Indian classical music and the Portuguese colonizers were the three
biggest influences on Sri Lankas music scenario. While Buddhism
arrived in 300 BC, after the visit of Gautama Buddha, the Portuguese
arrived in the 15th century. The African slaves who came along with the
Portuguese added further harmony to the music of the island. As the
Portuguese brought cantiga ballads, ukuleles and guitars, the slaves
brought their dance music called baila. As seen today, the music of Sri
Lanka can be categorised into the following-
Traditional folk music of Sri Lanka
Traditional folk music existed from the very beginning of its race and
it under the Buddhist environment. The ordinary people.wre the one to
use this form of music.
Local drama music
is based on low country tunes and it is not a well
developed form of music. Limited to very few notes about 3~4 and It is
used by the ordinary people for pleasure and entertainment and is
limited to very few notes, about 3~4.
is a much more developed form of drama evolving under
the influence of South Indian street plays, introduced by some South
was first introduced by C. Don Bastian of Dehiwala,
taking the cue from Indian dramas. It was John De Silva who developed it
and did Ramayanaya in 1886.
Hindustani classical music (Ragadari Music)
In 1934 Ravindranath Tagore visited Sri Lanka with a group of artists
and performed a drama. He also laid the foundation stone for Sri
Pali at Horana and later introduced music, art and dancing. His
visit brought drastic changes into the Sri Lankan music scene.
South Indian classical music (Karnataka Music)
This type of Music can be seen in South India and northern part of Sri
Lanka and used by the Tamil community.
Tamil and Hindustani Film music
During the early years film production was not in vogue in Sri Lanka
and films were imported from India. Film music was copied from the
Indian counterparts.Rekhawa produced by Sir Lester James
Peiris was the first Sri Lankan film produced using Sri Lankan music. Nurthi"
is the first recorded music to come out of Sri Lanka
Western classical music
The British introduced western music to Sri Lanka during their period
of rule from 1815 to when the country gained freedom in 1948. Thus, the
Sri Lankans learned the art of playing the piano too.
Sinhala light music
Some artists visited India to learn music and later started to
introduce light music.Ananda Samarakone who composed the national anthem
was the pioneer in this field.
Originally, Baila consisted of vocals with a guitar and handclaps or
otherwise improvised percussion, but now electric guitars, synthesizers
and other modern developments have been incorporated. However, it is at
the roots of modern Sri Lankan music.