Baila is the term used to describe a form of dance music popular 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 Wijewardane and 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 Silva to 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".

Contemporary baila

Today, this kaffirhina style (often referred to by its "6/8" time) has been adapted from violin, Bongo Drums, Mandolin, Box Guitar and honky tonk piano to accommodate modern instruments - specifically the electric guitar and 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 Mendis and 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

Anna Juwano

Radio broadcaster Vernon Corea has been credited with having helped to spread baila music to the English-speaking world via English-language programs aired on Radio Ceylon and BBC Radio London during 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 Maliyadde while 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)
*" [ Asoka Mal - Mala Nelala] " (YouTube) by M S Fernando.
*"Bombay Merry Hi Mignonne Fernando & The Jetliners "
*' [ Chuda Manike] ' by Desmond de Silva
*' [ Goowe Gaenu Paraadai] ' by Sandun Wijesiri (from the Drama 'Samudra Devi'). This song contains some very creative violin interludes!
*' [ Hai Hooi Babi Aachchi] ' by Maxwell Mendis ( Original Artist - Volley Bastian)
*' [ I Don't Know Why] ' by The Gypsies"
*' [ Kandy Lamissi] ' by Mariazelle Gunathilake
*"Lassana Amba Gassak Soyala by M S Fernando"
*"Mage sudu Mame" - C.T. Fernando
*"Mamma Bohoma Bayawuna" - Maxwell Mendis
*" [ Nelum Male - Pethi Kadala] " (YouTube) M.S.Fernando and Mariasel Goonathilake.
*"Nurse Nona"
*' [ Ojayee] ' by The Gypsies
*' [ Piti Kotapan] ' by The Gypsies
*"Polkatu Hande"
*' [ Singyore] ' by The Gypsies
*"Ranpota Thelambuwa"
*"Sudu Menike"
*"Lankawata baila gena volley Bastian" - this song is a tribute to Volley Bastian
*"Bothalingare Bothalingare"
*"Pretty Foxy Hen" - Luke Henriques

ee also

*Music of Goa - The Goan music (Konkani songs) is similar to "Baila".
*Vernon Corea


External links

* [ Listen to sample clips of Latest Baila CD with Greatest Baila Hits]
* [ New Non Stop Baila CD released in Dec 2006]
* [ Sinhala songs]
* [ Baila songs on Sinhalajukebox]
* [ Sri Lanka Music Directory]
* [ Listen to baila on the LA Baila site]
* [ Live Streaming from the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • baila — s. f. 1. Baile, bailado. 2. Mulher que baila. = BAILADEIRA   ‣ Etimologia: derivação regressiva de bailar baila s. f. 1.  [Antigo] Teia de torneio. 2.  [Antigo] Estacada. 3. Enumeração, menção. 3.  [Informal] Aquilo que se destina a ser falado ou …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • baila — bailà sf. (4) bailė, baimė: Nustvėrė mane bailà Tvr. Jam bailõs nėra, ar vidurnaktis, ar ne Rod. Aš tam vaikui išvarysiu baĩlą, paėmęs diržą Švnč. ^ Bailõj akys plačios Švnč …   Dictionary of the Lithuanian Language

  • Baila — Le baila est un genre populaire de musique à danser au Sri Lanka. Il est l héritage de l influence portugaise et de l importation d esclaves noirs, les cafres. C est une musique créole métissée avec des influences européennes et indiennes. Resté… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • baila — ► sustantivo femenino ZOOLOGÍA Cabracho, pez marino. * * * baila1 (del lat. «luparĭa») f. Raño (pez). baila2 (ant.) f. Baile (acción de bailar, etc.). * * * baila1. (Quizá del mozár. lobaira, y este del lat. luparĭa). f …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • baila — baila1 (Quizá del mozár. lobaira, y este del lat. luparĭa). f. raño (ǁ pez). baila2 1. f. 1. ant. baile (ǁ acción de bailar). 2. ant. baile (ǁ manera de bailar). 3. ant …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • baila — sustantivo femenino raño, perca, percha, trucha de mar. * * * Sinónimos: ■ raño, perca …   Diccionario de sinónimos y antónimos

  • baila — बैल …   Indonesian dictionary

  • baila — bailo f. nourrice. « Diàussi ! Diàussi ! ma bailo ! la bravo Gueritoun ! fasié lou papo en davalan d a reculoun. » F. Gras. voir noirissa, maire de lach …   Diccionari Personau e Evolutiu

  • baila — Bail. bailable.. Admitting of bail, as, a bailable offense; entitled to be released on bail, as, a bailable prisoner …   Ballentine's law dictionary

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