Bhutanese National Anthem for Brass Quintet - “The Thunder Dragon Kingdom” (MFAO World National Anthem Series)

By: Composed by Dasho Aku Tongmi
For: Brass quintet
page one of Bhutanese National Anthem for Brass Quintet - “The Thunder Dragon Kingdom”  (MFAO World National Anthem Series)

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Composer
Composed by Dasho Aku Tongmi
Year of composition
1953
Arranger
Year of arrangement
2015
Difficulty
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
Duration
2 minutes
Genre
Folk music
License details
For anything not permitted by the above licence then you should contact the publisher first to obtain permission.

An arrangement of the national anthem of Bhutan arranged for classical Brass Quintet.

Druk tsendhen ("The Thunder Dragon Kingdom") is the national anthem of Bhutan.

Adopted in 1953, the music is by Aku Tongmi and the words are by Dasho Gyaldun Thinley. Tongmi was educated in India and had recently been appointed leader of the military brass band when the need for an anthem rose at the occasion of a state visit from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India. His original score was inspired by the Bhutanese folk tune "The Unchanging Lotus Throne" (Thri nyampa med pa pemai thri). The melody has twice undergone changes by Tongmi’s successors as band leaders. The original lyrics were 12 lines, but was shortened to the present six-line version in 1964 by a secretary to the king.

As the anthem is inspired by a folk tune, there is a choreography to it as well, originally directed by Tongmi.

“Druk tsendhen” (The Thunder Dragon Kingdom) is how Bhutanese also refer to their country. The music is reminiscent of the native style of music in that region. The composer of the anthem was trained in India, becoming that country’s first bandmaster. After his return to Bhutan, the Indian prime minsiter paid a visit to the country, and the anthem was composed for the occassion, on the request of the Bhutanese king. The original tune was based on the folk song “Thri nyampa med pa pemai thri” (“The Unchanging Lotus Throne”). An interesting note is that the folk song has choreography that goes along with it, making this possibly the only national anthem to be based on a choreographical work.

Despite the claims made in Brozovic's Enciklopedija (1999) and many subsequent authors, who attribute the authorship of this most sacred national compilation to the late Gyaldun, father of the (now) former Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinlay (2008–2013), there are many who believe that the words and the national anthem itself were penned by none other than the much learned and Venerable Dorji Lopen Dolop Droep Namgay of Talo, Punakha. The Dorji Lopen is the senior-most of the four senior Lopens in Bhutan's religious establishment, and often serves as the Deputy Je Khenpo. Dolop Droep Namgay, given his extensive knowledge and wisdom, maintained close personal and working relations with the Third King of Bhutan Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1929–1972), during whose reign, Gyaldun Thinley served in various capacities. It is possible that Gyaldun Thinlay may have been involved in working closely with Dolop Droep Namgay as well as translating the sacred words into English. It is also highly likely that he (and/or his son Jigme Y. Thinlay who served in many important government and political capacities since the 1990s) was one of the persons of first contact for Dalibor Brozovic and any such claims made therein, remained part of Bhutan's history, with little or no investigative work done thereon. However, as to the claims that this beautiful ode to this great nation could have originated, much less penned by Gyaldun Thinley, who, despite his rise through the ranks and importance to Bhutan's history, is not much known for his knowledge or learning, is not viewed favorably or seriously by many. Dolop Droep Namgay on the other hand, through oral tellings again, is renowned for both learning and wisdom. He is also attributed to have designed, named and conveyed the significance of many important national symbols and emblems - most of which are commonly known but not as well documented. An example is the insignia of the various ranks (i.e. Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Colonel, etc.) of the Royal Bhutan Army, the Royal Bhutan Police and the Royal Body Guards; on the specific orders and under the guidance of His Majesty The Third King. Most of these refutations are not documented. They are oral tellings from older to the younger generation. A more thorough and academic investigation may be necessary to determine the true origins of the Druk Tsendhen; be it a lay civil servant or a learned high-monk.

Tongmi was educated in India and had recently been appointed leader of the military brass band when the need for an anthem rose at the occasion of a state visit from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India. His original score was inspired by the Bhutanese folk tune "The Unchanging Lotus Throne" (Thri nyampa med pa pemai thri). The melody has twice undergone changes by Tongmi's successors as band leaders. The original lyrics were 12 lines, but was shortened to the present six-line version in 1964 by a secretary to the king.

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