The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


It might be hard to play but the danyen is worth learning.  Sounds like a banjo, three double strings. American broadcaster NPR did a lovely piece on street players who pluck the instrument on the streetside in Lhasa and Tibet's other few sizeable towns. It sounds like the blues, said NPR reporter Jack Chance. And it surely does, strummed to songs about farming, yak herding, lost love and occupation of the last five six decades. I spent an hour with grubby old men and defiant-faced youths on the streets surrounding the Jokhang temple, Lhasa's main prayer retreat. My photo below comes from a book about Tibet's dying crafts (much of the tourist baubles sold in Tibet are made in India or Nepal) was published in a book produced by the Dropenling craft centre in Lhasa. Showcase of the Tibetan Crafts Initiative, which protects local craftwork, the Dropenling sells danyens in various states for ornamentation from US$100. Sales are brisk, say staff - tourists like them for mantlepieces back home. Young nationalistic Tibetans meanwhile have taken to the banjo-like acoustic sounds of this lovely instrument to keep and show their traditions in a wave of a Mando-pop and Canto-pop from the Chinese lowlands.


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Nuggets from our archive

1999 - 'The eMusic Market', written by Gordon McConnell it focuses on how the internet could change the music industry. Boy was he on the money, years before any of us had heard of an iPod or of Napster.