Tag Archives: music

Men play Sahanai

Panche baaja पञ्चे बाजा

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Two men blowing Narsinghas

Men blow Narsinghas in Dhampus village, Nepal. According to this page (http://bit.ly/2ak5iWj), the name Narsingha means “buffalo horn,” but the instrument is much larger than the horn of a buffalo. The same page states: The Narsingha is a long curved natural horn with a conical bore, which varies widely in size, shape and usage in ensembles throughout Nepal.

A wedding ceremony? An auspicious occasion? Someone very important, a thulo manchhe, coming in the village? Play the panche baja (the five -musical- instruments). That’s still the case in many Nepali villages. These photos are from Dhampus village, north of Pokhara that offers beautiful views of the Annapurna range. When I was there last year around this time, the mountains were hidden in the clouds. Mesmerizing dhoon of panche baja played to welcome some thulo manchhes I was traveling with compensated the lack of great mountain views. I again saw panche baja played in a village in Lamjung earlier this year when to welcome a thulo manchhe.

Men play damaha drums

Men play Damaha drums

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MLTR ‘Learn to Rock’ in Kathmandu


{more tweets inside]

mltr in kathmandu

mltr perform in kathmandu

Nepali band Kutumba, popular for their instrumental music, warm up the audience before the visiting Danish band MLTR show to the Himalayan audience how they have learned to rock in all these years. This is the second international gig (by western musicians) since last February when Canadian Bryan Adams kicked off his show with Bob Seger’s Katmandu.

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Here are more photos from the concert: (all by Suraj Kunwar) Continue reading

Crossed the Dhorpatan River. Danced in Nishel Dhor

I woke up at 8 in the morning. Unusual in normal times. Unusual when I am traveling. When I am not traveling and staying home I wake up very late. Like around 9:30. When I am traveling I generally wake up very early, like 5:30 or 6 because of the pressure involved. It’s better to walk early in the morning before sun comes up to suck up your energy.

First day’s walk had been longer than it should have actually been. That had made me more tired.

So I woke up at 8 am even though the alarm bell on my cell phone had dutifully alerted me at 6:30 am. After having a cup of tea and a Tibetan bread I was ready to explore the valley. It was my plan to explore the Dhorpatan valley in the morning before resuming the walk for a few hours to reach a place called Nishel Dhor (or Nishi Dhor). As per the suggestion of the sahuji of the hutel, I took the shortcut to reach the other side of the valley. That meant avoiding the proper trail which has a bridge to cross the river and saving myself from walking about an hour just to reach the other side where offices of the hunting reserve and a Tibetan refugee settlement are located. Both are close to the airstrip under maintenance. Continue reading

Khojuwa: kathmandu searching dog


As seen on the wall of a restaurant- Picasso- in Patan. The full name goes like this: Picasso- Artist de la Cusine.

Albatross the band will start playing live music momentarily. They have set up their instruments outside. U’ll have to buy a prepaid Rs. 500 coupon at the entrance gate to enter a spacious dining room to eat food of your choice. Well, there is not much to choose from, says my restaurant critic friend Deepak Adhikari looking at the menu that, according to an waiter, has been trimmed for the day.”This is a new menu for me too,” says the waiter.”Today is the first day of our new Friday event.”

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Bryan Adams in Kathmandu: What Does That Mean to Nepal

Bryan Adams in Kathmandu, Nepal

Brinda Singh, who went on stage from the crowd, clings to Bryan Adams after singing “when you are gone” with the star

By Dinesh Wagle
Pic by Narendra Shrestha

[This article first appeared on Sunday’s (feb 20) Kathmandu Post. Bryan Adams performed in Kathmandu’s Dasharath Stadium on Saturday.]

Were things better here, Bryan Adams’ arrival wouldn’t be such a big deal.

Over the past two decades or so Nepali society has opened up to the outside world—especially Western culture and values—like never before. More people are going abroad. English language schools have proliferated. The reach of radio and TV has widened. Credit for this change should be given to the open economic policy adopted by the first government of Girija Prasad Koirala after the restoration of democracy in 1990.

But the arrival of Bryan Adams became a big deal because we are in a far from ideal situation.

The signs of progress that we saw in the middle of the 90s quickly disappeared into the smoke coming from the violent Maoist-police clashes. The economy stopped growing as politics failed to deliver the basic expectations of the people and the business community. Bloody conflict ended without concrete relief.

bryan adams in nepal Kathmandu Post 20 feb 2011

20.02.11 TKP. Click to enlarge

As a result of these and other issues, it seems society has hit rock bottom. People no longer hesitate to put aside morality for the smallest of things. Opportunities are so rare that the slimmest chance to earn money creates intense rivalry and conflict. We’ve all seen dogs on the street fight over a small piece of bone, haven’t we?

This past week I got to see the preparations made by the organisers of the Bryan Adams concert in Kathmandu up close. They wouldn’t tell me the exact figure of the deal that had several groups, including an Indian team that was responsible for setting up a stage and managing the sound system at the venue. But the red tape that they had to go through and the hassles they faced to make that event happen were clear to see. Every concerned authority, from police officers to the sports officials who rented Dasharath stadium for the gig, wanted their share of the profits. And there were countless demands for free passes. Those in powerful positions, including senior police officers, wanted the most expensive tickets free for them and their families. Others only demanded free access to the cheapest seats. “There are so many people who are envious that we are bringing Bryan Adams,” a person associated with one of the organising groups told me last week. “Everyone wants to pull our leg. There are obstacles at every step.”

It’s not surprising that earning money is one of the most difficult feats in a society that is one of the world’s poorest. But everything has a limit. We seem to have crossed this line.

The chief and a member of the sports council reportedly each asked for separate kickbacks. The chief denied asking for a bribe, while the member in question said he wanted money for ‘sports’. Organisers denied bribing officials, but it was hard to believe that they didn’t. Agitating employees, who were waging a separate war of sorts with the management, locked the stadium gates. They unlocked the gates only after securing volunteering opportunities during the concert. Simant Gurung, one of the organisers, hinted to me that the organisers unofficially promised to voluntarily donate some money to the agitating employees’ group. By the time of the settlement, some damage had already been done. Vandals had burned the closed-circuit television cables put in place at the stadium complex.

And there were friendly expectations. Friends of organisers wanted photo opportunities with the singer. Some wanted to see Bryan at their restaurants in Thamel and Durbar Marg. “That bhai at Tamas (restaurant) asked if I could take Bryan to his restaurant and make the singer sing just one song,” Simant said last week. “Another bhai from Lakhe had the same request. I would love to bring the singer to my own restaurant (Simol, Durbar Marg) and make him sing a few numbers if that was possible!”

The exposure to Western ideas and values that I mentioned at the beginning of this article, is mostly limited to television screens. A few hundred thousand Nepalis may have directly experienced Western societies by visiting and living in them. But celebrated personalities from the West don’t come to us that often.

The reason, again, is our poverty. We can’t afford to buy the expensive tickets for their programmes. We don’t have the money for their authentic CDs and DVDs. We can’t spend money on the merchandise that they hope to sell during their tours. This is the reason many Western celebrities who come to India (which is becoming a lucrative market) don’t step foot in Nepal. We are not important enough for them to come because we are not rich enough. Of course, there are those Nepalis who are rich enough to attend every such concert and buy every merchandising item on sale. There are many others who know Western songs by heart and idolise Western celebrities. But those numbers are not high enough to gain the attention of mainstream Western celebrities. That is why people like Nilesh Joshi, a guitarist with Nepali rock band Cobweb, feel bad every time Western celebrities tour India but skip Nepal.

Here enters Bryan, into this gloomy scenario.

With his arrival, many of us may feel that our existence has been recognised. Many of us may feel that we have finally been accepted into that advanced world we aspire to be a part of. Bryan may have instilled some amount of self confidence in us. But all this, I must clarify, may only be felt by those who know about Bryan and are familiar with his music. For those who don’t know the singer, like the spokesperson of Kathmandu valley police who thought Shree Bryan Adams was a “British national” and a “band but not a person” all these things may not matter much.

[The article in print version introduced Nilesh Joshi as singer of the band Cobweb. He is not. He plays bass guitar for the band.]

Politics of Music Video in Nepali Television

After the South Asian Film Festival, there was the festival of South Asian Music Videos (from Nepal, India and Pakistan) in Kathmandu today. I didn’t attend the event but I am very much aware of the politics of favoritism in playing Music Video in Nepali TV stations.

When I woke up in the morning, well that was actually afternoon, I realized that I was tired courtesy of the marathon watching of non fiction films from around South Asia in the past four days. Waking up at around 8 AM, one day it was at 7 AM (can you believe?), and driving up to Kumari Cinema in crowded public vehicles, talking to so many people just for the shake of nothing but formality, watching films (as well as noting down a few dialogues and verbatim etc.), going back to office and writing the news stories under the pressure to meet the deadline. After that, you are home (sometime at around 10 PM), eat the food that has been kindly made ready and put into a hot case, try to briefly catch up to the late night headlines on news channels, log on to blogs and emails because, one, you are addicted to them and, two, you can’t just go to sleep however you try to without doing that. Continue reading

Nepali Music: Vibrant and Growing

nepali folk music video shooting

From the shooting spot of a music video for a folk song Pic by Suraj Kunwar

One sector that flourished in Nepal even when the country was going through the political turmoil in the last decade was without doubt the Music. No matter what, we sang and listened to one new song after another that young and creative musicians offered us. Unlike Nepali film industry that is struggling to get quality audience, the reach of songs in Nepali society is vast: people from the street to the palace enjoy Nepali songs with equal enthusiasm. [Contrary to this, majority of Nepali film audience comes from lower middle class.] Rap, rock, pop, folk, hip hop, remix you name it and you can find songs in Nepali market composed by the young and innovative Nepali musicians. The folk songs have invaded urban area, previously dominated by the Hindi songs, and the new genres of music have kept Nepali youths hooked up. It wouldn’t be hype to say that music has transformed the urban youth culture. Very few iPods sell in Kathmandu markets but make no mistake people are listening to all kinds of songs. English songs are also popular among youths in urban Nepali society and yes Hindi songs (especially from Bollywood films) are there but they are facing tough competition from the quality songs and music videos offered by the Nepali music industry.

It’s definitely a small industry but it’s growing rapidly and an unknown boy or a girl can become a celebrity overnight. Nepali public has enjoyed their arrival one after another. Just yesterday there was an impressive award ceremony (Hits Music Award 2063) was organized in Kathmandu that recognized the contributions made by some of the musical stars in the past year.

As the private television stations came into existence in the later half of the last 10 years, the phenomena of music videos came with a bang. MTV hasn’t come in Nepal (and can’t be expected any time soon) but for Nepalese audience the music was no more a thing to be listened, it was something to be seen. For the growing music industry, music videos also turned out to be a great marketing tool to sell the audio cassettes and CDs. For singers, music videos were a magic means of being a celebrity: if you are appearing in the video, you are on your way to become a star.

As a reporter responsible for overseeing the Arts and Style section of Kantipur daily it is part of life for me to meet singers, actors and other celebrities of Nepali society. Two weeks ago I decided to invite three of the most happening singers in current Nepali musical scenario- Jabeek, Rajeev Lohani and Babu Bogati -to talk about their new life and stardom. One song was enough for Jabeek to be a star where as the Baleko Aago from his first album tune made Rajeev a popular singer. Babu’s first album that came to market five years ago was a flop but he learned some hard lessons and hit the TV screens last year with the music video of the song titled Sannani…lauri le thyakka thyakka and became popular even among children.

Here is the story that appeared on the front page of Kosilee, the weekly supplement of Kantipur, today. Here is the summary of the story in English.