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Ambalama | Butterflies | Exorcism and The Occult | Kumbuk | Palm | Rice | Traditional Dance | Traditional Musical Instruments

Sri Lanka's Traditional Musical Instruments

The classical Sinhalese Orchestra consists of five categories of instruments. But, the drum, is the king of local percussions instruments and without it, there will be no dance.

The vibrant beat of the rhythm of the drums form the basic of the dance. The dances feet bounce off the floor and they leap and swirl in patterns that reflex the complex rhythms of the drum beat.

This drum beat may seem simple on the first hearing but it takes a long time to master the intricate rhythms and variations, which the drummer sometimes can bring to a crescendo of intensity.

Drums - (in Sinhala "Bera")

There are three types of drums:
•  one faced
•  two faced
•  flat faced

There are six basics drums, and they can be recognized when in use.

•  Gatabera - The typical Sinhala Dance is identified as the Kandyan dance and this drum is indispensable to this dance.
•  Yak-bera - This is the demon drum or the, drum used in low country dance in which the dancers wear masks and perform devil dancing, which has become a highly developed form of art.
•  Dawula - It is a barrel shaped drum, and it was used as a companion drum in the past, to keep strict time with the beat.
•  Thammattama - A flat, two faced drum. The drummer strikes the drum on the two surfaces on top with sticks, unlike the others where you drum on the sides. This is a companion drum to the afore mentioned Dawula.
•  Udekki - A small double headed hand drum, used to accompany songs. It is mostly heard in the poetry dances (vannam).
•  Rabana - Flat faced circular drum and comes in several sizes. The large Rabana has to be placed on the floor like a circular short-legged table and several people (especially the womenfolk) can sit around it and beat on it with both hands. This is used in festivals such as the Sinhalese New Year and ceremonies such as weddings. The resounding beat of the Rabana symbolizes the joyous moods of the occasion.
The small Rabana is a form of mobile drum beat since the player carries it wherever he goes and he produces patterns of back ground drum beat for his songs.

Then, the metal percussions is almost always made up of cymbals and "Thalampata" - 2 small cymbals joined together by a string.

The wind section, is dominant by a wind instrument, something akin to the clarinet. This is not normally used for the dances. This is important because the Sinhalese dance is not set to music as the western world knows it. Here, the primary sense of rhythm, and patterns of man in motion, is the music that is beaten out by the drummer.

The flutes of metal such as silver & brass produce shrill music to accompany Kandyan Dance, while the plaintive strains of music of the reed flute may pierce the air in devil-dancing. The conch-shell (Hakgediya) is another form of a natural instrument, and the player blows it to announce the opening of ceremonies of grandeur.

Ambalama | Butterflies | Exorcism and The Occult | Kumbuk | Palm | Rice | Traditional Dance | Traditional Musical Instruments

May 31, 2007