Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Documentation: The first step

The music of Nepal’s numerous indigenous communities has the potential to attract large audiences both within and outside the country. A number of parallels exist between the different styles of Nepal’s indigenous music and other world music.  This could possibly open up an infinitely wider field for experimentation. Ethnomusicology is still a subject that is virtually unknown and unexplored in Nepal. For a developing country still coming to grips with the onslaught of information and globalisation, modernisation means “westernisation” in many respects. This bears a negative connotation when traditions are abandoned without thought in favor of popular culture. As is true in many other countries, the current trend in much of music in Nepal is to embrace popular western sounds.
While popular music, local and/or traditional music have their own niche, the overwhelming commercialisation and promotion of the former can overshadow the latter genre. This would not pose a problem if there was a similar popularisation of local music to counteract this trend. In the absence of such a trend, indigenous music seems to only cater to specific sets of audiences. Since the problems with the existing scenario with local music in Nepal are many, there needs to be method-based plan and action for the resolution if the music of Nepal’s many communities is to evolve and flourish.
Creating space for the local music of Nepal in term of popularity, access, documentation, preservation and propagation requires that systematic mechanisms be put in place. There needs to be a special focus on increasing the public’s knowledge of and access to the local musician. This could be a multi-faceted program targeted at popularising this genre of music through the media by rigorous promotion, performances and tours. Encouraging the usage of such music and musicians on television and films, as background scores or fillers, would also be helpful. It is also important to focus on business skills in the local music sector since there is a serious lack of expert managers, copyright experts, producers and agents in this field. These skills are imperative for artists to make wise decisions about their music and livelihood. To this end, existing networks need to be strengthened; improvements are needed in infrastructure, including performance venues, recording facilities and touring circuits. In addition, music education in schools and other institutions must be encouraged.
With these issues requiring attention, an important step toward achieving these goals is an understanding of music and the artists who create it. The lack of such documentation efforts is one of the major shortcomings in the present scenario in Nepal.

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