The instrument traditionally works on a system of bellows and is mainly used in classical music. The Surpeti is used by both Hindustani and Carnatic musicians.
History of Surpeti
Ever since its conception, the Surpeti has evolved over time and before its arrival in the Indian subcontinent, musicians used either a tambura or a specific pitch reference instrument, such as the nadaswaram, to produce the drone. There are two basic forms of Surpeti, one is the manual, which is similar to the harmonium and the other one is the electronic.
With advances in digital technology, the electronic ones have evolved and produce sounds and character that are similar to that of a tambura. And these versions are referred to as ‘electronic tamburas’. These electronic Surpeti 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 from the Surpeti is fed via a microphone to the audio mixer. Rarely does one come across a Surpeti which can be wired directly into the input of the mixer unit.
In the early 1990s, traditional Irish singer Noirin Ni Riain brought the Surpeti to Ireland, giving it a minor place in traditional Irish music.
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