The City Magazine Since 1975

Beat Boxer

Beat Boxer
March 2011
Woodworker Adam Crowell blends art and music with his own riff on the traditional tongue drum

Asingle wood drum (that could be taken for a finely crafted sculpture) is all Adam Crowell needs to beat out an acoustic chorus reminiscent of soft calypso and steel drums. Combining his love of percussion and a lifelong knack for handiwork encouraged by his father, a hobbyist carpenter, the local musician and woodworker sculpts melodic African tongue drums that blend rhythm and song into a single artful percussion piece. Crafted with unstained exotic woods such as African mahogany, Brazilian cherry, Canary, and purpleheart, his six-, 10-, and 12-note boxed drums have caught the attentions of both percussionists and art aficionados. Last year, the 28-year-old invented the Songa, a sweet-sounding drum that boasts the tonal variety of an entire drum circle. It can be played using hands or mallets, drawing a meditative scale out of key-like tongues cut into the different wood grains. “I can hush a noisy venue just by playing a few notes on the Songa,” says the artisan. “People are often surprised at the melody that can come from a wood drum.”

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Boxed Music in the studio from Boxed Music Drums on Vimeo.

Songa from Boxed Music Drums on Vimeo.