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Music of Nepal

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Music of Nepal

Music of Nepal
General topics
Specific forms
Media and performance
Music festivals Goon lā
Music media
Nationalistic and patriotic songs
National anthem "Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka"
Gramophone record of the song Danchhi ya alu by Madhan Krishna Shrestha.

Music of Nepal refers to the various musical genres of Nepal. With more than fifty ethnicity, the music of this country is a highly dispersed phenomenon. Although genres like pop, rock, Nep-hop ko bato, 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 of music in Nepal is a very short one. In 1908, maestro Seturam Shrestha became the first Nepalese artiste to record a song on gramophone disc. Nepal got its first radio station Radio Nepal in 1952. Since then, it has helped to promote many key figures in the field.

Nepali Music Genres


Dohori music is Nepali folk songs. It is a very unique style of music. Dohori 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 a long periods of time, even up to a week long. The length of the Dohori depends on the quick thinking ability of the players.

Aadhunik geet

Aadhunik geet or modern songs are popular songs in Nepal. Its also known as sugam sangeet. These type of songs are soft and melodious.

Nepalese hip hop (Nep-hop)

Nep-hop is a modern genre of Nepal which represents Nepali hiphop music.

Ethnic Music in Nepal

Newar music

Newa Music or Newar Music, is traditional music developed in Nepal by the Newars. The musical instruments mainly consist of percussion and wind instruments.

Gurung Music

Gurungs 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. Jyoti Gurung is considered as the finest Gurung singer from this community. She has contributed the most number of Gurung film songs than any other artist.

Kirat 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. Khambu celebrate Sakela and Sakewa which are sometime wrongly referred as Chandi Naach. Chandi is Hindu goddess and is not related in any way with Kirat culture. 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 gatherings.

Tamang Music

Tamang community is well known for Damphu, a 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, Kaura and Sorathi are the three unique and exclusive musical genre of Magar music.

Sherpa Music

Sherpa Music is based on Tibetan Buddhism. This is identical to Music of Tibet around the trans-Himalayan region. First and foremost Tibetan music is religious music, reflecting the profound influence of Tibetan Buddhism on the culture.

Maithili Music

Maithali music is one of the ancient music existing in south Asia and even in Nepal. It has a very great histoy and has many aspects. No one knows from when the maithali music came into existence since it has a very long history. Mithila was an independent nation ruled by the king Janak and it was used then also so it might have become one of the boon for other music developed and flourished here in Nepal. Malla kings in Kathmandu were very fund of music and since maithali songs were very popular at its time they also used to enjoy it. maithali musing includes different instruments specially classical. Now the maithali songs has been modernized and has been using different modern instruments. so in short maithali song has its own identity and has been flourished on its own basis. Some of the great contributor to it are Maha kabi vidhyapati jha, Udit Narayan Jha, Binit Thakur, Rama Mandal.

Imported Music

Musicians singing devotional songs

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


A Bhajan is any type of devotional song. It has no fixed form: it may be as simple as a mantra or kirtan. It is normally lyrical, expressing love and pray for the Divine. Shiva, Krishna, Vishnu, Sai Baba bhajan are popular in Nepal.

Filmi music

Filmi music is popular music as written and performed for cinema. Since history of cinema of Nepal is not so long the filmi music is developing. As Bollywood movies are also popular in Nepali urban areas Nepali filmi music heavily inspired by Indian filmi music. Music directors make up the main body of composers; and the songs are performed by playback singers.


The ghazal is a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter. A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The form is ancient, originating in 6th-century Arabic verse. The ghazal spread into South Asia in the 12th century due to the influence of Sufi mystics and the courts of the new Islamic Sultanate. Although the ghazal is most prominently a form of Dari poetry and Urdu poetry, today it is found in the poetry of many languages of the Indian sub-continent. Motiram Bhatta introduced the written form of Ghazal in Nepali language in 1890. Seturam Shrestha (1891-1941) has been credited with pioneering ghazal music in Nepal. The tradition of singing ghazals has been gaining popularity in the last few years.

Western Music

  • Rock & Roll (Introduced by the Hippies)
  • Blues
  • Rock
  • Electronic Music
  • Metal
  • Pop
  • Rap/Soul


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 (Nepal) 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


  1. ^ Indian Idol 2007 Prashant Tamang and Nepalese pop idol Raju Lama pose in New York
  • 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

  • News and Updates from Nepali Music Industry.
  • Carol Tingey Nepalese folk and ritual music recordings
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