This song book emerges out of an encounter with Morup Namgyal in Leh, Ladkah, a well-known folk singer whose music practice has contributed to the revival of Ladakhi and Tibetan cultural traditions. Also known as the “Song Collector” Morup Namgyal has been saving and singing traditional folk songs that reflect the changing environmental conditions of Himalayan mountains and its peoples. 

After listening to his many stories some of which were accompanied by his plaintive singing, he opened up his archive to us—a handwritten folio of songs now long forgotten that are stored on faded scraps of paper gathered while travelling throughout the region in the 1960s. These songs and their chronicles of environmental change are fated to disappear like the glaciers that Mr. Namgyal sings about in his soulful words of mourning and loss.

Radio Interview Leh ︎︎︎

Download Song Book PDF here ︎︎︎

Explore dedicated LISTENING TO ICE website︎︎︎

Supported by the British Council through their 2021-22 Creative Commissions initiative top-up grant.

SINGING ICE is part of the broader Listening to Ice project which brought a small team of scientists and researchers from India and the UK together to conduct fieldwork and deep listening workshops at Drang Drung glacier in the Zanskar region of the Karakoram range in the Himalayas.

Water from a local glacier in Leh was collected by Jigmet Angmo and used in her watercolour illustrations.

When the wind hits the glacier, there is a whistling sound. . .  shrrrrrrr. . . that's also music. And when the water flows, everyone says that the waterfall has a sound... thol thol thol thol thol thol. . . When it snows a lot and we pass through the snow, we have to stay totally silent. If someone makes a noise, the snow goes. . . dhrrr.  . . and causes an avalanche through the vibration.

It is this combined urgency to both preserve and share the environmental knowledge embedded in materials—in stories and in songs, in the sounds of the wind and tumbling of glacial streams, in the soft silence of snow and the rumble of falling rocks—that guided the making of this songbook. 

Our hope is that this songbook will fall into many hands and be used widely for learning and teaching others about the environmental histories of Ladakh that are recorded in its poetry and rhythms.

In brining scientific research and local knowledge of glaciers together Listening to Ice aims to generate new insights into our current ecological condition. The collaboration with Morup Namgyal makes a significant contribution towards this goal and we are thus very grateful to him for sharing his time, insights and wisdom with us.

Sing Ice workshop held at the Women's Alliance of Ladakh, Chubi, Leh 11am-2pm 27 August 2022.

Conversation with Morup Namgyal recorded in his home 7 October 2021.


27 August, Leh


SINGING ICE: Ladakhi folk songs about mountains, glaciers, rivers, and streams
is the result of a collaboration between Morup Namgyal and researchers Susan Schuppli and Faiza Ahmad Khan with assistance from Jigmet Singge and Kunzang Deachen at Local Futures Ladakh.

Meant to be sung aloud, these folk songs were collected by Morup Namgyal over many decades. The selection, brought together in this book, was scanned, transcribed and translated in 2022.

Translated from Ladakhi to English by Tashi Morup and edited by Niyati Dhuldhoya. Ladakhi text edited by Khanpo Konchok Phandey and Kunzang Deachen.

Watercolour Illustrations by Jigmet Angmo.

Designed by Radha Pandey.

Printworks, New Delhi, 103 pages full colour in an edition of 500 copies.