Nepal has quite a diverse culture, and its music reflects that. And because of its location between Tibet and India, their styles reflect these similarities. The larger ethnic groups have their own styles. Many cultures, including the Kirat culture, are known for their dances, which are often performed for festivals, weddings, and other religious functions. Sherpa music is very much influenced by Tibetan Buddhism music, and there aren’t many differences between the two. Maithili music is probably one of the oldest musical traditions in Nepal. Today, musicians use modern instruments, even though traditionally, Maithili music is played on traditional instruments.
There are certain genres of music that span more than one ethnic group. Dohori is a type singing game, typically between men and women. It’s more of a debate, I suppose. The idea is that the guys will start a line of poetry, done in rhythm, which asks a question. Without wasting a beat, the women will respond with an answer (usually a witty answer). It goes back and forth until someone can’t think of a question or answer, I suppose. Sometimes these can go on for an excruciating amount of time, like a week. And I thought Wagner’s 15-hour Ring Cycle was long!
Depending on the style and ethnic group, common instruments include a variety of percussion instruments (like the damphu, a type of large tambourine), wind instruments (like a variety of flutes), and vocal music. Many Nepali musicians borrow the same instruments found in Indian and Tibetan music as well.
Today, they also borrow many of the modern Western musical styles, like rock and hip-hop (in fact, they call their version Nephop). I sampled a few bands and groups I found on Spotify. One I listened to is a metal band called X Mantra. As far as metal bands go, they’re pretty tame. They really maintain a melody line in both instrumentals and vocal. And they vocal screaming is kept at a minimal. There was even one song that reminded me of when Guns N Roses sound when they get sentimental or something.
The next one I listened to was Nepathya. It was a little more on the traditional side, a little slower. He used modern instruments, and even modern instrumentation (like the drum beat and a soft rock effect on the music), but it gave me the impression that perhaps some of the songs were inspired by some more traditional music.
Mukti is a pop singer who sings in English and Nepali even though the vast majority of the song titles are in Nepali (I’m assuming). Her music tends to be a little slower overall, and it often uses traditional instruments.
However, I found an album under Mukti & Revival called Sandhai Bhari that is a blues album. I love the blues, so I was immediately drawn to this album. For the most part, it tends to have more of a Chicago Blues or Roadhouse Blues feel to it. I very much enjoyed this one.
The music of Diwas Gurung seems to span across different categories for me, so it’s making it hard to place. It’s like a cross between late-80s pop and mid-90s rock with elements of electronica and trance. But I think he spans several genres. Other videos I watched of him shows his stretch of musical ability.
Jindabaad was the closest thing to alternative rock that I found. (I didn’t get to do an extensive search this time.) They sing in English, and when I listened to the album Plastic Heart, I couldn’t help but take notice of the musicianship they have in their music. And they tend to build up their songs to a hard rock chorus. I just wish their album was longer than six songs. I probably would’ve bought it if it were longer. I like their style, though.
I found a few rappers on YouTube. The first one I found was Diwa$ & Dipendra. The song I listened to was more of an R&B/hip-hop song. I liked his style, although his flow reminds me of someone I’ve heard… I’m not even sure who. It’s kind of reminiscent of a Japanese-style or Mexican-style rap. I also came across Laure and listened to a few of his songs; he tends to use strings, and has a nice cadence to his rap. I just wish I knew what he was talking about.
Up next: the food