Heritage - Music of Nepal

Music Issue 82 Jul, 2010
Text by Nandita Rana

Owing to their historic and natural eminence, ten places in Nepal have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. They include the Hindu temples of Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan, the Buddhist stupas of Swoyambhu and Boudhanath in the Kathmandu Valley, and Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini, in the Terai. Also listed are the Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan and the natural sites of Mount Everest and the Royal Chitwan National park. The album Heritage–Music of Nepal depicts these monumental places musically by delving creatively and musically into their unique cultural roots. The album is a compilation of classical tunes performed by some of the renowned musical groups of Kathmandu

It includes performances by Surva, Vajra, Prastar, Ason Gunla Baajan Khala, and Buddha’s Eyes.  Bishwo Shahi and friends, Suresh Bajracharya and friends, Tara Bir Singh Tuladhar with the Annapurna group and Shree Om are other artists featured in the album. All of the songs use folk instruments such as sarangi (a stringed instrument), maadal, damfu and dholak (hand drums), dhimey (struck drum), jhyali (a percussion instrument), sitar, flute and others that serve to characterize a musical heritage as diverse as the heritage sites.

The Newari culture of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan mark the musical influence of the three respective Durbar Squares. This is demonstrated by the use of traditional instruments like sarangi, flute, tabala and taa (idiophones). Similarly, the musical traditions of the Sherpas, featuring damfu beats, represent Mount Everest, called Sagarmatha in Nepali (meaning ‘Ocean Head’). Representing the Boudhanath stupa is Bishwo Shahi and friends, who create musical fusion with the meditative sounds of singing bowl merged with Buddhist chants.

The artist Tara Bir Singh Tuladhar portrays Lumbini, the birth place of Gautam Buddha, with devotional tunes from traditional instruments like sitar and tanpura (a stringed instrument) that seemingly epitomize the Buddhist philosophy of peace and non-existence. The famous Pashupatinath temple is depicted by powerful chants revering the Hindu deity Shiva, as performed by the artist Shree Om. The musical illustration of a Newari Jatra (street festival) and the heritage of Swoyambhunath stupa are presented by using the dhimey drum, clarinet and trumpet.

In these creative ways, the CD Heritage–Music of Nepal introduces the ten world heritage sites of Nepal and travels along them through a lasting musical journey. Each site is represented by instruments and styles of music that reflect the ethnic groups associated with it. The album was recorded at Studio 2000, Kantipath, and produced by CDing international P. Ltd., with artist Bishwo Shahi as the main recordist. It is marketed online at Dhukuti.com. 

Available at tik ‘n’ tok, New Road, 4228679, and at all leading music stores in Kathmandu. The CS is available for NRs 450.