MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF SRI LANKA
Sir Christopher Ondaatje investigated the origin of the Violin and discovers it all started in Sri Lanka during the days of King Ravana[ 2554 to 2517 BC. It was knwon as Ravanhatha. It was construted of a Bamboo body and Coconut Shell Resonator covered with goat or monkey skin. A natural fibre perhaps goat or Sheep gut as strings.
Earliest evidence of music is found in our ancient Text the Mahavansa- Vijaya and his followers landed in the Island, they heard the music on the day the landed.Mahavansa Chapter VII verse 30-After Yakha Princess Kuveni made a splendid bed, well covered around with a tent and adorned with a canopy.Prince Vijeya took on to him Kuveni as his spouse and lay blissfully on that bed [Kuveni was doing thee[Vijeya] a womens service…..]. At night he heard the sound of singing and music… This was the noise of the wedding of daughter of a Yakha chief who had come from the city of Lanka..[ Mahavansa Chapter VII -Paras 22 to 31].
King Asoka daughter Sanghamitta bought along bands of Musicians and dancers along with the sacred Bo-tree in the 3 Cent BC.
The Musicians performed the five kinds of Musical Instruments called Pancha Turya- Nada. They were the atata or one faced drum, the vitata-the two faced drum, Atata Vittata- instuments in which strings are stretched across the face of tightened on pegs , like the Vina , Ghana,instruments played by striking as Cymbal, Tambourines etc –instruments and the Susira, meaning perforated hollow, refers to musical instruments as flutes and pipes.The Five type of Instruments is there after provided the Music at Royal coronations and other Royal occasions and on the days of the four religious festivals . They were also played in the battle field as morale boosting purposes.
“The noise of festival was increased by the sound of the five musical instruments which produced the illusion of the roar of the great ocean……. while the drum showed the tunderclaps of the Pajjunna” [Parakramabahu II period-Mahawansa Chapter 85 verse 42.].
“It was filled with the songs of praise of the bards who sang festive songs, making thereto on the five instruments fine music which spred aboard and charmed the hearters,..” .[Vijeyabahu IV – Mahavansa Chap 89 verse 33].
This combination is still used for peraheras and other state functions.I cannot present the facts better than those I obtained from a collections of articles from the Serendib Magazine I obtained on a flight of Air lanka ,published by Ms Florance Ratwatte and from Calenders and other article and whose authors is unfortunately unavailable. Any reader could identify them please send their names to email@example.com so that I can publish their names and give where the credit is due.
SINHAL MUSICAL NOTATIONS .
Ms S Gunasekeara has published in her book on Ola Leaf Manuscripts, she had found two books with sinhala musical notations.
Asata or one faced drum