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date: 14 December 2019


  • Mireille Helffer
  • , revised by Gert-Matthias Wegner
  •  and Simonne Bailey


Shawm of Nepal. It is used by the Damāi tailor–musicians as the melody instrument of the pañcai bājā ensemble. The sahanai common in the Gorkha district of central Nepal has seven equidistant fingerholes plus a vent, and no thumbhole. Instruments in other areas have seven fingerholes and a thumbhole. The size varies considerably with a body about 31 cm long plus a bell, originally of brass, about 10 cm long. The brass staple and the reed are about 6.5 cm long. The curved wooden body, with conical bore, is made in two longitudinal halves, later rejoined and secured with plaited cane rings. The compound double reed is made from palmyra palm leaf (Borassus flabellifer; tār-patra in Nepali). Sahanai are used in matching pairs, one shawm taking the melodic line (rāgī sahanai) while the other sounds a drone (surai sahanai); they are played with circular breathing. Related instruments include the ...

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