(Last Updated on : 13/09/2014)
Surpeti is not an original instrument, and is heavily based and influenced on another Indian wind instrument
called the Harmonium, which is a reed organ with hand pumped bellows (tubes). The main difference between surpeti and harmonium
is that the surpeti is keyless, unlike the Harmonium which has keys. This modified version of the Harmonium was simply made for producing a drone sound to accompany singing, chanting, or any other type of voice.
Surpeti, ever since its inception has changed a lot. Previously there used to be acoustic Surpetis, but now there are electric ones available as well. As a result of this specific change, the method of playing the instrument and the sound it emits is also changing. The Surpeti or shruti box was not originally used in India but it soon became the most popular in India by far.
This instrument is very famous in India, but it is also very popular in countries like Scotland and Ireland. The first famous person to play the Surpeti was the poet, Allen Ginsberg, using it to go along with his poetry readings.
However, the contemporary or modern version of Surpeti is a compressed electronic device which is battery-powered. It has an integrated loudspeaker and the required electronics to produce the drone. Almost all these electronic musical instruments allow fine tuning and adjustments. During a live concert, the sound of sruti box is fed via a microphone to the audio mixer. Rarely does one come across a sruti box which can be wired directly into the input of the mixer unit. In the early 1990s, traditional Irish singer Noirin Ni Riain brought the sruti box to Ireland, giving it a minor place in traditional Irish music.