The instruments, music, songs and dances of the diverse ethnic groups of Nepal are unique in the world. Digitisation is the only way present and future generations in Nepal can access the playing of lost instruments, melodies of songs which are no longer sung, and ceremonies which are no longer performed.
The Music Museum of Nepal holds over 3,000 hours of recorded songs, instrumental music, dance and sacred ceremonies from pre-modern times. The collection is constantly expanding, thanks to people donating cassettes and reel tapes. They record artistic and cultural traditions that have continued for many hundreds of years and have not usually been documented in any form. Additionally, with the burning of Newari monastery libraries in the 1840s under Jung Bahadur Rana, the written record of music and dance culture in Nepal is very rare.
Much of the greater archive in the hearts and minds of the elders has already been lost over the last two generations, with the majority of the younger generation having left their villages and communities. Many left to fight during the recent civil war; others have left to study, or through the necessity of seeking work. Preserving the existing recordings is vital to maintain the tradition.
Stemming from a digitisation project in 2014, the project digitised 370 mini DV tapes and 370 cassettes. Two technicians were trained in digitisation. The project had some resonance in the region, thanks to talks held at Tribhuvan University and a paper presented at the International Symposium on Folk Music and Performance.