Artist's Story: Kosmosky



1) What is your back story and why do you do what you do?

2) How did you get started, and how are the drums made?
 
3) Where do you come from, stand for? 

Translated to English from Russian

1) Hello there! My name is Alexey, I work at Kosmosky Workshop and I’m really into music. Music has always been my passion, I wanted not only to listen to it, but also to perform, improvise and create it.

The history of our company goes back to 2013, when I saw a mysterious musical instrument called a hangdrum somewhere on the web. I was immediately fascinated by its sound and appearance. The performer’s fingers were tapping a rhythm on the instrument’s body and the notes created a marvelous melody.

Back then I wasn’t well-versed in music, but had quite a good sense of rhythm, so I thought that I could learn to play the hang drum and started searching for an appropriate instrument. I went through lots of forums, but didn’t succeed in finding any meaningful information. I also realized that a hang drum was very expensive and difficult to get. However, during my searching I bumped into an analogue of the aforesaid hang drum and it was a tank drum! At the same time I found some articles explaining how to make a DIY tank drum from an old propane tank.

That wet and cold winter I decided to make a tank drum with my own hands. First of all, within some weeks I sifted through all available articles and videos to learn all the details about the making process. Even though I’d never handled an angle grinder before and wasn’t familiar with notes (I knew only the names of 7 musical notes), I had an enormously strong desire to do it. Luckily my friends and my brother helped me. We took an old propane tank, cut its bottoms off, cleaned them off to strip old paint, welded them together, drew the lobes configuration and cut lobes through, and then dealt with the notes. Thus we gave birth to our first tank drum and it began to sound beautifully.

After some months of learning to play the first tank drum we decided to make the second one, but of a different shape and size and with a different tuning. Then we made our third, fourth and fifth instruments. In the meantime we came across some people who wanted to buy a tank drum, so it cheered us up and helped to carry on experimenting with different shapes and sizes.

Our first team members were the people who actually participated in the production process. We bought old propane tanks, sawed and cleaned them off, welded, tuned and then played our instruments. When playing we were also engaged with people, those people said kind and warm words to us, they told us how wonderful and amazing it all was and believed we were doing something special. With every single word of recognition we were getting an incredible energy boost which kept us going to develop our movement. We realized that we could make beautiful and awesomely sounding instruments. We could make them for people’s benefit. We also realized that we could develop our team, engage artists, musicians and technical employees, increase the quality of the instruments and broaden our horizons. Moreover, we could travel, meet new people and feel that we contribute to the world we live in.

It goes without saying that the best work team is a team of friends. Therefore, as our team was growing I tried to understand exactly what kind of people we needed at the moment, found such people among my friends and invited them to work with us. It’s really important that team members should be enthusiastic and passionate about what they do, should be excited and interested in shared purposes and mutual goals. Today our team consists of 17 people and we are going ahead!

 

2) As I have already mentioned above, we started making tank drums from old propane tanks. Now we use steel workpieces, they are those tank bottoms, but now the steel is newly made as we buy ex works bottoms. Such fresh steel sounds better and stays in tune longer, so the quality of our instruments has become higher.

            In accordance with our production process we have also changed the system of lobe cutting. Previously we used to mark lobes out in manual way, but today we use high-tech equipment allowing to mark lobes out very accurately and symmetrically, which definitely contributes to the acoustic properties of our instruments. However, tank drums are tuned manually by a craftsman and it will be always so, as it is the most important production stage.

            Besides, we have involved a newsworthy feature in our production. It’s metal pickling (engraving). Now we design and transfer (indent) various pictures to tank drums: from geometric patterns and fractals to portraits and landscape drawings. Our team includes a high-skilled designer who brings into being our ideas and the ideas of our customers. Tank drum engraving is not only lovely and nice to the touch; it also attaches individuality and importance to the instrument, and gives meaning to it; the drawing brings energy to the tank drum. When you are in contact with the instrument, you feel this energy and get juices flowing.

            Tank drum tuning is also exciting. A tank drum is an instrument where all the notes are confined just in its body and closely interrelated. When you bang a lobe, the proximate ones also sound; they either complement the main speech or discord with it (in other words, are in dissonance), thus it shows the quality of instrument tuning. Basically there are a lot of tuning variations, plenty of different harmonies and tonalities and each of them reflects a particular mood. The sound can be light and serene or mournful and pensive, mysterious or merry. It can show some ethnic background or be based on ancient music modes, reproduce Indian, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Greek or other themes.

            When choosing a tank drum the person should primarily listen to it and feel how well its tuning is related to them, whether it resonates with and touches them. The matter of tank drum tuning remains the foremost for us, we explore and discover new horizons, study the music of antiquity nations and their harmony systems. To make a tank drum sound euphoniously and harmoniously, our sound engineers firstly elaborate a layout of notes for the lobes and after that give it to our craftsmen for further tuning. Then everything depends on the craftsman, as every note has its particular number value measured in hertz (Hz), and the craftsman has to tune a tank drum as accurately as possible, as any deviation from the precise value causes micro-discords and influences on the sound quality.

 

3) Geographically we are located in Bryansk, Russia, but we are globally minded people on the inside.