SOAS University of London

British Academy fund research on music in Nepal

22 October 2021

A British Academy Small Grant has been awarded to Emeritus Professor Richard Widdess (Music Department, School of Arts) for a research project entitled "Singing histories: a comparative survey of devotional singing groups (dāphā) in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal". 

The Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, has been a centre for cultural production and exchange, including religious systems, texts, art and architecture, and performing arts, for some two millennia. Today a multiplicity of historic musical and dance repertoires has been maintained there by Hindu and Buddhist communities, principally in the three, formerly autonomous cities of the Valley. This project focuses on group singing (dāphā), until recently central to community identity and social and religious life, but currently under threat from socio-economic changes and the disasters of the 2015 earthquake and the current Covid-19 pandemic. The project will conduct the first comparative survey of selected dāphā groups across the three cities, to document practices, religious functions, resources, repertoires and historical origins, and to assess the future viability of such groups. Results will inform future research, leading to deeper understandings of music in historical and religious contexts in South Asia.

The project will be undertaken in collaboration with Dr Nutandhar Sharma (Lumbini University), and runs from October 2021 to May 2023.

For further information, contact:

Prof. Richard Widdess, rw4@soas.ac.uk.