Five traditional songs to explore the wondrous culture of Bhutan!

“Music does give soul to the universe, fluttering wings to the mind, and a flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

Music is an integral part of Bhutanese culture. If you listen to it carefully, you can hear the sound of traditional music in Bhutan’s atmosphere.

 This country has jewels hidden within it may it be food, culture, history, sightseeing places, and especially music! There is always a surprise waiting for you in every step you take here!

With the various Bhutanese traditional songs, there are religious songs too. But today we will only talk about folk music!

Instruments for folk music!

No music can be sung without an instrument. So, the musical instruments used in both folk and modern music of Bhutan include:

  • Lingm which is a six-holed flute
  • Dramnyen is a large three-stringed rebec
  • Chiwang is a four-holed bamboo bass flute
  • Kongkha is a bamboo mouth harp
  • Gombu is a bull or buffalo horn

Though string instruments are played in Bhutanese folk music but religious music normally do not use it.

Interestingly, Bhutanese folk music is never combined with popular music of Bhutan. This is what is more exciting for us!

Bhutanese folk music to make you sing along!

Nobody can live without music! So, here is some of the Bhutanese traditional music on an amazing Bhutan cultural tour.

  1. Zhungdra- Bhutanese folk music!

Introduced in the 17th century, this is one of the famous styles of traditional music associated with Bhutanese culture. It is usually characterized by the use of extended vocal tones which gives a simple instrumental melody.

Found in songs like Lhodrak Marpai Zhab on Jigme Drukpa’s album ‘Endless Songs’!

  • Boedra- Tibetan court music!

A traditional genre of Bhutanese music and most importantly the second form of folk music after Zhungdra. The instruments used in this are Chiwang which is a symbol of a horse. Being a folk singing style in Bhutan it was also developed in the 17th century.

  • Zhey and Zhem- Vocal performances during festivals!

The paired Zhey and Zhem introduced in the 17th century are mainly performed during the festivals. They contain elements of both Zhungdra and Boedra. Zhey is performed by men while Zhem is performed by women.

  • Tsangmo- A literary couplet!

Popular in Bhutan, Tsangmo is a literary couplet which is sung in two parts. The first half describes a scenario, followed by the second half describing an emotion such as love, hate, abuse, or ridicule. It is sung in a conversation which also means a competition!

  • Lozey- A vocal traditional song!

Literally translated into ornaments of speech, the first one is a short exchange line while the second is a collection of ballads. Rich in metaphor, they are usually recited in modern language. It is similar to Tsangmo which is sung in vernacular language.

Do you want to murmur the beautiful songs of Bhutan in a traditional way? Then explore Bhutan and soothe your soul with these traditional Bhutanese songs in this mystical land of Bhutan!

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