Nepali Musical Instruments

Music is inevitable in Nepali culture. The music starts from birth of a baby to the death of a man. Each cultural custom has

its association with music, song, dance and musical instruments. Musical instruments have different variety and types according to the places, communities, festivals and religions.

The music is played from Mountain to Hill and Hill to Madesh.  There are hundreds of instruments developed in Nepal. A research found that about 200 original instruments developed in Nepal. 108 types are still in play across the nation. 


Panchai Baja is one the famous musical instruments in Nepal. Most of the instruments developed in Nepal are still being used by Newar Community.

A brief introduction of some famous musical instruments



Madal is one of the famous folk musical instruments associated with our culture and lifestyle. It is believed that it was first introduced by the Magar community, it is equally famous and used by almost all of the Nepalese society.
This instrument is made especially with skin stretched over both of the ends of a wooden hollow tube and tightened with leather strings. Madal is drum played by hand beating on both sides.
The madal has a strand that goes around the waist of the person playing it to hold it horizontally.  Playing technique involves rhythmic struck one either ends (heads) with palm. The heads vibrate to produce sound when struck. It is mostly used in Nepali folk song. No one can still stand when people start, beating madals singing Nepali folk song (Nepali lok geet).


Sarangee is a traditional folk musical instrument especially played by Gandharva. It is a popular string-instrument made of a piece of wood, the bottom of which is made a hollow and four pieces of strings are fastened tightly with four wooden nails fixed on the top of it. It is played by rubbing on a group of strings especially left and right repeatedly with a small stick, which is fastened with some strings. Sarangee resembles the violin in western culture. Sarangi in Nepal is played from so many years. It has its own famous rhythms and tones. Sarangi in Nepal has been used as a instrument used to convey the message and news across tSarangihe country. The Gandharvas used to travel across the nation and go home to home sing the song of current affairs and earn some money. That was kind of messenger tradition.

Basuri and Murali

These are made from pieces of bamboo by making generally 6 holes on it. The six holes represent the musical notes.  Both of these instruments are similar in nature and played by blowing air through mouth. A little difference between these two is that Murali is played likeMurali flute/trumpet holding by lips and slops downwards whereas the Basuri is kept horizontally (exactly how lord Krishna played in Mathura and Brindavan) . Both of these instruments produce almost same types of sound. These are also famous all over the country. In eastern culture flute represents lord Krishna. The names Murali and Basuri are synonyms and used alternately in some languages.

Panchai baja

Panche baja is called so because it is the group of five musical instruments played together. The five musical instruments in panche baja are.
Jhyamta/Jhurma (Cymbal): It is one of the Panchhai Baja. It is a couple of flat round dish-like musical instrument made of brass or bronze, played by beating on each other.
Narsingha (A Trumpet): It is one of Panchaibaja Bajas made of two pieces curved copper tube that is played by blowing air through its mouthpiece.Panche Baja Set
Nagara/Damaha (A Drum): It is also one of the panchhai Baja. It is made of leather stretched over an end of a hollow copper bowl played by hitting with hands or sticks.
Sanai (A kind of clarinet): It is one of the Panchhai Baja. It is made of a metal shaped like a pipe slightly bent forward has couple of holes, reed on the top that you blow into.
Tyamko: It is also one of the Panchai Baja. It is similar to Damaha in shape but very small in size, played with two pieces of sticks called Gajo.

Khainjadi (A tambourine)

It is a kind of small drum made of skin stretched over an edge of a rounded hollow wood. It isKhaijadi played especially on the occasion of singing a kind of song called Roila and Balam.

Pungi (Bin)

It is made of a harder cover of coconut by fixing some pieces of bamboo on it. It is specially played by snake charmers to make snakes dance especially in Terai regions.


It is a shell of sea creature. It is played by blowing air on the occasion of worship and funeral procession. Most of Hindu ritual starts with the sound of Shankha. Sankha is not the regular musical instrument to play. It is only used in ritual events.Sankha


It is one of the popular musical instruments in mountain region. It is made of a piece of Tungnarhododentron wood by fastening strings as in Sarangi.


A popular instrument in Kirant community which is made of two pieces of string fastened on a piece of bamboo.

Ek Tare

It is a single-string instrument. Especially, it is played by Santas (ascetics) and Yogis. It is a believed toEktare be the early type of the musical instrument Sitar.


It is played especially by Dhimal Community made of outer hard cover of the coconut by stretching leather and fastening a string with a rod.

Dhol or Dholak

It is a kind of large drum like a Madal made of a hollow wood by stretching Dholakleather over both of the edges and played with hands. This is mainly played in Madhesh. This is also a kind of Mridangan. Dholak is played throughout Nepal especially in Holi, and to celebrate birth of child and to welcome harvesting.


It is a type of drum made of hollow wood by stretching leather both of its edges and played with a curved stick called Gajo. It is specially used by faith healers (Dhami/Jhakri) on the occasion of worshiping or treating people. This is a traditional medical treatments prevailing in Nepal.


It is popular in Kirant community made of a kind of bamboo. A piece of bamboo is curved and a small thread isMurchunga fastened on it.


A kind of musical instrument made of piece of iron. It is played by plucking its metal wire reed with fore finger being gripped between the teeth. It is also popular to Kirant, produces sound like Binayo.


It looks like a Sarangi, which is popular in Bajhang area.


It is popular in western Terai region, which is made of by stretching leather over an edge of a circled wood or
Dafali metal.


It is made of horn of ox and popular in Kirant community especially in Solukhumbu district.


A popular musical instrument in Mithila region is made of wood joining six strings on it.


It is a popular musical instrument especially in Tamang community. It is made of hollow wood stretched by leather over one edge looks like a small drum.Damfu

Irlung pipari

It is made of horns of Krishnasaar (black antelope) and used to produce sound blowing into. It is especially used by Jogis blow around the houses of people believing that there will be no harm from evils.

Madal and Sarangi

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Weall Nepali,
Oct 19, 2011, 9:24 AM