shruti box

Winter Program Taiwan

Check out all the activities for the coming months.

scroll down for full details in English and Chinese.


Live Talk about Latency Project

Saturday October 23, Lin’s Culture Taipei


First presentation of new group YiWoYu (invitation only)

October 30, Beitou


Concerts with Lee Shih-Yang and Arnaud Lechat

November 13, December 15 Taipei


Workshop:  Shruti Days

November 20 + 21, Taipei


Shruti Box market

Tuesday November 23, Taipei


Sounding Out! concert

November 27, Taipei


Concert with Hans de Back in Taichung

Monday December 6, 2:30-4:15, Taichung: Social Innovation Unit


Concert: Latency with Oorbeek and Kao Dao Yin

19 december, Wen Shui, Taipei


Postponed: Dulan Voice Yoga Retreat

Due to pandemic. Stay tuned for updates.






Live Talk about Latency Project

Saturday October 23, Lin’s Culture Taipei

Presenting the concert with Oorbeek and Ka Dao Yin on December 19.



First presentation of new group YiWoYu (invitation only)

This year saw the founding of a new group around the workshop I have led throughout the years. The first concerts were cancelled due to the pandemic, so on October 3o we will hold a small informal presentation in Beitou of the things we have been working on this year.





Concerts with Lee Shih-Yang and Arnaud Lechat

Two concerts with a jazz trio with Taiwanese pianist Lee Shih-Yang, sax/clarinet player Arnaud Lechat 貓阿諾 and Dutch vocalist Mark Van Tongeren.

2021-11-13(六) 19:30 ~ 21:30

鳴石音樂空間 (台灣台北市仁愛路二段34號5F)





Workshop:  Singing and Shruti Days

For those who are busy during the week and prefer weekends, there is a short, two-day workshop

November 20 + 21, Taipei

FB event version:

Register form:
(See English version at the bottom.)
꧁ 2021 吟唱與印度風琴工作坊 ꧂ —- 人聲 / 旋律 / 持續長音 —-
2021年 11月20日(六)、21日(日)
第一天 ༝ 14:00-21:00
第二天 ༝ 09:30-16:30
台北  表演36房 4F音樂能量房
中文 Clémentine
line: meimanghuang
English Mark / Facebook / Phone 09 103 827 49
Vocals, melodies and drones
Learn to free your voice using a simple drone instrument. The main aim of these two days is to learn to improvise melodies, explore vocal timbres and voice textures with a shruti box. For example: how to invent new motifs and phrases on the spot? How to use different scales (even if you cannot read notes)? How can you combine the voice and shruti box drones? With many demo’s, exercises and your own explorations we will hear and see that vocal improvisations with a drone make you a better musician and more skilled sound explorer.
You will go home with plenty of new ideas and experiences to start or enrich an enjoyable, adventurous singing practise.
* What the shruti box can do for you
* How to use the Shruti box
* How to start exploring your voice, using a drone instrument?
* Working with diffferent timbres and vowels
* What is this kind of singing good for?
* Why reading notes is not necessary to become a good singer
* How to start and develop improvising melodies with a drone?
* Following intuitions. Developing skills
* Seeing through common illusions about music
* Invent new motifs and phrases on the spot
* Where to start when you think you cannot sing?
* How to tap into embodied knowledge that you never use?
* How to become a good listener?
* Develop improvisations together
* Understanding and using basic scales and intervals
Watch a video of Mark playing shruti box here:
– people who feel a lack of creative output
– people looking for a deeper connection with themselves and others
Your own shruti box, or you can borrow one.
Saturday November 20, 14:00-21:00
Sunday November 21, 9:30-16:30
4F Music Energy Room,
Performing Art School 36,
Taipei City.
For more details, please contact
In English: Mark / Facebook / Phone 09 103 827 49
In Chinese: Clémentine
Line: meimanghuang






After a long wait because of Covid 19, our supplier in India finally sent a new batch of shruti boxes, which has just arrived.

Tuesday November 23, at Canjune, Taipei, 4-6 PM.

We have various shruti boxes tuned on multiple pitches andin  two different sizes. Come and check it out.

The shruti box can be used for all kinds of purposes: playing for yourself or with others, learning more about musical structure and harmony, or free play.

The types we mostly have are the first one, the high quality Paloma – others are mostly sold out now.






Sounding Out!  發聲音樂會

November 27, 14:30-16:30, NEIHU, Taipei


A long-cherished plan of mine is becoming reality soon: an event where pro’s and amateurs can share the stage, where inspiration runs freely, where singing meets dancing, where movement meets instruments, where laughter and cries meet silence.

Catching the spirit of the moment, a phrase already in use at my first concert in Taiwan in 2003, remains the best description, but the format is now more refined, more inclusive, and more exciting than ever before. This is not a workshop but a performance that you can enjoy from beginning to end. And yet it is not a normal performance since you can join in at various stages, but only if the spirit of the moment catches you. No obligation to join, but my teammates and I cannot guarantee you keep on sitting still with your mouth shut once you are there.

Come and try this out, we have arranged for a fantastic large space that invites anyone’s inspiration to run free. To turn this into a success we need plenty of creative individuals joining (which has mostly been taken care off) as well as plenty of audience for foot-tapping, humming, applause and sharing that magic silence after an apotheosis.

November 27, 14:30-16:30, doors open 14:00.

Various ticket prices from 420 to 700 NT$

Location:  Hao Hao Shuo Hua, Neihu.

For the full details please go to…/sounding-out-%e7%99%bc…/





Click here

2021年 11月 27日 (六)
■□□□□□□□ S o u n d i n g – o u t !
《發聲音樂會》 ■■■■■■■□
Mark Van Tongeren長期在心裡醞釀的計畫。
11/4 12:00 早鳥啟售
請上「口袋售票」搜尋:Sounding out!發聲音樂會,加入會員即可購票!…/sounding-out-%e7%99%bc…/



Concert with Hans de Back in Taichung

Date: Dec. 6th (mon)
Performance time: 2:30~3:45pm
+ QA and sharing: 3:45~4:15pm (0.5hr)
Taichung Social Innovation Unit
      7F., No. 291-3, Jingwu Rd. North Dist., Taichung City, Taiwan

More information and reservations: Una Kao:




Concert #2 with Lee Shih-Yang  and Arnaud Lechat

歌謠之外 More Than Songs

臺大藝文中心雅頌坊 (臺北市羅斯福路四段一號)


Concert: Latency with Oorbeek and Kao Dao Yin

19 december, 8 PM, Wen Shui, Taipei

Details t.b.c.



Postponed: Dulan Voice Yoga  Retreat

Possible new date: mid January.






Shruti Box (af)fairs

This year I joined the Forest Fair and a World Music Fesival Fair in Taipei, and soon there is a Shruti Box Market coming up here in Taipei (details at the bottom): time for a little background story how I got into this. Scroll down for details of the Shruti Box Sale and Shruti Nights workshops coming up in December.

How I got shruti’d

Sometime in the early 2000s I got my first shruti box. It was brought to me from India on my request by my good friend Horst Timmers, aka DJ mpsPilot. At that time it was not tremendously popular, least of all in India, where everybody started switching to elecronic shruti boxes instead of the wooden thing. But I wanted something to accompany myself and others for singing and playing. Horst got me a fantastic instrument, that has done remarkably well for almost twenty years now without problems.

I love things handmade with a personal touch. When I compare mine to other shruti boxes it is quite different. Most shruti boxes you see now are rather flat with levers to select the tones on the side. They are on a panel that actually moves all the time you play it because it is part of the bellows. The one he got for me is more box-like, which it means it is more stable when standing up. The broader space on top is used for four round, turnable buttons, with three notes for each button. The flat type shows levers arranged like a neat piano scale on the side, and is indeed tuned chromatically like a piano: each next note is a semitone higher. If you like you can open as many levers as you like, all thirteen of them even, though usually two or three is more than enough. The box-type, on the contrary, allows for a selection of at most four notes, one for each turning knob. My first instrument features several double or even triple notes: the exact same note can be chose can be chosen by several knobs. When you chose to open, say, two A’s at the same time you get a nice phasing sound – an effect I really like and one that is very important in many traditions in South East Asia (see all the horns blown in pairs by Buddhist monks, for example).


After so many people asking me about my shruti box, I decided it was time to go to India and find more of them. For my students, and also in the case I might ever need a new one myself. Here in Taiwan they are hard to get by, and to ship them from Europe back to Asia did not seem to be a smart idea.

Finding new shruti boxes in India

In 2017 I went to South India, as plans to go to the North stranded for various reasons. I ended up finding the maker you see on the photo: he carried on the tradition from his father who had been making shruti boxes for decades. The qualities differed quite a bit and wasn’t tiptop altogether, but I was happy to find this same model I had been using for so many years, with the buttons on top. His note-layout was also different from what I had, more organised than my somewhat messy and perhaps quirky arrangement of pitches.



I decided to set out to get other models still through other means. That proved to be an interesting and risky adventure: the first batch of shruti boxes never arrived: the owner of the reputed company of instrument makers in North India was the target of cybercriminals who relayed the comunication, and I was the victim in terms of loss. I almost gave up but then decided to push it through.That was not an easy path either. I was carefull enough to get caught up in another fraud, but it turned out that a substantial part of every delivery of shruti boxes was unsellable because one or more tones were kaput: breathy tones, de-tuned notes, funny sounds, or just air without a sound at all. Yet I was eager to get my students into singing with shruti boxes and here in Taiwan there are no reliable import channels, it seems, so I pushed on.

So since this year I am selling  many types of shruti boxes here in Taiwan, mostly to people who joined my workshops. And sometimes it works the other way around, people are charmed by this simple musical tool and then join my monthly Shruti Nights workshop. As I  have tried to lay my hands on different types, the boxes now come in all kinds of sizes, shapes, colours, tunings, and qualities.


Repairing shruti boxes

With another market coming up and so many broken pieces, I decided it was time to see which of the broken shruti boxes could be fixed. I asked the help of one student-friend who bought two  instruments from me, an engineer who immediately took his box apart when he bought it in 2018. Yesterday we sat down to check them one by one, and found out what mistakes were made, how different they were depending on the brand, and what we could do about it. It was great fun, really, to spend a day learning about the mechanisms, and we managed to repair the majority of them.

Some basics


Although of Indian origin, the shruti box is now used for almost any kind of music and many different purposes. It is popular for healing and therapeutic music, music based on drones (see below), intuitive music making and improvising and all music genres.


The shruti box is a wind instrument from the Indian subcontinent. It is used for accompanying singers and instrumentalists. Traditionally, in much of Indian music, a stable, continuous tone (called a drone) provides the foundation for all the melodic variations. It is the beginning and end of all Indian music, litterally, as it starts before and finishes after other musicians do their parts.


The shruti box is powered by hand through the bellows, just like an accordeon. By opening one or more levers or turning a button the air passes by the brass reeds inside the instrument, producing one or more tones.


No skills are necessary, all you need to do is open the hooks and gently pump.


Most of these shruti boxes have adopted the Western chromatic tuning system, like a piano keyboard. Most of them actually run from c-c’ and are arranged exactly like a piano keyboard. Each adjacent lever is a semitone apart and the whole series covers all the twelve tones of the octave. The thirteenth lever or tone completes the octave. They are tuned roughly to the standard concert pitch of a = 440 Hz, but small deviations are common.


The shruti box is derived from the harmonium, a portable keyboard instrument introduced by the British in India. Local instrument makers copied harmoniums and eventually developed this new instrument by leaving out the keys, using only the ‘stops’ that provide drones. I haven’t been able to find much information about the shruti boxes yet, but there is a book about harmoniums by Birgit Abels detailing how the ancestor of the shruti box became part of the Indian musical landscape.




Shruti Box Market in Taipei


Looking for fine, original Indian shruti boxes to make music alone or together with your friends or group? I have about ten different models (size / tuning / quality) on offer and also some used, nearly new models. Come and check on December 3 when we bring them all over to the Canjune Training Center.



Watch a video of Mark singing and playing shruti box here:



Right after the sale the seventh series of Shruti Nights is starting. The Shruti Nights is also a general class for developing your own vocal improvisations, with or without a shruti box.