The Educational Institute of the Humanities celebrated its 18th anniversary recently. Since 1998, this music research institution has done much to promote Sri Lanka’s indigenous music.
The institute released a cassette of original Sinhala music, “Apata Vechcha-de”, in 2001, and another compilation of traditional songs titled “Sigiriye Landune”. The compilations cover a range of indigenous music, including Kandyan, Ruhunu and Sabaragamuwa music and viridu, welcome songs, battlefield songs and narrative songs.
The path to re-establishing Hela music in our mainstream culture was strewn with obstacles in the form of Western, Carnatic and Hindustani music influences.
The main reason for the neglect of our national music is that many of our musicians go overseas to study music and they turn a deaf ear to our traditional Sinhala music.
In this connection, we should be deeply grateful to the late William Bandara Makulouwa, a distinguished music scholar and composer.
Mr. Makulouwa had a deep knowledge of our indigenous music, vocal and instrumental, and he also wrote music and books on music, championing our traditional music. Unfortunately, some musicians have failed to appreciate Mr. Makulouwa’s contribution to our arts and culture. This is a great pity.
The imitation of foreign songs has done much harm to our classical music. The mass media is largely to blame for not training the younger generation to appreciate native-grown music. Our folk culture has been spoilt by the continuous flow of foreign content television entertainment.
Some say our traditional music is not up to international standard. This is untrue.
How should we set about promoting our own music?
We should set up an institution dedicated to Sri Lanka’s indigenous music. Sinhala vocal and instrumental music should be part of the school curriculum. There should also be daily TV programmes dedicated to promoting Sinhala classical music.