Music in Nepal, Musicians, Artists

Nepal is a country of great diversity with 36 ethnic groups, several language groups and many religions. The music of Nepal is just as motley, ranging from folk music to music associated with religious activities, classical music and a collection of contemporary styles. Songs and music videos from Nepal can be downloaded on the Internet and are a great way to immerse yourself in Nepali culture.

Nepalese music has been largely influenced by musicians from Hindustan and Tibet. Due to its close association with Indian culture, Nepal too has various musician castes. Women only play music in certain circumstances such as for all-female wedding parties. Damai are a caste who are tailors and musicians. Damai are mostly involved in panchai baja, a type of wedding band. Instruments used for such celebrations include horns, shawms, cymbals and drums. The band has to perform a particular tune or piece of music for each specific section of the traditional wedding ceremony. On the other hand you get the gaine who were fishermen at first but have become traveling minstrels. The gaine will play musical performances for audiences and are paid with food and/or other needed goods. A sarangi is the instrument of choice for the gaine. It is a handicrafted musical instrument with four strings.

The Newars are likely the best known musicians of Nepal who perform folk and classical music along with dancing. Practically all important events, feasts, ceremonies and festivals are accompanied by the music and dancing of Nepal’s Newars. The masked dances of the Newar people tell intricate stories about the gods as well as great heroes. Songs and musical instruments are associated with particular aspects of the Newars’ life. Newar music features strong percussion with added flutes or shawms along with powerful, nasal singing.

There are a large number of musical instruments in Nepal, 108 to be exact. Nepalese musical instruments are classified into four groups, these are: Membranophones, idiophones, chordophones and aerophones. All these instruments contribute to the unique sounds of Nepal’s music. The music of Nepal is an integral part of this country’s diverse culture, so why not try to locate some Nepalese musicians during your visit.

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