Music of Nepal

Music of Nepal
Music of Nepal: Topics
Ethnic music Newa music - Gurung music - Tamang music - Khas music - Mithila music - Sunuwar music - Magar music - Bhojpuri music - Sherpa music - Thakali music - Chepang music - Rai music - Tibetan music - Lepcha music - Limbu music - Kusunda music
Genres Dapa - Dohari - Selo - Bhajan - Rodhi - Adhunik Sangeet - Rock - Hip hop
Festivals Goon lā
Instruments Dhimay - Bhusyah - Madal - Sarangi - Damfoo - Dholak - Chyambrung - Bansuri
Media Radio Nepal, Hits FM, Image FM
National anthem "Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka"

Music of Nepal refers to the various musical genres of Nepal. With more than fifty ethnicities, the music of this country is a highly dispersed phenomenon. Although genres like pop, rock, folk, and Classical music exist, a huge number of such genres are yet to be cataloged. Many musical bands exist in Nepal, with a huge number in Kathmandu - most of the recent ones focused in pop and rock. Rap has been known to emerge on the charts from time to time.



Medieval era

Newari Music developed and flourished during this era. The Malla kings were known for their interest in arts. Drama created during those era are accompanied by music. Many of the guthis of Kathmandu valley have their origin in this era. These guthis maintain the musical genres established during that era. Dāpā music, a type of Newari bhajan is believed to have originated in this era.

Modern history

The modern history is a very short one. At times when big and private music companies where mushrooming the Western cities, Kathmandu got its first radio station, Radio Nepal in the year 1952. Since then Radio Nepal has expanded to become the dominant radio station all over the country, which helped in the uprising of many key figures in the field, notably Shiva Shankar, Natikaji, Narayan Gopal, Arun Thapa Magar (also known as Arun Thapa) , Dharma Raj Thapa, Jhalak Man Gandarva, and in the female arena Koili Devi Mathema, Tara Devi, Aruna Lama.

Those music genres which have roots in Nepal can be considered as indigenous Nepalese music. This includes:-

Newari music

Khas Music

In the Khas society traditionally, castes like Damai, used to play a number of instruments for occasions such as marriage. However, with many villages now having television, radio and even a local FM station, such accounts are declining gradually. The minstrels, gaine, used to play instruments like Sarangi but even the Gaine are declining in number. A special type of Khas music called Deuda is played in Far West and Mid West.

Deuda Music

Deuda is one type of music having variety of genre including Thadi Bhakha, Raheri and other, presented in western region of Nepal. Specially this type of music present in Sudur paschim, and many regions of madhya-paschim.

Gurung Music

The Gurung have a very rich tradition of music and culture. Gurungs have an ancient tradition of Rodhi where young people meet, sing and dance to folk songs, and share their views. Young men and women at Rodhi often sing call-and-response songs called dohori, which are largely improvised. Some musical dances like Ghantu and Chudka are still in existence, and are still performed in many Gurung villages. These dances are many hundreds of years old, and are performed either solo or in a group. Music also plays a big role in the Gurung ritual of Argum, which is performed when someone in the community dies.

These traditions are still very much alive in rural Gurung villages. Gurung films are also popularizing some of these songs and dances.

Kirant Music

The Yakthungs (Limbu) have various forms of dance, songs and musical instruments. Of them, Dhaan Nach (paddy dance) and Chya:brung (Dhol Nach "drum dance") are popular symbolics. Rais celebrate Sakela and Sakewa which are also known as Chandi Naach. Many form of their dance involve rituals or religious offerings towards Mundhum (native Kiranti religion). Traditional dance and songs are also practiced for weddings, festivals or simply gatherings.

Tamang Music

Tamang community is well known for Damphu, traditional instrument. Tamang selo music is based on the usage of Damphu and Tungna. It is said that British people got an idea of making Drum Sets from Damphu during their stay at India. Western and Indian instruments are also found in some modern Tamang Selo music. Recently due to the re-mixing trend of classic Nepali songs, Tamang Selo tuned songs like changba hoi changba, Man chadey Maichyang lai have been a hit in Nepali radio stations. Also, Modern artists like Sindhu Malla, Raju Lama,[1] Avinash Ghising, Roj Moktan, Bijay Lama, etc. have used Tamang Selo tunes in their songs and those songs have also been a hit.

Magar Music

Salai Jo and Sorathi are the two unique and exclusive musical genre of Magar music.

Sherpa Music

Maithili Music

Imported Music

The musical genres which was introduced to Nepal from outside and thrived here can be considered as imported music. This contains:-

Nepali Music

  • Bhajan
  • Filmi music


In Nepal there are different kind of music. Among them one cultural type of song is called dohori. Dohori is Nepali Folk song. This is unique type of song in world. Dohoro means from two side,or a debate. This debate is in rhythm, and involves quick and witty poetry.The two teams in Dohori usually involves boys in one group girls in the other.The song is started with a question usually from the boys side. The girl follows the question with a quick response and continues the musical conversation. Dohori songs can last for long time. The length of the Dohari depends on the quick thinking ability of the players. Some Doharis have lasted as long as seven days. People celebrate the entire night singing the Dohari.They start singing in evening and end at dawn. Love and marriage are usually the topic of the debate. The male expresses his love or feelings to the girl in the song and girl may or may not respond positively for various reasons.

An example of one Dohori conversation is given below:

Boy-Hey girl you are beautiful with long hair

   Give your life to me and of you I will take care.

Girl-How can you ask for my life I am worried

    I have two child and I am already married.

Boy- Come with me I will take care of your child and you

    I will always love you, don't worry we won't have child anew

Girl-Hey don't talk nonsense,I am not your and never be

    Beware, of my husband's kick who is sitting behind me

by Bikash Raj Sharma,,

Western Music

  • Rock & Roll (Introduced by the Hippies)
  • Blues
  • Rock
  • Electronic Music


With the growth and development of Nepali music industry, different award ceremonies began being held in different parts of the country, some of them being focused on local talents. The awards of National standard are held each year by media houses, mainly Hits FM and Image FM.

Annual Hits FM Music Awards

Hits FM was established in April 1996 with the intention to help the music industry grow beyond what it was. Since then, Hits Nepal Pvt. Ltd., the parent organization and the event organizer of Hits Awards has been greatly involving in encouraging and promoting Nepali artists and music. Then came the concept of further involvement through Annual Hits FM Music Awards, which was held for the first time in 2054 BS (1998 AD) with seven categories to award, and it became the first ever musical award to be organized by a private company in national level. The award ceremony celebrated its 14th birthday recently, with artists awarded in 19 categories, including the prestigious Life Time Achievement Award (awarded to a senior member of music industry for their contribution for the development of Nepali music), and performances by top Nepali artists. The songs and albums nominated in each category are based on the votes of the public and the winner is then evaluated by an independent panel of judges.

See also


  • Tingey, Carol. "The Hills Are Alive". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 2: Latin & North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific, pp 198–202. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0

External links

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