Mason Brown (B.A., Religious Studies and Music, Naropa University, 2013; Ph.D., Ethnomusicology, University of Colorado Boulder, 2018) recently completed a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship in Nepal, where he did fieldwork for his dissertation on Tibetan and Himalayan music in Nepal, its intergenerational transmission, and its bearing on identity and alliance. He has written on Tibetan music pedagogy and Tibetan and Irish traditional music on YouTube. Mason is a performing and recording artist of Appalachian and Irish traditional musics, a teacher of guitar, mandolin, and banjo, and is currently visiting faculty at Kathmandu University’s Department of Music.
Samyog Regmi (B.Mus., Ethnomusicology, Kathmandu University, 2017) is an ethnomusicologist, arranger and musician. He performs with the folk band Mi Ku and has also done background scores for the reality television show Himalayan Roadies, the feature film Namaste Yang Chen as well as various other short films and documentaries. He currently works as a record producer and arranger at Bajra Creation records.
The thriving guitar scene in Kathmandu is not well known outside of the country, and particularly not in the West. It has also not been the topic of much recent scholarship. It has been assumed that for Nepalis the guitar, as a foreign instrument, represents freedom and modernity; but, is this true, and what else might it signify to Nepali guitarists themselves? This article gives an overview of the history of the guitar in Kathmandu by drawing on both published scholarship and interviews conducted by the authors with twelve prominent Nepalese guitarists and guitar educators to establish the current state and future outlook of the guitar in Nepal. Findings suggest that, in addition to freedom and modernity, the guitar is connected with individualism, and is becoming naturalized and less foreign than it used to be.
The authors would like to thank Noé Dinnerstein and Andrew Alter for asking them to submit this article, Sienna Craig for encouragement and advice on revisions, and the anonymous reviewers for their astute and helpful comments, which ultimately enabled the authors to improve the article greatly. The authors would also like to thank all of the interviewees for their generosity and openness in giving their time and insights to this project.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Brown, Mason and Regmi, Samyog. 2018. The State of the Guitar in Kathmandu. HIMALAYA 38(1).
Available at: https://digitalcommons.macalester.edu/himalaya/vol38/iss1/13