Reviving old Bhutanese melodies

Pang Ser Sho cover by Hemlal Darjee and Tshering Yangdon (aka Pinkey). Pic : Lojig Studio

Bhutanese music lovers feel that old Bhutanese rigsar songs give a nostalgic vibe and brings forth memories their youthful days


When it comes to songs and melodies, the popular phrase ‘old is gold’ definitely holds water.

While the changing times have evolved Bhutanese music to a new phase, most feel that the rigsar songs of the past have its own appeal and rustic Bhutanese charm.

The music industry in the country has also recently seen unprecedented modern renditions of Bhutanese songs from the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000.

Some of the trending songs are the soulful Nga Gi Choelu Masong where famous artist Sonam Wangchen goes duet with SingyeWangmo to pay tribute to Thinley Gyamtsho and Tashi Gyelsten for shaping music genre of rigser in Bhutanese music.

We even have Hemlal Darjee and Tshering Yangdon singing Pang Sershoand Ama Lay Jomi cover by Ugyen Seldon and Sonam Wangdi whereas, Gem Tshering goes solo on Pangtse Kira, and the list goes on.

Kheng Sonam Dorji, the Executive Director of the Music of Bhutan Research Centre, shares that he supports modern renditions of old Bhutanese songs as it revives the traditional Bhutanese music and youths coming forward to learn such musical aspects is an encouraging trend.

Tandin Dorji, a well-known musician in the country, says that he is happy that old Bhutanese songs are being reprised which shows that the songs sung during his younger days were of good quality. He adds that the advancement in technological gap in this modern era to the previous one that is during 90’s is vast.

He further added that, “A good reprised song should consist of new music, clarity in delivering the lyrics and tune of the song as the original numbers. The singer should consult with the original singer of the song to get permission, so as to avoid copyright infringement issues.”

However, there are others who are of the view that reprising of songs can diminish the authenticity of the original songs.

But Dechen Pem, a notable artist in Bhutanese music industry, advises the younger generation while reprising the old songs to give their best without changing the words and tune of the song so our audience can appreciate their fine work.

On the other hand, Lojig Jigme, a music composer and producer for Lojig Studio in Thimphu, opines that he has keen interest towards old Bhutanese songs and under the banner of ‘Unplugged’ he intends to reprise thesetimeless melodies.

Lojig Jigme also got positive feedbacks from music enthusiasts and drastically improved his viewership in social media, mainly through his YouTube channel.

He feels that with modern technologies and software, there can be a huge improvement of the old songs. He also consults with the original song writer and singer on daily basis.

We feel that the songs from 80’s and 90’s hit a different vibe where it rekindles our youthful days, Tshering Dori, a music enthusiast, said.

With recent upheaval of old melodies, Hemlal Darjee gained popularity and skyrocketed his views on social media through his modern rendition of Pang Sersho where audience wanted him to reprise the song.

In singing the song he felt it was an opportunity and blessing to sing such a profound song composed by great writers and singers during those times.

Nidup Dorji, a prominent figure in Bhutanese music and film industry says, “I feel proud and happy that my songs are being reprised in the present days. It gives me joy and pride that my songs were good and impactful to the society in the past and as well as the present generations.”

The veteran actor and musician adds that music composers and singers to maintain their originality and compose new ideas without any imitation from other international countries, while also maintaining Bhutanese authenticity and trademarks among others.