SAARC Tourism
Sri Lanka

Music of Sri Lanka

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Music in Sri LankaMusic 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.

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Baila Music
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.

Recorded Albums
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.

Artistic Revolution
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.

Music of Sri LankaUnique 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 stage.

Music Instruments
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.

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