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Lars

Drone Box, Looking For Opinions!

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Hi all,

Well, I've been lurking for awhile and its been a year or two since posting. When I got my first concertina I decided against a drone button because of the break in sound when playing. I heard of someone using a "Sruti box" from India as a drone and that gave me an idea to have a drone box designed and built in India using harmonium reeds, etc. I have a lot of experience in the past with importing and designing instruments from India.

So my question is to everyone, what do you think of this idea? I was thinking it would be a handy thing to have especially for playing slow airs, etc. I'll at least make one of them, there may be features necessary that I haven't thought of so looking for opinions and this is the first place I thought of for that.

 

Well?

 

Lars

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Hi all,

Well, I've been lurking for awhile and its been a year or two since posting. When I got my first concertina I decided against a drone button because of the break in sound when playing. I heard of someone using a "Sruti box" from India as a drone and that gave me an idea to have a drone box designed and built in India using harmonium reeds, etc. I have a lot of experience in the past with importing and designing instruments from India.

So my question is to everyone, what do you think of this idea? I was thinking it would be a handy thing to have especially for playing slow airs, etc. I'll at least make one of them, there may be features necessary that I haven't thought of so looking for opinions and this is the first place I thought of for that.

 

Well?

 

Lars

 

Both Steve Bradley (English concertina player) and I use Shruti boxes for drones. Mine's a fairly standard one, with a chromatic octave upwards from middle C. The bottom note on Steve's is baritone G, I think, so his is lower-pitched and richer in tone, and therefore probably more use when combined with a concertina; Steve plays his with his feet while playing English concertina, while I tend to use mine on its own, just for singing to.

 

I'm curious as to what custom features you think you might need or want, though.

 

Edited to say - drone instruments are tremendously compelling and addictive things... I have tremendous affection for both my Shruti box and my Indian Harmonium, to the extent that my Shruti box even has a name: "Estragon", after the character in Waiting For Godot... if I ever get a lower-pitched one like Steve's it'll be called Vladimir :lol:

Edited by stuart estell

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Hi Stuart,

Well, actually I was thinking more of a modified, smaller harmonium type box with 2 reed banks (bass & male). Levers to select the notes, could possible even try to have a chamber for bagpipe drones? Probably stick with just harmonium reeds to start. I'd like to have some sort of pressure regulator so you could run the bellows in time without overfilling, things like that. It's just something I've wanted to do so I'll have one made and post the results late in the winter whenever it gets done.

How does it work with the Sruti box and your feet? Don't the reeds get muffled? I've never actually played one before but have had lots of harmoniums, never got around to naming them though. Thanks for the input!

 

Lars

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if I ever get a lower-pitched one like Steve's it'll be called Vladimir :lol:

 

Translation of "Vladimir" would be "Weltmeister".

Hm. :blink:

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Hi Stuart,

Well, actually I was thinking more of a modified, smaller harmonium type box with 2 reed banks (bass & male). Levers to select the notes, could possible even try to have a chamber for bagpipe drones? Probably stick with just harmonium reeds to start. I'd like to have some sort of pressure regulator so you could run the bellows in time without overfilling, things like that. It's just something I've wanted to do so I'll have one made and post the results late in the winter whenever it gets done.

How does it work with the Sruti box and your feet? Don't the reeds get muffled? I've never actually played one before but have had lots of harmoniums, never got around to naming them though. Thanks for the input!

 

Lars

 

What Steve does is rest the Shruti box vertically on the floor, but sideways-on, with a foot resting on the top of it to apply downward pressure to stop it from moving. He then uses his other foot to work the filling bellows from towards the bottom of the front panel, near a corner. You don't get any noticeable muffling.

 

There's a recording of him doing this on my website if you're interested: http://stuartestell.co.uk/2007/05/21/pink-...-steve-bradley/

 

I've tried doing the same with my Shruti box and it's not too hard to do - trouble is that mine is quite a loud one, so adding it to concertina or guitar means using a lot of air when singing to try and be heard!

 

You've probably already thought this, but however you design it, I'd definitely say make it sound quieter than you think you need to. I'd prefer my Shruti box if it had the volume of my harmonium's drones, as it does tend to dominate proceedings a bit!!

 

Edited to add one last thought: I find that pumping the bellows in time with the music without overfilling them _is_ possible, but just takes a bit of practise to get used to regulating the pressure yourself. So you can probably get away without building a pressure regulator into it, I would have thought.

Edited by stuart estell

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Lars, if you're interested, the low-pitch shruti box Steve uses is the G box featured on this page:

 

http://www.soundtravels.co.uk/erol.html#34...K%257CcountryGB

 

Mine is the "deluxe" shruti box sold by Jas Musicals, the bottom item on this page:

 

http://www.jas-musicals.com/sectrad/Harmonium-cases.asp

 

 

Thanks for the links Stuart..! I'll PM you.....

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This is probably a stupid question... But are shruti boxes played with the feet?? Are you able to play the tina and the shruti at the same time??

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This is probably a stupid question... But are shruti boxes played with the feet?? Are you able to play the tina and the shruti at the same time??

 

Not a stupid question, i don't know either. At lest you had the guts to ask. :D

 

Alan

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This is probably a stupid question... But are shruti boxes played with the feet?? Are you able to play the tina and the shruti at the same time??

 

Not a stupid question, i don't know either. At lest you had the guts to ask. :D

 

Alan

 

 

Yes, they use the Sruti box with the feet. The way I want to have it done is with a foot bellows, sort of like a bass drum pedal so you could run the box without much thought or effort using either foot so there would be no interference with the knee you rest your instrument on.

 

Lars

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a more high tech way to go may be something along the lines of a moog taurus, or what I have, a roland pk5 with a sound module ( I have an oberheim matrix).

This is a one octave midi organ pedal synth..

 

Of course being all high tech it does not lend it self easily to portability and playing in the woods accoustically.

But, it does give you a lot of sound options, and you would not feel like you ran a marathon pumping a bellows with your foot at the end of the gig..

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a more high tech way to go may be something along the lines of a moog taurus, or what I have, a roland pk5 with a sound module ( I have an oberheim matrix).

This is a one octave midi organ pedal synth..

 

Of course being all high tech it does not lend it self easily to portability and playing in the woods accoustically.

But, it does give you a lot of sound options, and you would not feel like you ran a marathon pumping a bellows with your foot at the end of the gig..

 

 

Yeah, if you go electronic then there are endless options of course but I rather have an acoustic instrument!

 

Lars

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And of course, the Shruti box produces real live harmonics, being made of wood and metal and stuff... :)

 

People seem to forget we play concertina and other boxes because they are acoustic. The charm of an acoustic instrument will never be replaced.

 

Electronic instruments are great, but for the performer the charm in my opinion is lost. The listener may not be able to tell if it was a synth or sample or whatever, but the performer knows.

 

Have you ever seen a MIDI synth concert? I have. Boring!

 

In this age of power failures, the humble acoustic instrument plays on while the rioters run amuck.

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In this age of power failures, the humble acoustic instrument plays on while the rioters run amuck.

Absolutely!

 

I was in New York City during the second big blackout. Louis Killen was doing a concert on the pier at South Street Seaport. I glanced upriver, and saw a flood of blackness flowing toward us down both sides of the river. When it reached us a few seconds later, all the lights went out and the sound system went dead. There was a big cheer from the audience; then we all moved in closer to the stage, and Louis continued his concert.

 

Afterward I took buses (which were still running) up and across town to the Eagle Tavern, where there was supposed to be a session. The only lights inside were a candle on the (mechanical) cash register and a flashlight being handed to those using the ladies' room (none for the gents). The back room was completely dark... and full of music. Acoustic, of course! :)

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And of course, the Shruti box produces real live harmonics, being made of wood and metal and stuff... :)

 

People seem to forget we play concertina and other boxes because they are acoustic. The charm of an acoustic instrument will never be replaced.

 

Electronic instruments are great, but for the performer the charm in my opinion is lost. The listener may not be able to tell if it was a synth or sample or whatever, but the performer knows.

 

Have you ever seen a MIDI synth concert? I have. Boring!

 

In this age of power failures, the humble acoustic instrument plays on while the rioters run amuck.

 

Although I'd put in a good word at this point for ageing and temperamental analogue synths, which I always think of as honorary acoustic instruments, as they've undeniably got personality!

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