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The Mountain Music Projec

United States

The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya follows two Virginia musicians, who travel to Nepal to explore the extraordinary connections between Appalachian and Himalayan folk music.


The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya follows the journey of two traditional musicians from the hills of Virginia to the mountains of rural Nepal, where they explore the extraordinary connections between Appalachian and Himalayan folk music and culture, particularly with the traditional musicians of the Gandharba caste. The Gandharbas were once the wandering minstrels of the southern Himalayas, bringing news, storytelling, and traditional singing to the villages of rural Nepal. Their songs once helped to unite disparate kingdoms into a unified Nepal, and even in recent years Gandharba singers played a great role in Nepal's democracy movement. Although in Hindu mythology, Gandharbas were thought to be divine angel musicians, their caste is low among the Hindu hierarchy and they have long been considered to be 'untouchable,' unfit to share water with people of higher castes. Adding to their troubles, their rich musical traditions are at risk of extinction as radio, television, and recorded music encroach upon rural Nepali life. Musicians/Hosts Tara Linhardt and Danny Knicely join Nepali musician Buddhiman Gandharba on a musical tour through rural Nepal, where they discover surprising similarities between these seemingly distant cultures. In the melodies of the traditional Nepali Sarangi (fiddle) or the taste of homemade Raksi (moonshine), there's a thread that hearkens back to Old-Time Appalachian culture and to rural communities around the world, where people are poor but proud, where lyrics tell of lost loves, murders, wayfaring travelers, and even farm animals, in a place where music is still meant for the porch rather than the stage. Tara, Danny, and Buddhiman are off in search of this 'higher lonesome sound' and travel to the villages of Lamjung, Palpa, Gorkha, Chitwan, and Pokhara in search of musicians who are keeping the Gandharba traditions alive. As they make their way through the strikingly beautiful mountains of Nepal, they meet rural luthiers carving their instruments from a single piece of wood, families making moonshine in homemade stills, and a handful of old men who remember the days when musicians were used to bring rain to drought-stricken areas. The language may be different, and the mountains may be higher, but it soon becomes clear that their cultures share more than just melodies. Along their journey, they build bridges between these two rural cultures (and in some cases they build actual roads when the van can't go any further). And of course, they play music as they travel, the Appalachian ballads blending seamlessly with the Nepali Chanchari songs, the rhythms, melodies, and lyrics nearly interchangeable. They meet Tikki Maya - one of the few Gandharba women who overcame great cultural taboos to perform her heartfelt songs, Mohan - a traditional healer and one of the last living players of the banjo-like Arbaj, and Hum Bahadur - who at 75 years of age, still travels the countryside singing of the injustices of the caste system, like an unsung Woody Guthrie. Throughout this journey, the words, wisdom, and anecdotes of musicians and folklorists from both Virginia and Nepal, such as Buddy Pendleton and the late Mike Seeger, guide us through this unique musical marriage. The Mountain Music Project is a celebration of rural culture and uplifting musical traditions.

Cast & Characters

Jacob Penchansky Submission Contact Production Danny Knicely Co-Producer Jacob Penchansky Director (1st Feature); Producer (1st Feature); Executive Producer (1st Feature) Tara Linhardt Production Coordinator; Co-Producer Cast Buddhiman Gandharba Supporting Danny Knicely Lead Actor Tara Linhardt Lead Actor Camera Jacob Penchansky Cinematographer/DP (1st Feature); Sound Mixer; Boom Operator Praveen Singh Cinematographer/DP Sanjeev Monga Cinematographer/DP Post Production Jacob Penchansky Sound Editor; Assitant Editor Sanjeev Monga Editor Composers Buddhiman Gandharba Original Music/Composer Danny Knicely Original Music/Composer Representation Jacob Penchansky Agent; Manager; Publicist Print Traffic Jacob Penchansky Print Shipper; Print Return; Preview Return

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