability - essential when I'm using my old simple system military (?) pitch C & Bb clarinets, pocket trumpet and a variety of otherwise untuned gew-gaws (Jew's Harps) & overtone flutes.

Meanwhile, I'll be making do with the stylophone...


11 May 08 - 07:05 AM (#2337568)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST,Nigel Spencer

You have a stylophone?... Can we?...


11 May 08 - 07:44 AM (#2337579)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST,cardboard cutout

Jackie Oates uses a shruti in performance and on her c.d. "The Violet Hour". It sounds interestingly effective with English traditional song.


11 May 08 - 08:24 AM (#2337589)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Dave Hanson

What does ' shruti ' mean ?

eric


11 May 08 - 09:00 AM (#2337605)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Jack Campin

Originally, a shruti is the unit of pitch in Indian music - the octave is divided into 22 (non-equal) intervals, "shrutis". A raga uses a selection of seven of these pitches.

A "shruti box" is a substitute for a tanpura as the drone in an Indian classical music group - it plays a couple of notes with very long sustain and no discernible rhythm. They are usually electronic, but there is a reed one like a cut-down Indian harmonium (an English concertina would do more or less the same job).


11 May 08 - 11:00 AM (#2337667)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: mattkeen

I think acoustic shruti's are great especially for drone type work obviously

Karine Polwart uses one a lot


11 May 08 - 12:09 PM (#2337699)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Jack Blandiver

Nigel - of course we can!. Check out my two Stylophonies at The Ha-Ha Myspace...


11 May 08 - 03:54 PM (#2337806)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)

Great stuff - not sure how I missed these.


12 May 08 - 11:48 AM (#2338405)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Harmonium Hero

Nigel: yes, it's a bina - more widely known as an Indian harmonium. They usually have up to five drones. The shrutti box is just drones - I think about seven on a simple one, up to thirteen on a bigger one. I did borrow Jackie Oates' one for a couple of songs on an unplanned 'fringe' concert that Rumworth Morris (with whom I was dancing) did in the lovely old Unitarian(?) chapel at Sidmouth last year. I'll probably get one one of these days!
John Kelly.


12 May 08 - 05:44 PM (#2338716)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST,Rich

A vina is a very different instrument from an Indian harmonium. The former is stringed intsrument used typically in Carnatic music that was a pre-cursor to the sitar, albeit without sympathetic strings. It is typically associated with the Hindu goddess Saraswati.

Rich


13 May 08 - 02:59 AM (#2338985)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)

bina, not vina. Two different instruments.


13 May 08 - 05:12 AM (#2339057)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST,Andrew

Bina is a brand of harmoniums (Bina Musical Stores of Delhi) rather than being a separate instrument.


13 May 08 - 09:10 AM (#2339197)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Jack Blandiver

Bina is a brand of harmoniums (Bina Musical Stores of Delhi) rather than being a separate instrument.

That's what I've always thought; our Indian Harmonium (a particularly cheap & nasty model with eccentric couplings the sense of which I've yet to figure out!) was sold to us as a Baja, which is the name I tend to use for it.


13 May 08 - 11:29 AM (#2339332)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Harmonium Hero

I've heard at least three names for the Indian harmonium: bina, peti or baja.
John Kelly.


13 May 08 - 01:06 PM (#2339429)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Jack Blandiver

Do you know about the various couplings, John? Ours seems to have three distinctive tonal zones on the keyboard with no way of bridging them. A duff instrument, or is there a method here I wonder?


13 May 08 - 02:51 PM (#2339519)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Harmonium Hero

Sedayne: not quite sure what you mean by 'three distinctive tonal zones'. Do you mean that different parts of the keyboard play in different voices? If so, I've never come across this.
John Kelly.


13 May 08 - 05:49 PM (#2339668)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Jack Blandiver

That's basically the problem, John; the instrument's in storage just now so I can't be more specific. Still sounds good though - we used it on The Bonny Boy, presently playing on Rachel's myspace page...


13 May 08 - 05:54 PM (#2339678)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST,Rich

My mistake, a bin was early vina.

Rich


13 May 08 - 09:00 PM (#2339860)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca

I think it is David Francey that has one of them in his show. Fascinating sound out of it.


27 May 08 - 04:02 PM (#2350373)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Jack Blandiver

My Shruti Box arrived today, all the way from Dheli, carried by a dozen migrating swallows who were paid double-time to detour from South Africa especially. It sweetly drones on the tonic with either an octave, a 4th or a 5th above - and it's entirely tuneable so I can play it with even my most recalcitrant Jew's Harps, and my pocket trumpet's a bit sharp of concert too! Sweet, and loud! Can't wait until I get my fat bastard clarinets out of storage to really put it through its paces.

Interested? Here's how to get one: Shruti Box Oh, and mine's black & white, rather than orange...


27 May 08 - 08:07 PM (#2350590)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: The Fooles Troupe

"different parts of the keyboard play in different voices"

Funny you shoudl think that - I used to play on an old pedal organ that split the kb in the middle to allow different reed stop voicings for bass and treble.


28 May 08 - 09:47 AM (#2350993)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: mattkeen

Sedayne
You didn't get the electronic one did ya?


18 Nov 10 - 04:11 PM (#3035421)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: VirginiaTam

I am now panting after a shruti box. saw them in music stall at Sidmouth and controlled myself. Now thinking I want one for Christmas... or before.

Love that My Bonny Boy, S O'P. Please tell Rachel (Rapunzel?) that I said so.


18 Nov 10 - 04:37 PM (#3035439)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: BobKnight

I have one - great for doing Scottish traditional music - the drone effect really suits older stuff. I saw Karine Polwart with one at Stonehaven Folk Festival a couple of years back. I thought it would give the audience a bit of relief from me accompanying myself on the guitar all night

You can get them at the Shruti-Box Company here in the UK, but they're a bit expensive for what they are.


18 Nov 10 - 05:08 PM (#3035459)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: VirginiaTam

want this one


18 Nov 10 - 05:34 PM (#3035478)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Jack Campin

Or do it on the cheap.

Go to http://www.karnatik.com/shrutibox.shtml

Copy sound files at the pitches you want (all 12 ET semitones are available, 1 min or 8 min).

Put them on an MP3 player or copy them onto CD (which is what I did, with iTunes) and you've got a shruti box that fits in your pocket for next to nothing.


18 Nov 10 - 07:11 PM (#3035536)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Tootler

I bought this one in low G.

You can hear it here providing background to a harmonica and here accompanying my singing. the first part of the video includes some clips of the shruti box where you can see the double bellows arrangement which provides the continuous sound.


18 Nov 10 - 07:21 PM (#3035543)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Jack Campin

The shruti box goes brilliantly with the harmonica on that. Wonderful.


19 Nov 10 - 01:11 AM (#3035679)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Gibb Sahib

http://www.appstorehq.com/itanpura-iphone-67250/app


19 Nov 10 - 02:34 AM (#3035703)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: VirginiaTam

Tootler... absolutely wonderful... now wondering should I go for wider range than the mere c to c box.


19 Nov 10 - 05:46 AM (#3035795)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: BobKnight

I'd forgotten that I have a video of me using the Shruti-box on "Tramps and Hawkers."

Check it out on www.youtube.com/bobknightfolk


19 Nov 10 - 07:46 AM (#3035861)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST,S O'P (Astray)

My shruti box is still going strong - batteries & mains power - perfect for crwth, fiddle, zither, folk songs, ragas, kabas, piobeareachds & other delights, although these days I might augment it with my Kaosillator...


19 Nov 10 - 09:04 AM (#3035911)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: bubblyrat

Yes, I succumbed at Towersey and bought a "G" one ; as others have said, it goes brilliantly with harmonica / mouth organ.Mine goes nicely with my Tombo "Band" mouth-organ, and the combination sounds great for ( so far !) Scottish tunes such as "Highland Laddie" (I haven't tried "Donkey Riding " yet, but....!!) and songs like "Mairie's Wedding " & "Westering Home". The only "trick" or "knack" is learning how and when to stop the bloody thing at the end of a "Push" or "Pull " stroke just as you finish playing ! Get it wrong, and it keeps droning away until you can close it & do up the clips ; I wish mine had a silent air button !!


19 Nov 10 - 06:23 PM (#3036320)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Tootler

Nice one Bob. You have a nice strong voice which goes well with the shruti box.

Thanks for your comment, Jack.

VT, the low G box is still a one octave range. It's just pitched a fourth lower than the C box. With both you get a complete chromatic octave, so you can use them in any key. It's a case of choosing which you think will suit your voice range better. Thanks for your comment on my videos, BTW.

Using it with harmonica works really well. As both can be played with one hand, you can play both at the same time. For lament in July though, I recorded the harmonica and shruti box separately and mixed them using Audacity. It makes life easier as you can adjust them both separately and make sure each comes through clearly. Even with singing I found recording the shruti box separately better for the same reason. I am gradually building up a stock of recordings of the box in different keys for future use.


20 Nov 10 - 06:03 AM (#3036559)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: VirginiaTam

ooohhh I like that Tramps and Hawkers.... so many songs so little time to learn 'em.

Well I succumbed and purchased the C to C. Can't wait until it arrives.


20 Nov 10 - 09:47 AM (#3036666)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST,oaktree

There are more tanpura drones in mp3 format here:

http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~mrahaim/


21 Nov 10 - 03:36 PM (#3037527)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Tootler

Yes, I enjoyed Tramps and Hawkers. A much longer version than I sing.


21 Nov 10 - 11:33 PM (#3037739)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST

Jackie Oates sings Past Caring and discusses her Shruti Box in this Bright Young Folk interview.


22 Nov 10 - 06:49 AM (#3037869)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST,Mr Red

thoughts?

not many


22 Nov 10 - 08:40 AM (#3037920)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST,PatrickH

I've heard Noirin ni Rian using a sruti box while singing sean-nos.
Punters in the crowd referred to it as "the singing handbag."
Add to that Noirin's penchant for undulating gestures with the other hand while singing and you get their trenchant comment on what she does: "sean-nos for the deaf."


22 Nov 10 - 02:38 PM (#3038136)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: VirginiaTam

yeah.. it was the Jackie Oates' Past Carin that finally convinced me, I really wanted one. She performed it at Show of Hands concert in Otford Kent last month.


25 Nov 10 - 01:16 PM (#3040350)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: VirginiaTam

well this morning's post evaporated, so I will try to remember this evening what I composed this morning.

My box is here. Heavier learning curve than I expected in figuring out how to keep the bellows charged with air and producing an even volume as I open reeds. It seems to lose air so quickly.

Question -   should the bellows be covered in paper? Mine has silver (almost Christmas wrap looking) paper. I thought they covered them with fabric. I am not too happy with the look of that silver paper.

Learning to smoothly open and close reeds while charging the bellows and singing. That's a lot of stuff for my puny brain to be getting on with. BTW, I had to loosen the reed covers. They were screwed down so tight I could barely move them. I don't think I loosened too much. Hope air is not leaking around them.


25 Nov 10 - 01:22 PM (#3040360)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Ah, the joys of Indian craftsmanship! We've got a lap-top harmonium that would fail a remedial word-work class, complete with razor-sharp aluminium ornaments. Sounds great though, similar bellows to a Shruti, but with the convenience of a keyboard:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IJQzcyDTQI


25 Nov 10 - 02:31 PM (#3040405)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Tootler

Have you released both sets of bellows? There are two sets of bellows, one on the reed side and the set you pump. Both are held by a catch and you need to release both to ensure a steady flow of air.

Suibhne, the M1 shruti box is made in the UK and the standard of construction is pretty good. That said, I found I had to adjust some of the screws holding the "keys" to ensure they moved easily, but were not too loose.


25 Nov 10 - 02:58 PM (#3040422)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: VirginiaTam

yes both sides released.. :~)

I guess I am just not very coordinated keeping the bellows charged.

The cabinet construction appears to be fine though I am not impressed with the plywood boards on front and back, especially the cheap wood grain laminate. There are 3 different colours of wood. For the price, I think it should be all solid wood, stained the same colour.   Also the reed covers are not uniform size and shape.

This thing looks like it has been put together from spare parts.


@Tootler _ are your bellows covered in paper or fabric?


28 Nov 10 - 06:43 PM (#3042361)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Tootler

Only just got round to replying to this. The rest of my life intruded :-)

My box looks pretty much as shown on the M1 shruti box website and the construction is as described here. The case, including the front and rear panels are of solid wood construction and are stained an even colour. The "keys" are even in size and shape. The bellows are of stiff paper with leather joints. Nothing wrong with that as a similar type of construction is widely used for concertina bellows

You need to work the bellows fairly slowly and steadily returning it more quickly than you squeeze it. It will give an even steady tone if worked that way. You need to be careful not to let the secondary bellows become too inflated or it can take some time for the sound to stop after you have finished singing. For me at least, that was the the thing that needed most work and I still get it wrong. I have a habit of closing my eyes when singing and you need to keep an eye on the bellows so I need to practice singing with my eyes open.


11 Jan 11 - 04:07 PM (#3072379)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Tootler

I have uploaded a short clip to You Tube with pictures and a demonstration of my M1 shruti box. You can hear it on quite a few of my You Tube clips

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JO_mbsyWODg

VT, How are you getting on with yours?


12 Jan 11 - 01:43 PM (#3073138)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST,HampsteadDirtFarmer

Noted that they've got both acoustic ones and a couple of electronic ones at Hobgoblin now. The acoustic ones have a dozen or so 'stops' on them at diatonic intervals. I'm no 'nu'-folker nor post-rocker but the leccy ones are very 'old-school' as well with -I'd say- analogue circuitry rather than digital. So no samples, but dirty, organic, electronic tone generation.


12 Jan 11 - 03:19 PM (#3073226)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

dirty, organic, electronic tone generation.

Sounds about right. Beautiful!


18 Feb 11 - 03:00 PM (#3098164)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: EBarnacle

Alexy Murchoch [sp?] just played his as accompaniment on WNYC's Sound Check. My initial reaction was that it was a Hurdy Gurdy he was playing as a straight drone. Then, he explained what it was. Great sound.


03 Dec 11 - 03:15 PM (#3267957)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: VirginiaTam

Just learned today to play (and sing) katlaughing's (and Judie McKeown's) Waves of Sorrow on my shruti.


03 Dec 11 - 07:55 PM (#3268080)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: Suegorgeous

Gosh, must check these out.


11 Feb 12 - 04:18 AM (#3305813)
Subject: RE: Tech: Shruti Boxes - Thoughts?
From: GUEST,Mawich

The biggest problem I have with my Shruti box is figuring out what to do with it. I'm not particularly good at learning things by ear, so I watch the video of Jackie Oates singing Past Caring and really really wish the camera was over her shoulder so I could see how she's changing the notes because it takes me forever to figure it out.

Probably good for me to make the effort though. I found that video quite revealing as she's doing a bit more than just turning the dominant or third on and off.