Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 4 August 2013





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Digital legacy of Sinhala songs

In this week’s column, we examine the pivotal role of a Sri Lankan domiciled in Australia, Nalin Jayawardene, who is an active member of Sri Lankan cultural diaspora, plays in preserving, promoting and providing a platform of Sri Lankans in the digital legacy of the humanity.

It is pertinent here, at least briefly, to look into the prominent aspects of cultural diaspora and who its proactive role in propagating and preserving diverse cultures and cultural diaspora’s influence on cultures of origin.

Cultural diaspora

In a paper titled ‘The Diaspora Effect: The Influence of Exiles on Their Cultures of Origin’, Martin Kilduff. Kevin G. Corley says, “Swidler (1986) refers to the “toolbag”of culturally specific skills and abilities emphasised and developed within each cultural grouping. When exiles leave their home culture to join the culture of another nation, they bring with them certain aspects of the home culture as part of their approach to life.

The cultural capital can consist of values, skills, training, language, customs, life experiences and other socially learned behaviour and attitudes acquired through intense interaction with members of a specific cultural heritage. Exiles from the home culture are, in a sense, ambassadors carrying with them the culture’s toolbag of assorted attributes into new environments. As ambassadors, their endeavours are likely to be followed closely by those left behind for clues as to what changes are made to the common toolbag that cultural members carry. The successes and failures of members of the diaspora are likely to be read as providing evidence for how well a representative from one specific culture can do in a different context.”

Pervasive influence

They point out that active cultural diaspora will have a pervasive influence on their cultures of origin. Martin Kilduff. Kevin G. Corley says, “When someone leaves a culture, the ties to that culture are usually maintained. Exiles keep in touch with friends and relatives who remain, and they often create communities of the displaced to help retain their sense of attachment and identity. These visible exile communities often serve as fertile locations for the development of hybrid cultures, that is, cultures that incorporate elements from both the home and host cultures.

For example, Korean communities in the U.S. tend to form around immigrant Protestant churches which simultaneously help immigrants maintain ethnic attachment and help them adjust to a distinctly Western set of values. Exiles, as they go about their daily rounds, struggle to employ their toolbags of cultural competencies in new environments. News of these struggles, and of transformations in culture, are communicated back to the homelands through the extensive networks that immigrants tend to maintain.”

What is noteworthy in Nalin’s longstanding contribution to preservation and propagation of Sri Lankan culture principally through Sinhala songs, is that he has created a virtual Sri Lanka. It is through the platform in the virtual reality with universal accessibility that Nalin has networked Sri Lankans scattered in diverse parts of the globe and represent their lives in the form of Sinhala songs.

Music landscape

Nalin Jayawardena hails from a family which is closely associated with music landscape of the nation. In fact, his uncles were famed exponents in the field of music in Sri Lanka in the 50s and his brother was a leading singer. Although Nalin studied music under Shelma de Silva at the Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa and was a member in the Junior Choir, he did not puruse a career in music due to stiff competition and gangsterism in the field.

One of the significant contributions Nalin Jayawardena made over the years is creating a formidable corpus of digitally-preserved Sinhala songs with universal accessibility in the World Wide Web. He is also a much-needed helping hand for aspiring newcomers in the field of music not only from Sri Lanka but also from diverse parts of the globe.

In a way, Nalin’s endeavour is, really, a broad-basing the arena of Sinhala music adding Sinhala songs to the artistic digital legacy of humanity. Nalin Jayawardena is credited with becoming the first Sri Lankan singer to release an internet-based audio album for his fans around the globe to download free of charge.

The album titled Kanda Paamule was launched in 2004. Nalin has, so far, released 10 CDs, and he is in the process of making another five CDs. The website with the target audience of Sri Lankan diaspora currently contains over 100,000 Sinhalese songs available free for listening.

These songs were composed in partnership with talented Sinhala lyric writers such as Dr Vicumpriya Perera, Sunil Govinnage, Sriya Kumarasingha Bhadraji Mahinda, Daya Anada Ranasingha and Chrishanthi de Fonseka. Under the guidance and advice of Dr. Vicumpriya Perera and his musician brother Rohan Jayawardena, Nalin created a first internet-based CD launching platform which has so far launched over 35 CDs available for free downloading.

Sri Lankan musicians

Music scores for Nalin’s songs were composed by Sri Lankan musicians such as Nimal Mendis, Rohan Jayawardena, Sangeeth Wickramasingha, Ananda Widyasekara and Rukshan Karunanayaka.

Apart from songs, Nalin Jayawardena also contributed to the creation of the firstever Dhammapada Stanzas in CD Packs in partnership with Ven. Beruwela Siri Sobitha Thera Dr Gill Fronsdal, Dr Vicumpriya Perera and Janaka Wimaladharama. He also collaborated in making the charity CD/DVD in aid of the tsunami victims in Sri Lanka.

His repertoire includes Kanda Paamule (2004), Anusmarana Upahara – H R Jothipala Tribute (2004), tsunami Audio CD (2005), Cold Cold Night [Seetha Sisil Rea] – Xmas Single (2005), Paata Paata Heenayak (2008), Upahaara Sihiwatana (2009), Weli Aetayak –

Vicumpriya Perera Lyrics 02 (2009), Athithawarjanaa – Jothi Upahara Gee Pelahara (2010), Perth Gamata Paayayi Sandha (2010), Paata Paata Samanalayin (2010) Oba Soya Enem and Duru Ratawala Api (2011).

Nalin’s repertoire of songs deals with diverse themes ranging from religious themes to mundane subjects such as patriotism, national reconciliation, tsunami, diasporic issues, family and life.

One of the salient aspects of the themes of the songs is that they capture the quintessential characteristics of diasporic life where newly immigrants are in the process of constant negotiation with the cultural capital that they brought from home and try to fix them in the alien set up which produces cultural Hybridity with the influx of members of the humanity from diverse parts of the globe and from equally diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.


Donate Now |
LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL)

| News | Editorial | Finance | Features | Political | Security | Sports | Spectrum | Montage | Impact | World | Obituaries | Junior | Youth |


Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2013 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor