Genres of Nepali language music

Nepali music uses two types of musical instruments - 1. Classical Nepali instruments like Madal, Bansuri, Sarangi,  Harmonium, Tabala etc 2. Western musical instruments like Guitar, Bass, Drum set, Keyboard etc. With these instrument combinations, various lyrical style, local culture and international influence many distinct genres have been evolved in Nepali language music industry.


Traditional genres / Folk

Lok geet / Folk songs: Lok geet is the music originated from the rural areas of Nepal. In early recording years both lyrics & tune of Lok geet used to be directly collected from rural areas. Modern lok geet are written and arranged by professional lyricist and musicians who try to give strong rural flavor in their work. Many movie play-back and individually recorded lok geets break into the mainstream music arena every year. Some of the iconic lok geet singers are Dharmaraj Thapa, Shambhu Rai, Jhalakman Gandarbh,  etc.

Lok Dohori / Folk duet: its a type of Nepali Folk song usually sung by two teams of men and women. It is in the form of question and answer where a team sings a question and the opponent replies through an equally lyrical impromptu couplet and vice versa. It also originated in the rural areas of Nepal and now popular in both rural and urban settlements.  Typical dohori songs are usually longer than regular songs. Dohori song can be 10 minutes to 1 hour long. Some of the iconic dohori singers are Pashupati Sharma, Ramji Khand, Badri Pangeni, Sindhu Malla, Bishnu Majhi, Sunita Dulal etc.

Deuda song: its a type of folk song popular in far western and karnali provinces of Nepal. Deuda culture has a unique singing and dancing style which stand out among other folk songs. Deuda genre has 4 four mains sub sections: thadi Bhakha, Rateri, Hudkeuli and Dhamari. Some of the iconic deuda singers are  Nanda Krishna Joshi, Devi gharti etc.

Teej Songs : are related to the Hindu festival of teej but these songs are not devotional songs. Though most of teej songs categorized as folk or folk duet, these songs clearly stand out among other folk or duet in its lyrical, musical, performance style. Teej songs are popular among women and widely played during the Hindu Teej festival which usually falls in the month of August. Many singers launch their Teej songs targeting this festival every year. Lyrics of teej songs generally cover the issues of marriage, love, husband-wife, relatives etc.

Bhajan / devotional songs / hymn : Nepali bhajans are mostly about Hindu god, goddess, spirituality etc. Bhajan music are mostly soft and traditional instruments like harmonium, tabala, bansuri (bamboo flute), madal etc are used. They are played in certain festival or rituals or in devotional programs. They are not played as a mainstream music.

Modern songs and Hindustani instruments  

Sugam Sangeet / Aadhunik Geet / Modern songs: 

Its one of the major genre in Nepali music industry. Tunes used in Sugam sangeet are soft and traditional instruments like Harmonium, Tanpura, Bansuri, Sarangi, Madal, Tabla etc are generally used. Lyrics of Sugam Sangeet are mostly about love, romance, relationship, life, break-ups, pain etc. This genre can be considered mainstream as it is popular among all ages.

Earliest reordered singers of this genres were Melwa Devi Gurung, Hariprasad Rimal, Panna Kaji, Master Mitrasen Thapa etc. Famous male singers like Narayan Gopal, Bhaktaraj Acharya, Bachhu Kailash, Deep Shrestha, Arun Thapa, Ramkrisha Dhakal, Ananda Karki, Narendra Pyasi, Babu Bogati, Shiva Pariyar, Pramod Kharel, Jagdish Samal, Swaroop Raj Acharya, Raj Sigdel etc and female singers like Aruna Lama, Taradevi, Kunti Moktan, Manila Sotang, Anju Panta etc are the key figures in this genre.

Classical Nepali songs / Hindustani classical music (wiki)

Hindustani classical music is popular in northern part of South Asia which also includes Nepal. The most common instruments in this genre are Sitar, Sarangi, Tanpura, Bansuri, Shehnai, Harmonium, Tabla etc. Though the classical music in Nepal goes back to several centuries, its recorded form in Nepali language is not very old. A handful of classical Nepali language song break into the mainstream every year.

Ghazal songs: ghazal is a type of poetry which can be recited like poem or sung like songs. Ghazal songs usually have soft music like Sugam Sangeet. It is popular among specific set of adult people. Very few ghazal songs have gained wide popularity in Nepal. Narendra Pyasi, Nisha Desar, Thaneshwor Gautam, Manita Rai, Anju pant are some of the ghazal singers in Nepal. A ghazal released in 2009 "Na birse timilai na paye timilai", sung by Anju Pant, got widespread popularity in Nepal setting a new milestone for Nepali ghazal songs.


Westernized genres  

Nepali Pop Song: Pop songs got wide popularity in Nepal since early 90s. Its popular among teenage and young adults. Lyrics are mostly about love and relationship and Western instruments like guitar, drums, keyboards are used. Legendary singers like Om Bikram Bista, Nabin K bhattarai, Sugam Pokhrel, Anil Singh, Sabin Rai, Adrian Pradhan, Raju Lama, Nima Rumba, Dhiraj Rai, Cool Pokhrel, Deepak Bajracharya to present day singers like Neetesh Jung Kunwar, Sajjan Raj Vaidya, Swoopna Suman have sung many Nepali pop songs.

> Nepali Pop-Folk:  these songs mix typical Nepali lok (folk) lyrics and tune with pop/western instruments. Singer like Bipul Chhettri has sung this kind of songs.

> Nepali Pop - Folk- Rock: mix of the local lyrics and musical instruments with western instruments and rock music have been very successful in Nepal. Great bands of Nepal like Nepathya and 1974 AD follow this tradition. This kind Songs covers wide range of topic from  love, relationship, work, problems, nation to culture.

Nepali Rock / Metal: Nepali rock got popularity since early 90s. Popular Bands in this genre are Cobweb (Divesh Mulmi, Nilesh Joshi, Siddartha Dhakhwa, Srijan Bikram Gyawali, Sanjay Aryal), Robin and looza (Robin Tamang), Mukti and revival (Mukti Shakya, Roshan Kansakar, Sunit Kansakar and Nikhil Tuladhar) etc.

Nepali Hip Hop / Nephop  / Rap Rap in Nepali language got popularity since early 2000s. Its popular among some of the young people. Musically it follows western hip hop. Lyrics typically consists problems of Nepali youth like love-sex, study, future, drugs, immigration, politics etc.  Grish-Pranil (Girish Khatiwada and Pranil L Timalsena), Norbu Sherpa, The Unity (Sudin Pokhrel-da6, Amit-Aidray), Aroj (mostly criticized for vulgar lyrics) were some of the early hip hop singers and groups followed by Anil Adhikari (Yama Buddha), Ashish Rana (Laure), Utsaha joshi (Uniq poet), Anuraag Sharma (MC FLO), Samir Ghising (VTEN), Sandip Bista (Mr D) etc.


Filmy songs:
 songs included in the Nepali feature films covers a big chunk of Nepali recorded music. Usually a typical Nepali movie includes 3 to 5 songs. These songs consists various genres to support the story line of the movie. The most used genres are Lok geet (folk), Sugam Sangeet (modern) and item numbers. Top viewed songs in youtube like Kutu ma kutu, Purba Paschim Rail, Ye daju nasamau etc are all "Filmy songs" of Lok (folk) genre.

Item numbers: These are dance songs usually with fast music and a catchy pick up line which helps movie to get more public attention. Some item numbers may have double meaning lyrics. Item numbers may or may not related to the story line. Production houses usually push one item number in a movie. But sometimes movies do not perform well in the box office despite of having popular item number.