Music of Sri Lanka
of Sri Lanka is the amalgamation of indigenous traditions and influences of
India and Europe. Music is a natural mode of expressing one's creativity.
Ancient Sri Lankans too used music to express their creative thoughts. With
the course of time North and South Indian traditions of music influenced Sri
Lankan music. European powers like the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English
ruled the country for about 200 years. They also left their impact.
Baila is a popular dance music form in Sri Lanka. This style of music in
Sri Lanka was inspired by the Portuguese. Baila Music originated centuries
ago. After the advent of Europeans it accepted many European instruments and
rhythms. In the 1960s Baila music entered the mainstream of Sri Lankan
music. Radio broadcaster Vermon Corea has always created Baila music.
Traditional Open-Air Drama
Conventional open-air drama referred to in Sinhala as kolam, sokari or
nadagam has been popular in Lankana hamlets and towns for centuries.
Villagers, after a day's work in their fields and the women, after working
hard in their homes, enjoy these dramas and refresh themselves. The artists
performing are also local. It was the most easily available form of
entertainment available in the villages.
First recorded album in Sri Lanka was Nurthi, which came out in 1903
via Radio Ceylon. The radio station which was established in 1925, had the
monopoly of Sri Lankan airwaves for a long time. Vernon Corea, one of the
prominent broadcasters of Sri Lanka made hay of the opportunity. He
introduced Sri Lankan music on the Radio Ceylon.
Influence of Indian Film Music
Indian film melodies were always loved by the people of Sri Lanka.
Especially during the decade of 1960s Indian film music made considerable
inroads in Sri Lanka. Tamil/Sinhala songs were composed on the tunes of the
Indian movies. These songs became the music of Sri Lankan households. Indian
film stars also became popular in Sri Lanka. Similarly Sri Lankan actors
like Sunil Shantha had more fans among Indian audiences than in their home
country. Radio Ceylon was also very popular in the souther states of India,
particularly Tamil Nadu.
This was the time when a kind of artistic revolution took place in Sri
Lankan sphere of music. Lyricists like Mahagama Sekara Shantha and Molligoda
felt the need of reaching the people they had long ignored. These lyricists
are known for their deeply poetic, and honestly expressed ideology. Through
their literature, they promoted the feelings of nationalism in the country.
Ananda Samarakoon, a respected lyricist of this period, composed the
national anthem of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan Music
This revolution helped the Sri Lankan film musicians to develop their own
style of music. Prominent among the Lankan musicians were Nimal Mendis,
Mohamed Ghouse, W.D. Amaradeva and Premasiri Kernadasa. Pop groups like Los
cabelleros led by Neville Fernando, The La Bambas, The Humming Birds and Los
Muchachos came on the Sri Lankan stage on music in the mid-1960s. All these
pop groups were impressed by Caribbean folk singar Harry Belafonte and
played calypso-style baila.
Return of Indian Music
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, pop music calypso ruled the
households of Sri Lanka. However by 1980, Indian film music made a comeback.
It removed pop from the stage and reaffirmed itself on the Sri Lankan music
Many music instruments were developed by the indigenous tribal groups of
Sri Lanka. Several of these instruments are still used. Most used among
these is Kandyan Drum, a double-headed barrel-shaed drum. Thammatama is twin
drum played with two sticks.Yak Bera is also a type of drum which is played
by hand on on side and by a stick on the other. Hand Rabana is a drum
similar to tambourine.