Piyasara Shilpadhipathi, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Performing Arts, Colombo, and a brilliant exponent of Sri Lankan traditional drum and dance music, has directed all three albums while his wife Chandrakanthi Shilpadhipathi, a talented dancer and a folk singer, has contributed to vocals.
The beats mixed with traditional folk music make for a delightful combination that takes us back to an era when nature and nature's beauty were both honoured and appreciated.
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Rhythms of Sri Lankan Drums & Folk Songs
This album introduces a variety of drums (Bera=drums) used in Sri Lanka -both low country and upcountry- and presents traditional folk songs sung at various occasions and fields of work.
Tradition of drums in Sri Lanka is believed to go as far back as 2,500 years. Piyasara Shilpadhipathi explains the use of these drums, demonstrating drumming techniques and some Sri Lankan dancing.
Sri Lanka folk songs, called “Kavi”, originated as a way to pass time for the individual groups as they engaged in their work. In olden days Sinhala villagers when they toiled in the paddy field, worked in plumbago mines, rowed boats, drove bullock carts, had a sweet song on their lips. There are also the lullabies used in inducing children to sleep. Kavi also accompany folk rituals.
18 Vannams - Sri Lankan Traditional Music - Part 1 & Part 2
The Vannams belong to the Kandyan dancing tradition and are thought to have originated as songs composed in Kavikara Maduwa (a dance arena) in the reign of the 18th century Monarch of Kandy, Sri Veera Parakrama Narendrasinha. Some believe Vannams were composed by a Sage named Ganithalankara of Nagapattinam in South India and brought down to Sri Lanka by offerings Royal tribute.
The word "vannam" comes from the Sinhala word "varnana" (descriptive praise). The Vannams were inspired by nature, history, religion and folk lore, and each is composed and interpreted in the mood or expression based on its theme.
The eighteen classical Wannams are:-
(1) Gajaga (elephant)
(2) Thuranga (horse)
(3) Mayura (peacock)
(4) Gahaka (conch shell)
(5) Uranga (reptile)
(6) Musaladi (hare)
(7) Ukusa (hawk)
(8) Vairodi (precious stone)
(9) Hanuma (monkey)
(10) Savula (cock)
(11) Sinharaja (lion king)
(12) Naiyadi (cobra)
(13) Kirala (lapwing)
(14) Eeradi (arrow)
(15) Surapathi (in praise of the Goddess Surapathi)
(16) Ganapathi (in praise of the God Ganesha)
(17) Udara (expressing the pomp and majesty of the king)
(18) Asadrusa (extolling the merits of the Buddha)
The Vannams were first only limited to recitations, but later choreographers created dances around them.
Kanthi Shilpadhipathi, a dancer and folk singer rated as a Super-grade Artist by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and a graduate of the University of Kelaniya, presents the recitals of Vannams with the direction of her husband, Piyasara Shilpadhipathi who is a brilliant exponent of Sri Lankan drum music.
It should be noted that some Vannams presented in this series feature rarely used Adawwas (rhythmic body and foot movements that come as a finale).