Raj Musicals 6 string Saarang Electronic TamburaOn the 28th of October 1998 I heard Dhruba Ghosh perform in Nijmegen. The concert was magnificent, and somewhere I’ve still got the bootleg recording. What intrigued me was the ‘radio’ he turned on at the start of the concert. A bit of tuning was done on the drone this 70’s style looking radio produced and off we were. I saw and heard what I later discovered to be my first Shruti box. Interestingly enough a shruti (Sanskrit) is considered to be the smallest interval of pitch that the human ear can detect¹. Which, by the way, was first explained in the West by Harvey Fletcher in the 40’s by the term critical band².


My search for my very own Shruti box started soon after first hearing and seeing it. The Grondtoon sessions and many other projects kept leading me back to finding this wonderful drone machine. But it wasn’t until December 2012 that I found one in New Jersey. It is an original 6 string Saarang Electronic Tambura made by Raj Musicals, Bangalore, India. Probably made somewhere in the late 70’s / early 80’s, and still in mint condition.


I’ve played around with it a little, inspired by Rāg Jhinjhoti played by Hariprasad Chaurasia (another bootleg I recorded from the Concert Zender in 1999). And as you can hear it doesn’t sound like a Tambura at all. Instead it has its own character, the character of my first and very own electronic synthesiser.




¹ Shruti (music) – Wikipedia

² Critical band – Wikipedia