Traditional Nepali Musical Instruments

Subject: Social Studies

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A musical instrument is an instrument created or adapted to make musical sounds. Traditional musical instruments are played during festivals, jatras, and marriages and according to the place, caste, religion and culture. This note has information about various kinds of traditional nepali musical instruments.
Traditional Nepali Musical Instruments

Musical Instrument produces melodious sound. They make the songs very pleasant to the ears. They are played when songs are sung during festivals, jatras, and marriages and according to the place, caste, religion and culture.

Traditional Nepali musical instruments can be divided into three general categories:

  1. Percussion: These are the instruments that are hit and usually have single note but are great for rhythm,
  2. Wind: These are the instruments that have a length of air that vibrates, so are blown, and
  3. String: These are the instruments that have vibrating strings of different lengths.

The descriptions about the Nepali musical instruments into these three groups are given below:


The Madal is a very popular instruments of Nepali Life. Magars were first community to use it, but now it has become common to all communities. It is made of a hollow wooden cylinder with its both open sides covered with skin. It is hung round the waist and played with both hand


The Basuri/Murali is a popular musical instrument all over Nepal. It is made up of thin hollow bamboo pipe. One end of it is cut obliquely and small piece of wood is pushed into it. A rectangular hole is made on the opposite side of the mouth. A little away several small holes are made. The other end remains open. The Murali is played by holdling its oblique end between lips but the Bansuri is played through by blowing.

Panchai Baja (Set of Five Instruments)

Sahanai: This musical instrument is made of metal. It is played by putting it between the lips and by blowing. The music it products is very sweet. It is the leading Panchai Baja.

Tyamko: The Tyamko is like a damaha / nagara but small in size. It is beaten by two drumsticks.

Nagara/Damaha: It is a large kettledrum made of copper and covered with skin. It is played by hitting with a strong stick.

Narsinga: The Narsinga is a musical instrument like a horn. It is made of copper. It half circle in shape. It is blown at one end. The longest available narsinga is at Kaskikot, Kaski. It is about nine feet long.

Jyali/Jyamta/Jhurma: It is made of a bronze metal. It has two pieces. It is played by hitting one piece with another.


The sarangi is originally the traditional musical instrument of the ganarvas and is very popular to them. It is especially made of the wood of khirro. It has four strings. It is played by rubbing a bow on the wires.

Other More Local and Special Instruments

  1. Shanka: The shanka is made of the outer shell of a large snail conch. It is used while conducting pooja and while carrying dead body to the ghat. It is played by blowing with the mouth.
  2. Khainjadi: This musical instrument is made of wood. It is covered with skin. It is held in one hand and played with the other hand while singing Roila and Balan. The Khainjadi is often accompanied with the Mujuras the metal disks that jingle.
  3. Pungi/Bin: The Pungi is the combination of coconut shell and three pieces of bamboo. It is played by blowing with mouth and used by the snake charmers. It is also called Bin.
  4. Hudko: The Hudko looks like the damaru. It is used in the Mid- west and far- west of Nepal.
  5. Ektare: A wooden frame is made and covered with skin. It has string. It is used by the jogis.
  6. Yalambar: It is a string instrument. It is made of bamboo. It has two wires. It is used by the Kirants.
  7. Dyangro: The Dhyangro is a circular frame of wood covered with animal skin on both sides with a rod downward to hold. It is used by the witch doctors.
  8. Dholak: The Dhol or Dholak is made of a hollow cylinder of wood. Its two open ends, which are equal in diameter, are covered with skin. It is played with both hands and produces deep low sound.
  9. Urni: It is made of skin and coconut bark with a bar for a string. It is played by rubbing the string by a finger. It is a popular musical instrument of the Dhimals. They play it in religious observations including the worship of their family deity.
  10. Tunga: This music instrumental is popular in Himalayan region. It is made from rhododendron wood and has four wires like the sarangi. It is about 2.5 feet long and there is an image of lions head carved on the top.
  11. Damphu: The frame is of wood and covered with skin. This percussion instrument is popular among the Tamangs.
  12. Irlung Pipari: It is played by blowing. It is popular among the Kusundas.
  13. Shringinad: It is made of deer horn. It is used by the jogis while roaming from house to house.
  14. Dakkari: This musical instrument is made by joining six strings to the wood. It is popular in Mithila.
  15. Masak: The masak is like the Saragni. It is popular in Bajhang district in the far west.
  16. Pung: This wind musical instrument is made of the horn of the ox. It is popular among the Kirants of Solu area. They play it in order to please their ancestors.
Things to remember
  • Traditional Nepali musical instruments are divided into three general categories. They are Percussion, wind and string.
  • Some of the old and very popular musical instruments are Madal, Bansuri/Murali, Panchai baja( set of sahanai, tyamko, Nagara, Narsinga, jyali/jhyamta) etc.
  • Some local and special musical instruments are shanka, damphu, kainjadi, pungi/bin, ektare, yalambar, dyangro urni, hudko, tunga , masak,dakkari etc.
  • It includes every relationship which established among the people.
  • There can be more than one community in a society. Community smaller than society.
  • It is a network of social relationships which cannot see or touched.
  • common interests and common objectives are not necessary for society.
Videos for Traditional Nepali Musical Instruments
Bansuri The musical instrument of Nepal
Folk Musical Instruments of Nepal
How is a Sarangi made?
KIRAT FOLK TUNES...fusion of various tunes
Murchunga playing
Murchunga riffing
Nepali folk instruments
Questions and Answers
Nowadays, Panche Bajas are being displaced slowly by western musical instruments. Now we should play a vital role in conserving them. The roles to be played by us the use of them are:
  • Several institutions, colleges, etc. should be established in various parts of the country that provide knowledge and training about these musical instruments.
  • Government should foster the concerned group for the use of such musical instruments.
  • Mass media should play an important role in awaring people about their use and need of preservation.
  • INGO, NGO and local bodies should be encouraged to carry on research and preserving them.
Tyamko This is the smallest musical instruments of Panche Baja and Naumati Baja. It is a radius of wood of about the span of thumb and the pinky finger wrapped by leather. It is played by hitting on it with a Gajo.
Damaha This is also one of the musical instruments of Panche Baja. It is made up of wrapping leather on radius of copper. We should make it dump for one or two days to be played well by hitting with a Gajo.
Jhyali/Jhyampta/Jhurma This is another musical instrument from among the Panche Baja. It consists of two pieces of bronze which is played by hitting one to another in different tunes.
Sahanai This is most popular musical instrument of Panche Baja. It is made up of the combination of metal and wood. It produces imploring sound while blowing by putting between the laps. The people of Dhading district called it Tipshane.
Narsinga This musical instrument also fails under the group of Panche Baja. Made of copper, it resembles the shape of half moon. This kind of musical instrument bears gradual expansion to the lower part. It is played by blowing it.
Recently a wedding ceremony is going to be organized in my locality. Here, there was a contradiction of opinions among the youngsters and matured ones regarding the use between Panche Baja and band Baja. As such I suggested the following ways:
  • Panche Baja looks old and may feel awkward to be carried but they should be given emphasis and priority because they are our national, cultural identities.
  • Panche Baja has lost its identities, so they have to be revitalized and reintroduced for the growing new generation.
  • Let the use of Panche Baja bring a shame of pride and glory at the wedding house, locality and on the way for managing to organize it.
  • No matter, if the bride grooms family can afford it, then both Panche Baja and the band Baja be managed as a fusion and interest of old and new generation.

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