Monday, February 8, 2010

Rangzen Shonu

A friend of mine, Tenzin Tsetan, is launching a fan site for Rangzen Shonu, basically the best music band in the history of Tibet. I was lucky enough to get to write the following introduction:

Rangzen Shonu is a Tibetan rock band that burst on to the exile music scene in the late 1980s, firmly establishing the genre of Tibetan rock and forever changing the landscape of Tibetan music. As one of the first Tibetan rock bands, Rangzen Shonu’s signature sound of soulful song and meaningful lyrics accompanied only by the acoustic and electric guitar captured the hearts and minds of Tibetans in Tibet and in exile. The release in 1987 of their self-produced album titled Rangzen Shonu albums marked a historic moment in the nascent Tibetan music industry.

Rangzen Shonu’s three members were Tenzin Choesang, Norbu Choephel and Paljor. Their songwriter was Professor Ngawang Jinpa. The songs are folk-like in simplicity and sound, evocative of the old songs of the highlands, and yet nuanced and complex in meaning and melody, full of poetry and passion. These absolutely beautiful songs are infused with the spirit of freedom and resistance and resonate powerfully with Tibetans of all generations even today. Their song “We Tibetan Nomads”, one of the most popular Tibetan songs of all time, can be said to function as an unofficial Tibetan national anthem.

Although Rangzen Shonu has now been disbanded for many years, Tibetan music lovers honor and remember their immeasurable contribution to Tibetan music.