Subi Shah’s Holistic Theory of Nepali Performing Arts: Implications for Research and Teaching

  • Anna Marie Stirr University of Hawaiʻ'i at Manoa, Honolulu, UNITED STATES of AMERICA
Keywords: Cultural Sustainability, Dance, Decolonizing, Drama, Music, Nepal, Performance

Abstract

Subi Shah (1922-2008) was a Nepali performer and educator whose life’s work was to preserve and promote Nepali folk genres of music, song, dance, and drama, especially the wide variety of these that make up the tradition known as Pangdure. Raised in this tradition, he became one of its leading exponents. He did so outside of the academy and was thus free from disciplinary strictures. Although he was consulted and honored by state cultural policymakers in the 1980s and 1990s, many of his contributions remain unrecognized. This study analyzes five of his texts, building on my 20 years of engagement as a scholar and performer with the traditions described therein. The objectives of the study are to identify key aspects of Shah’s theories of performance. The study finds that Shah’s descriptions and analysis of integrated performance practice valorize a performance tradition with its own unique worldviews and theories. It concludes that teaching these worldviews and theories will help maintain the cultural sustainability of this and other Nepali performance traditions, by helping students make connections among the traditionally related aspects of performance: instrumental music, song, poetry, dance, and drama. Further, it demonstrates the broader applicability of Shah’s methods for holistic performance scholarship within and beyond Nepal, which contributes to decolonizing ethnomusicology by centering a non-Western theory and methodology from outside the academy.

 

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Acharya, G., & Rayamajhi, D. (2017). Magar Jatiko Lokgit tatha Loksangit. Nepal Music Center.

Babiracki, C. (1991). Tribal Music in the Study of Great and Little Traditions of Indian Music. In Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music (pp. 69–87). University of Chicago Press.

Bakhle, J. (2005). Two Men and Music. Oxford University Press.

Brown, K. B. (2004). The That System of Seventeenth-Century North Indian Ragas: A Preliminary Report on the Treatises of Kamilkhani. Asian Music, 35(1), 1–13.

Jairazbhoy, N. A. (2008). What Happened to Indian Music Theory? Indo-Occidentalism? Ethnomusicology, 52(3), 329–377.

Mason, M. A., & Turner, R. (2020). Cultural Sustainability: A Framework for Relationships, Understanding, and Action. Journal of American Folklore, 133(527), 81–99.

Mignolo, W. D. (2007). Introduction: Coloniality of Power and De-Colonial Thinking. Cultural Studies, 21(2–3), 155–167.

Mrigendraman, Saptamuni, Shah, S., & Bajracharya, B. (1994). Nrityakala (2nd ed.). Sajha Prakashan.

Nayar, S. (1989). Bhatkande’s Contribution to Music: A Historical Perspective. Popular Prakashan.

Parajuli, M., & Giri, J. D. (2011). Nepali Lok Sahityako Ruprekha. Sajha Prakashan.

Rheinberger, H.-J. (1997). Toward a Theory of Epistemic Things: Synthesizing Proteins in the Test Tube. Stanford University Press.

Royal Nepal Academy. (2003). Brihat Nepali Shabdakosh (6th ed.). Academy Publishers.

Shah, S. B. (n.d). Introduction to Nepali Tunes. Unpublished manuscript.

Shah, S. B. (Subi). (1981). Madal. Sajha Prakashan.

Shah, S. B. (Subi). (2006). Nepali Lokgitko Jhalak. Sajha Prakashan.

Shankar, S. (2012). Flesh and Fish Blood: Postcolonialism, Translation, and the Vernacular. UC Press.

Tingey, C. (1990). Heartbeat of Nepal: The Panchai Baja. Royal Nepal Academy.

Weidman, A. (2007). Singing the Classical, Voicing the Modern. Duke University Press.

Published
2021-06-30
How to Cite
Stirr, A. M. (2021). Subi Shah’s Holistic Theory of Nepali Performing Arts: Implications for Research and Teaching. Jurai Sembah, 2(1), 22-27. https://doi.org/10.37134/juraisembah.vol2.1.3.2021
Section
Articles