Baila is the term used to describe a form of
dance musicpopular on the island of Sri Lanka. The genre originated centuries ago among the 'kaffir' communities (mixed communities consisting of Portuguese, African and native Sri Lankan people), and was later amalgamated with European instruments and eastern and western rhythms, especially rhythms found in Spain and northern European folk music.
Baila music, though popular as a folk art for centuries in the country, was introduced to Sri Lanka's mainstream during the early years of the 1960s when singer
Wally Bastien(who was also a police officer), began adapting the 6/8 'kaffirhina' rhythms to accommodate Sinhala lyrics. By the 1970s, owing largely to the contributions of musicians Clarence Wijewardaneand Maxwell Mendis; baila had grown to become a recognized (and respected) style of Sri Lankan popular music.
The term "baila" is adapted from the Portuguese verb "bailar" - meaning "to dance". The popular Baila singer "Volly Bastian" was known as "Father of Baila in Sri Lanka", also a popular Baila song by
Saman de Silvato tribute him.
M.S. Fernando A.K.A "Baila Chakrawarthi" was a key role in Sri Lankan baila history.
Thus, Baila music, as its etymology suggests, is deeply rooted in Sri Lanka's colonial history - particularly within the communities established by the Portuguese traders of the 16th century. These communities (consisting of Portuguese traders and the slaves that they had brought with them from the Western Coast of Africa) gradually combined with communities of native Sri Lankans. From this cultural interchange, emerged the musical style now referred to as "baila".
kaffirhinastyle (often referred to by its "6/8" time) has been adapted from violin, Bongo Drums, Mandolin, Box Guitarand honky tonkpiano to accommodate modern instruments - specifically the electric guitarand synthesiser/workstation keyboards, octapad, and drum kit. Due, in part, to this evolution, it is most often heard during parties, school reunions, charity dinner dances, hotel concerts, and weddings. Contemporary baila is also characterized by comical lyrics, often loosely adapted from themes derived from Sri Lanka's history and/or folklore.
Popular baila artists include
M.S. Fernando, Anton Jones, Paul Fernando, Desmond de Silva, Sunil Perera(lead singer of the pop group The Gypsies), Nithi Kanagaratnam, Annesley Malewana, A.E.Manoharan, Dalreen, and late Clarence Wijewardene, Maxwell Mendisand many more.
There are 3 sub genres of baila.
1) Chorus Baila - typical baila song
2) Waada Baila - this is a contest between several baila singers. Judges give them a topic and competitors must compose their own lyrics for the specific baila rhythm.Judges select the singer with highest marks as the winner. Marks are given in different criteria: Meaningfulness, the flow, and rhyme are some of them.
Well known Baila Rhythms
Vernon Coreahas been credited with having helped to spread baila music to the English-speaking world via English-language programs aired on Radio Ceylonand BBC Radio Londonduring the late 1960s and 1970s.
In December 2006 a Non Stop Dance CD with greatest baila hits titled Sri Lankan Open House Party was released in Sri Lanka. The Music was directed by renowned composer
Suresh Maliyaddewhile the music to the CD was provided by Niresh Perera ( The Gypsies) on drums, Mahinda Bandara (Fortunes) on guitar, Tilak Dias on bass, Tissasiri Perera on key boards and Visharadha Monaj Pieris on percussion. Singers powering these all time evergreens are Kanishka Wijetunga, Ganesha Wijetunga, Mariazelle Goonetilleke and Suresh Maliyadde.
Popular baila songs
(Note: The external audio song links below require Real Audio Player)
*" [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B2EW22DV4Q&mode=related&search= Asoka Mal - Mala Nelala] " (YouTube) by
M S Fernando.
*"Bombay Merry Hi
Mignonne Fernando& The Jetliners "
*' [http://www.sinhalajukebox.org/cgi-bin/smi.cgi?s=A1070001C04 Chuda Manike] ' by
Desmond de Silva
*' [http://www.infolanka.com/miyuru_gee/mm/m424.ram Goowe Gaenu Paraadai] ' by Sandun Wijesiri (from the Drama 'Samudra Devi'). This song contains some very creative
*' [http://www.sinhalajukebox.org/cgi-bin/smi.cgi?s=A1190003C04 Hai Hooi Babi Aachchi] ' by Maxwell Mendis ( Original Artist - Volley Bastian)
*' [http://www.sinhalajukebox.org/cgi-bin/smi.cgi?s=A1140075C04 I Don't Know Why] ' by
*' [http://www.sinhalajukebox.org/cgi-bin/smi.cgi?s=A1130012C04 Kandy Lamissi] ' by Mariazelle Gunathilake
*"Lassana Amba Gassak Soyala by
M S Fernando"
*"Mage sudu Mame" - C.T. Fernando
*"Mamma Bohoma Bayawuna" - Maxwell Mendis
*" [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUG_JGninAM Nelum Male - Pethi Kadala] " (YouTube)
M.S.Fernandoand Mariasel Goonathilake.
*' [http://www.sinhalajukebox.org/cgi-bin/smi.cgi?s=A1140010C04 Ojayee] ' by
*' [http://www.sinhalajukebox.org/cgi-bin/smi.cgi?s=A1140013C04 Piti Kotapan] ' by
*' [http://www.sinhalajukebox.org/cgi-bin/smi.cgi?s=A1140016C04 Singyore] ' by
*"Lankawata baila gena volley Bastian" - this song is a tribute to Volley Bastian
*"Pretty Foxy Hen" - Luke Henriques
Music of Goa- The Goan music (Konkani songs) is similar to "Baila".
* [http://www.kanishkaonline.com Listen to sample clips of Latest Baila CD with Greatest Baila Hits]
* [http://www.maliyadde.com/ New Non Stop Baila CD released in Dec 2006]
* [http://www.sinhalasongs.net/ Sinhala songs]
* [http://www.sinhalajukebox.org Baila songs on Sinhalajukebox]
* [http://www.allsrilanka.com/directory/entertain/music.htm Sri Lanka Music Directory]
* [http://www.labaila.com/ Listen to baila on the LA Baila site]
* [http://www.slbc.lk Live Streaming from the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation]
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