If it is forgotten, it is not just the music that we lose; we lose our culture, we lose our history.
Unity in Diversity. Nepal is a multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-linguistic, and multi-ethnic country. There are more than 100 different ethnic groups, having their unique music culture and traditions, for every rites and ritual of every part of life from birth to death. Music accompanies every occasion, sparking feelings and enhancing the aura. The authenticity and originality of the musical performances and the instruments themselves hold significance on its own.
Folk culture belongs to everyone, from people in the high Himalayas to the people living their livelihood in the plains of Terai. It is the identity of the rich culture that amplifies the uniqueness. Due to what is called modernization, the modern western culture seems to be overshadowing folk music, which has created an urgent need for the involvement of the younger generation to preserve the vulnerable heritage.
In an attempt to keep the cultural folk music and the heritage alive, the Music Museum of Nepal contributes its part in exhibiting the diversity of the musical history of Nepal.
In 1995, with a passion for music, Ram Prasad Kandel started his collection of traditional Nepali folk musical instruments. Since then, he has visited all 77 districts of Nepal for research, from where he purchased endangered folk instruments.
Then, in 1997, he named his collection The Nepali Folk Musical Instrument Museum (NFMIM), and that is how the museum was founded as a charity with the Nepal Government.
In 2002, the gradual growth of the collection gained an exclusive acknowledgment, after which it was decided to be open for the general public at the Bhadrakali Temple in Kathmandu.
Eventually, in 2007, the museum housing more than 260 types of instruments, was shifted to the premises at the Tripureshwor Mahadev Temple – the largest temple in Kathmandu. It was then that the museum was renamed as Music Museum of Nepal (MMN), which stays the same until now.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM
The founder of the museum, Kadel is not a musician himself but a genuine admirer of the musical traditions. His dedication to his passion has driven him to keep up with his collection and sustain the cultural heritage. The museum now showcases 655 distinct Nepali folk musical instruments among more than 1350 from all over the country. The impressive fact about this museum is that all the musical instruments are either bought or newly made by the local artisans. No instrument is taken from any place where artists still play them. Only those, which are not in use are brought and kept in the museum. That way, the local artists can continue playing live music, keeping up the vibrance of the melodies.
Folk music is not much in practice these days, which makes it a priority to save them. If it is forgotten, it is not just the music that we lose; we lose our culture, we lose our history. The folk musical instruments are simple, made from whatever is found from the surrounding. Inspired by the sound of nature: the waterfalls, blowing of the wind, mooning of cattle, chirping of birds, even the shape of the instruments is influenced by the nature. The Hiti Manga, for instance, is a fine replica of the water spouts in Kathmandu, producing music similar to the sound of water filled in a pot from the spout.
OBJECTIVES AND ACTIVITIES
Identifying, collecting folk musical instruments is one of the prime objectives of the museum. Moreover, researches on folk songs, melodies, dances, along with the artists is also a priority. From raising awareness to educating students about these heritages to digitizing the museum's audio/visual archive, the museum does the best it can do in this sector.
The museum conducts classes about the playing technique, singing, musical notations, etc. Regular concerts are featuring these rare instruments are broadcasted lively each Saturday on FM Radio. The forming of international links is also focused while promoting music festivals and competitions have always been a major activity of the museum.
Besides all the prominence of the aim of the museum, the museum is less known, and not many visitors are attracted except researchers on ethnomusicology. Nevertheless, the museum sets a goal to add musical instruments from other parts of South Asia to its collection.
The museum is a beautiful insight into the musical cultural heritage of Nepal and even a greater attraction to music lovers. The authenticity is worth visiting.
Music for Life, Music for Survival.