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International Music Resources by Country: Nepal

International Music Resources offers an array of online and physical resources both freely available and/or offered by the George F. DeVine Music Library. The information included in these guides may serve as a starting point for the study and research of

Panoramic photo of Nepal

Citation (1)

Map of Nepal

Map of Nepal

Citation (3)

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music-Nepal

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Cover Art

Popular Musicians

Shailesh Shrestha - film music composer/singer/songwriter

Himal Sagar - singer/songwriter

Navneet Aditya Waiba - folk singer

Listen to the Music of Nepal

Folk Songs of Nepal Album Art

Folk Songs and Soundscapes of Nepal Album Art

Namaste the Music of Nepal Album Art

Facts in Brief

Flag of Nepal


Capital: Kathmandu

Official Language:  Nepali

Current Population: 30,378,055

Area: 147,181

Climate:  The climate varies sharply with altitude, from arctic on the higher peaks of the Himalaya mountains (where the air temperature is permanently below freezing point) to humid subtropical in the central valley of Kathmandu, which is warm and sunny in summer. 

Main Religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam

Citation (2)

Nepali Music

Music in the Kathmandu

One of the most complex musical cultures in the Himalayan region is that of the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley, who speak a Tibeto-Burman language. Over a period of two millennia the Newars developed an elaborate civilization based on agriculture and on trade with India, Tibet, and China. Performance in Newar culture serves a variety of ritual and entertainment functions. A universal feature is the worship of the god of music and dance, Nāsaḥdyaḥ, by all Newar communities. Many performances serve to articulate ritual and urban space. Newar music and dance are performed almost exclusively by men. Women are excluded from the performance of all genres except rice-sowing songs and Buddhist devotional songs of the bhajan type. Indian influence on Newar music is manifest in the use of rāga and tāla names for melodic and rhythmic structures respectively. 

Traditional Music Outside the Kathmandu Valley

Hardly any of the music cultures of the 30 or so ethnic groups living outside the Kathmandu Valley have been studied. Religious rituals, oral narratives, and festivals have been investigated as if they were silent, ignoring music which plays an essential part in them. The mountainous topography has kept local cultures relatively isolated from each other. In addition to the music of mass media adopted by rural people, some musical genres, such as the jhyāure dance, are known all over Nepal. A song duel, dohorī gīt, in which individuals or groups compete in invention of new verses, is also popular.Most of the music in villages is made by ordinary people during their leisure time and while working it is conceptualized as being collective and reciprocal. Only singing and playing in a group for an audience (visible or invisible) is regarded as music: songs sung alone or in groups while working are not regarded as music but as an inseparable part of the work at hand. 


Indo-Nepalese society is organized according to a strict hierarchy of castes. The caste system is thought to have been introduced to Nepal by high-caste immigrants from north India who, fleeing from Muslim oppression, made their homes in the Himalayan foothills and soon became the dominant group. Damāī, meaning ‘kettledrum player’ are tailors and musicians. The kettledrums (damāhā) are usually played in pairs, with paired shawms (śahanāī), small kettledrum (ṭyāmko), cymbals (jhyālī), barrel drum (ḍholakī), and paired c- or s-shaped horns (narsiṅga). This ensemble, known as pañcai bājā, has a ritual function and is an essential accompaniment to any Indo-Nepalese procession, life-cycle rite, festival, or sacrifice. In addition to the music of the musician castes, other Indo-Nepalese castes enjoy recreational and devotional music-making. Playing the small barrel drum (mādal) is not caste restricted, and it is used across the country to accompany traditional songs and dances. 

Citation (4)



(1): "Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail" by "Aleksandr Zykov"

(2): Location, Climate, Language, Religion, Flag, Capital (Nepal), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 03 February 2022 from

(3): Country Map (Nepal), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 26 March 2019 from

(4): Widdess, R., Wegner, G., Tingey, C., & Moisala, P.  Nepal, Kingdom of. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 3 Feb. 2022, from