TITLE: Folk Musical Instruments of Nepal
AIRDATE: Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Greetings, everyone. In today's A Journey through Aesthetic Realms, we’ll visit the Nepali Folk Musical Instrument Museum in Tripureshwor, Kathmandu, where there are some of the most ancient and popular instruments that have become part of the various occasions and rituals of the Nepalese society. With a view of collecting, preserving and glorifying the Nepali folk musical instruments, the Nepali Folk Musical Instrument Museum (NFMIM) was founded in 1995. Let us meet the museum’s founding president, Mr. Ram Prasad Kandel, and Dr. Norma Blackstock, Chief of International Relation Department of NFMIM. Ram Prasad Kandel (m): In Nepal there isn’t any school to teach about the gods and goddesses. I searched for several years and I found my holy master. His name is Swami Akhandananda Saraswoti, and he accepted me. He is ready to give me blessing and his knowledge, his wisdom. So I must offer to him some food and some nice clothes as a present. And he said, “I don’t need any these things but you do a small work for my nation.” That time in my mind, came, “Okay, I’ll establish a Nepali Folk Musical Instrument Museum in Kathmandu,” and he said, “Okay, let’s start it.” Everyday I do some collection and some do research about the musical instruments. I’m offering to my holy master. This museum is my worship to him. NFMIM Chief of International Relation Department, Dr. Norma Blackstock from the United Kingdom, speaks of how the museum was established during its initial period. Dr. Norma Blackstock (f): Ram has a great love of his culture and music from a very early age. As he grew up, he noticed that the culture was disappearing. And he was sad about this. So first of all, Ram just started the collection. He financed it all with profits from his thanka business. It’s all been from his own money and from other people’s donations. After couple of years, he registered the museum with the government in Nepal. And after 5 years, he decided that the collection was so important and unique that he ought to try to open the museum to public access. He was able to get a fairly small room in the central temple called Badra Kali. And then 2 years ago he acquired these premises and moved the collection here to this beautiful building. Mr. Kandel explains the significance of preserving the traditional folk musical instruments of Nepal. Ram Prasad Kandel (m): The last 60-70 years, the Nepalese musical culture is declining. And the Nepali musical heritage never returned, no documentation, so that we started to document this. We started the school of folk music and also we started to go to the research of the Nepali folk musical heritage and the folk singers, folk music players, musical instruments, how to make the musical instruments, the technology, everything. We didn’t use the musical instruments. We bring the old ones, broken ones. If there’s no broken one, we request to them to make a replica. Because in the village, there are very few instruments now left, so we don’t like to take a collection from them to hang in the museum. Dr. Norma Blackstock (f): The importance of this museum is that it doesn’t just hang things on the wall. We teach playing technique. And people come here every Saturday and gather together and play music together and sing songs. So many things the museum does; schools, parties come. It’s not just a static collection. More on Nepal’s traditional folk musical heritage when we return. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television. You’re watching A Journey through Aesthetic Realms. Welcome back to A Journey through Aesthetic Realms and our presentation on the folk musical instruments of Nepal. Nepalese musical instruments are a part of the world's artistic heritage. Some people believe that when they start playing or listening to a melody, they hear the sound of the universe called Om or Naad. According to Mr. Kandel, founder and president of the Nepali Folk Musical Instrument Museum, that sound is often heard during meditation. Ram Prasad Kandel (m): We had recorded the Samaveda melodies. Samaveda is more than 15,000 years old. The music is by God, you know, so that everybody, if they’re happy, they must play it, they must hear it, and if they’re sad, there’s pain, they must play. If we have some pain in the heart, we sing the song and we’re relieved. Music is a very good friend for human beings, animal beings, trees and for other elements. Ram Prasad Kandel (m): Music is important and the meditation. I hear the “Naad” and the cosmic sound what is in “Om” and so that sound is not played. The Anahad Naad. Nobody plays that music but it comes in my ear, every second if the outside is quiet. But now the people cannot go to meditation, they cannot hear that everyday, so they can find a musical instrument’s melodies. We can find all the heritage of the musical instruments in Nepal, so I request to the people, they must do for the Nepali musical preservation. HOST: Mr. Kandel and Dr. Blackstock have adopted a plant-based diet for many years, and they both practice meditation. They also share with us the importance of a plant-based diet. How long you’ve been vegetarian? Ram Prasad Kandel (m): I started my meditation nearly 15 years before and my holy master gave me a lecture and he accepted me and I left those things. The vegetarian food gives us very good energy and it makes us very quiet and calm, and the mind is every time very peaceful and no violence. In the Nepali folk instrument it’s not necessary, but it needs to play for God, you know. And so it requests the blessing to all. So if there are people who are vegetarian, they can play it well. Total body and mind, everything is peace. So we can pass our message, our music to others. Maybe most of the Nepali musicians, they are vegetarian. Dr. Norma Blackstock : I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 40 years. I think my 3 main reasons are: one because I don’t feel I have the right to cause the death of any of God’s creatures, and in order to eat meat, I’d have to be the cause of that death, even if it’s not with my own hands. The other reason is that in order to feed more people, if everyone is vegetarian, we could grow more food instead of having to feed the animals and then feed the people on the animals. And the third reason, the main reason, is that I know we can live perfectly healthily without meat and I am a biologist, I know that we can live perfectly healthily ? in fact, probably more healthily - by just eating vegetarian food, without any meat at all. I don’t eat eggs or meat or milk, and I’m quite well. NFMIM has researched into the names and origin of the folk musical instruments. They have identified 300 types of instruments and their association with more than 100 ethnic groups and communities so far. The collection of the museum can amount to more than 165 folk musical instruments from different parts of the country. Now, we will introduce some of these traditional folk musical instruments. Ram Prasad Kandel (m): This is the Murchunga and this is from the Kirat ethnic groups and east part of Nepal. This is made by iron. This is the Om, a Nepali character, and this is the Trihsula, the trident, and this is the Shiva Lingam. It is a very old Nepali folk instrument. Om means the Naad. Naad means the sound of the universe. And so when we go to meditation we can find this Naad and they don’t need to play any instrument. They come from the universe and in the meditation we can feel the Naad. And most of the time, they play in the holy ceremonies and for the meditation and now commonly they use the voice to play this instrument in the east Nepal. Now I’m playing for my holy master. Before we play any musical instrument we must pray to our ancestors and our holy master because this is now who cares for these instruments and they passed to us; and our duties is we pass to other generations. So this is a respect to them, to whom made the instrument and I’m getting permission and I need a blessing from him and please give me permission and I am playing that. This is Nepali culture. Nepal's local music traditions serve many vital needs and purposes. In many societies, music is performed according to the ritual calendar. It accompanies human life cycle events. It relates to harvest cycles and to the changing seasons. Music can be a medium of communication between the world of humans and the realm of the gods. Musical instruments are frequently considered sacred, inhabited by the gods, and treated with respect. Ram Prasad Kandel (m): This is the Narsingha. The Damai musician caste in Nepal, they play this Narsingha. It’s made of very thin copper plate. In East Nepal, they play this instrument before any marriage ceremony. The musicians gather at home. And they start to play one night before. And next morning the marriage ceremony really starts. And they play the whole time; we have more than 55 ? 56 melodies to the marriage ceremony. In other festivals also, like the gods’ and goddesses’ worship, all the dances and all, they play this Narsingha. We believe in the 5 elements ? the earth, the water, the fire, the air, and the sky. In the Panche-baja, the musical instruments represent the 5 elements. Karnal is the main instrument in the Panche-baja group. Before we start, first we play the Karnal. This is made out of copper. Copper is in the Nepali culture, copper is highly respected. So all these instruments made by copper are holy instruments. This is the Sahnai. And we use one reed in here. The musicians are playing hours and hours continuously, non-stop, because they take air from nose and blow. And they play different Nepali old Raaga; some melodies are 15,000 years old melodies. Still we used to play in Nepal. It is made by wood. Two parts of the wood. And after this is the bell. Some are silver, some are of other metal, some are copper. This instrument is named Jhurma. And this is made by the brass. We thank Mr. Ram Prasad Kandel and Dr. Norma Blackstock for introducing us to Nepal’s rich musical heritage and its great variety of instruments. We wish much blessing for all your endeavors in preserving and celebrating this precious tradition for generations to come. OUTRO (IN NEPALI): Thank you, friendly viewers, for accompanying us in today's show of the folk musical instruments of Nepal. Now please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television. Coming up is Vegetarianism: The Noble Way of Living, after Noteworthy News. May the melodies of Heaven guide your journey through life. Thank you, friendly viewers, for accompanying us in today's show of the folk musical instruments of Nepal. Now please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television. Coming up is Vegetarianism: The Noble Way of Living, after Noteworthy News. May the melodies of Heaven guide your journey through life.