No account of Nepalese music can fail to acknowledge the debt it owes to the diversity of some 32 ethnic groups and the three primary religions that underlie Nepali thought and ways of life— Hinduism, Buddhism and Animism.  Music and dance are tooted in these religions conceptually, metaphysically and in theoretical development.

Hindus relate the creation of the very first sound, Nad, to Brahma, the creator of the Universe. Swaras (tones) and shrutis (microtones), manifestations of Nad, are described synesthetically as being “pure” or “true” and musicians believe their proper execution brings oneness with Brahma. Hindu deities are associated with specific musical instruments: the sitar (plucked lute) with Saraswati, the bansuri (transverse flute) with Krishna and the ektara (one-string plucked lute) with Naradmuni. The Vedic chantings called Raagas are characterised by three tonal divisions called udatta, annudatta and swarita, collectively known as the samaganas, were the basis upon which all swaras (tones), shrutis (microtones) and, later, raagas were developed. The genre of music that incorporates raagas is called shashtriya sangeet, a term virtually unknown in the West. The Buddhist tradition of Baki Wanegu (blowing of horns) around the monasteries is believed to bring salvation to the souls of the deceased.

Western music saw its initial influence in the military bands of the Nepali Army, during the second half of the 19th century. The Rana dynasty imported certain Western ideas that had profound influence on music while they continued the policy of isolation. Imported pianos that were manually carried 200 kilometers over the hills and jungles to adorn the many Greco-Roman palaces of Rana aristocracy.

Nepal’s wide-ranging ethnic diversity makes it impossible to describe folk music as a homogeneous entity. The diverse folk music genre include Newa, Sherpa, Tamang Selo, Dohari, Chutke, Jhyaure, Kauda, Sorathi, Maithili and Tharu. Chutke and Jhyaure are associated with the Gaines who functioned as “living newspapers” in the remote villages before the digital onslaught and performed with their indigenous string instruments, Sarangi. Other instruments used in modern music include the murchunga (Jaw’s harp), damphu (frame drum), bansuri (flute), tungna (plucked lutes), chyabrung, dholak and two-headed drums, madal.

Modern music refers to a genre of secular vocal music developed in the 20th Century. Typically, vocal melodies are accompanied on the Western harmonium, introduced by Christian missionaries. The harmonium imitates the vocal melody but the sustained notes are harmonised by either a major or a minor triad. The rhythmic accompaniment is provided by tabla (drum). The taalas, mnemonic rhythmic cycles, are of equal measure and, generally, in duple or triple meter. Although the harmonium and tabla function as the primary instruments, traditional instruments such as sitar, bansurimadal (drum), dholak (drum) and Western instruments such as the violin, piano-accordion, guitar, mandolin, bass guitar and saxophone have found their way into modern music. Today, the horizons of modern music has stretched even further to include “rock”, “rap” of Afro-European origins. Likewise, Nepalese composers have resorted plagiarizing Indian “Bollywood” music, feeling that native instruments are incapable of meeting the demands of polyphonic orchestral composition.

There is no doubt Nepal is endowed with a vibrant musical heritage and an enriching musical evolution. Music in Nepal evolves even today driven by creativity in composition and innovation in instrumentation. From temple bells to wood-block Khukuri holders, to the cacophonous brass & drum wedding processions and bone trumpets mourning the dead to the dream-like sitar, plaintive Sarangee and meandering basuree, Nepal has a wealth of traditional and contemporary music that is a part of people’s everyday lives. 


Each internship is individually customized, designed and organized with consultation with the Intern, taking into consideration of local circumstances and personal circumstances such as objectives and preferences on the following arrangements. Ethnomusicology may be focused in any of the wide-ranging areas below,

Nepali Culture and Religion, History and Ethnicity of Nepali Music and Musical Instruments, Music Composition, Music Production, Recording & Mixing, Sound Design, Nepali Vocals, Nepali Musical Instruments: Flute, Sitar, Tabala, Madal, Dhimay & Khin, Harmonium. 


  1. Fall: September 2nd to November 30th – 90 days
  2. Spring: January 17th to April 16th – 90 days
  3. Summer: May 22nd to August 20th – 90 days


Kathmandu is the most appropriate location but other cities in Nepal may be selected based upon recommendations and consultations with the Intern. 

Curriculum and Activities

Choices will be available in terms of the form of internship sought by the Interns such as focus area and classroom form or practical experience. Based on consultations with the intern, host institution and locations shall be confirmed. 

Institutional Hosting

Depending upon sector preferences, internship host may be selected that best fulfills the objectives of and interest of the Intern. Wide range of institutions and agencies such NGOs, institutes and universities, Nepal Government agencies and private studios may be considered as host of the internship. Some examples of institutional partners are suggested as follows

Kathmandu University, Tribhuwan University, Nepal Music Center, Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory, Nepal Music Education Society, Project Sarangi, Asian Himalayan Music School, Kirateshwor Sangeetashram, Night Band, Nepathya, Kutumbha.Mentorship

An ethnomusicology or Nepali music expert and professional in international will be assigned to the intern as a mentor to advise and guide the internship in matters related to Nepal as well as the academic and professional substance of the internship. 

Orientation Program – 7 days

  1. Homestay – 1 week
  2. Culture: “do-not” precautions / hygiene behavior / festivals / ethnic mapping / ethnic mapping
  3. Language: basic conversational Nepali / gender gears / status protocols
  4. Living logistics: getting around / shopping / electricity / internet / phone – mobile
  5. Talk Series: Nepali Culture, Nepali Music, Nepali Musical Instruments
  6. Consultations with internship mentor


1 Orientation to Nepal and Internship / Introduction to Mentor
  Local Homestay
2 Host Institution A – Kathmandu, mentor consultation
  Move to apartment accommodation
3 Host Institution A – Kathmandu, mentor consultation
4 Host Institution A – Kathmandu, mentor consultation
5 Host Institution A – Kathmandu, mentor consultation
6 Travel Excursion
7 Travel Excursion
8 Host Institution B – Kathmandu, mentor consultation
9 Host Institution B – Kathmandu, mentor consultation
10 Host Institution B – Kathmandu, mentor consultation
11 Host Institution B – Kathmandu, mentor consultation
12 Internship Report, mentor consultation
13 Personal Week



  1. Urban Housing:

Shared Catered Apartments – includes weekly cleaning and maintenance

Facilities – bathroom, kitchen with stove and refrigerator, washing machine, basic furniture and bed mattress, fan or heating appliances,

Utilities – electricity and water not included

  1. Rural Housing – includes weekly cleaning and maintenance, cooking and laundry

Facilities – bathroom, kitchen with stove, basic furniture and bed mattress, fan or heating appliances,

Utilities – electricity and water included


A getaway trip which includes visit to another part of the country with some sort of culture exposures and outdoor adventures. Exact dates and destination to be planned upon consultations.

Internship Cost: Full Package – US$ 7700

The cost covers airfare from the nearest international airport, airport pick-up and drop-off, orientation session, accommodation, all inclusive two weeks excursion, mentoring and academic consultations. Cost quote to be firmed up individually for each internship customized to intern’s requirements.

Internship Cost: Without Airfare – US$ 6200

Internship Cost: Without Airfare and Excursion – US$ 4400