Whenever we talk about Nepali popular music, Deepak Bajrachaya’s name pops up, probably out of appreciation for his Latino style and soothing vocals. If you didn’t know already you would be surprised to hear what the singer has been re-inventing for the past six years. The veteran musician shares his story with us.
From the beginning
It has already been around 20 years that I have been creating and performing my own kind of music. So far, I have produced about 9 albums. It was in 2006 that I started to perform internationally.
Change of thought
At tours abroad, it’s naturally more Nepalis in the audience. Even so, you get to meet foreigners who are either sound technicians or those who come to see the show. At one time, I was taken aback by a very intriguing question from one such individual. The question was simple but I didn’t have any answer to it. He’d asked, “How do you represent your country with your music when it sounds just like our native music?” The question had its logic and it kept playing in my head from that day onwards. After a chain of thoughts the traditional instruments of Nepal grasped my attention.
A new music is born
Our band dwelled deeper into the instruments and their meanings. The more we learned and understood their playing style, the more we enjoyed playing and composing new songs with them. Hence we started generating a new form of music. We even started experimenting and performing with an ensemble of forty in this form of music.
We started off with the simplest instrument amongst the others to play damaru. What we presumed to be an easy-to-play and common instrument turned out to reveal a history of its own! Another instrument that we experimented with was madal. We were surprised to find out how the bamboo instrument made its way to become a two-sided drum and yet produced the same sound. Alongside, we incorporated numerous traditional as well as rhythm instruments of the Newari culture such as dhime, khi, damokhi, dhaa, nya-khi, nagada, damaha and many others.
When we go onstage, we position ourselves in a very typical way. Those whose instruments produce a rather smaller sound such as flutists stay at the front while percussionists stay at the side of the drums at the back.
It has been overwhelming. Even the elderly people have praised us for our efforts since we are promoting instruments of their time. On the other hand, people of all the age groups have given us positive comments on how we performed the classic hit songs from my album in a very different way!
We are making a documentary of this project, which is currently in the production stage.We want to show the viewers what we have achieved during these six years via this visual document. Furthermore, we are opening a gallery where people will be able to see and learn about traditional instruments.
While using traditional instruments, there are some constraints that are directly related to their pre-defined position in our culture. Hence, we had to be careful while composing songs with their usage. Therefore, we asked the traditional musicians who are in our ensemble to play their own music. Afterwards, we added our music to their traditional compositions. This was indeed one of the most challenging tasks for us as we had to work out all the way with them. This eventually landed us in a position to record our new compositions, though it took us some while to learn to play them. But now, the challenge was with the recorded sounds. The sound of the instruments without their ambience seemed incomplete. Hence we opted to record them in different venues besides the studio and also experimented with the microphone settings along with their positions.
The aim of producing this new form of music has been from the start, a journey that commits to preserve the traditional musical instruments and represent them globally in a modern way yet keeping their aesthetic values intact. In addition, we want to advocate and explain their meaning to those who are less familiar with them. I also wanted my previous listeners to get a taste of a new kind of music that they can directly relate to their society along with their choice. !