Just as the classical dances, traditional music also is an important
part of Sri Lanka's vibrant and colorful culture. Along with
classical dances, drums are also used from ancient times. Sri Lankan
Drum tradition is believed to go as far back as 2500 years.
Originally drums were used for pleasure and then for the rituals.
The vibrant beat of the rhythm of the drums form the basic of the
It is believed that there are about 30 traditional drums.
Some of the drums that are used in music in Sri Lanka are Gata Bera,
Thammatama, Yak Bera, Udakkiya, Hand Rabana, Daula, Bench Rabana.
Drums are used in religious ceremonies and local festivals.
In major events like the
Peraheras (pageants) of Sri Lanka are
comprised of the sounds of Drums. Farmers use many varieties of
drums (Uddakki, Bummadi to name a few) when harvesting crops. Even
in the rituals in Sri Lankan Folklore – Pirith chanting and Thowil
(exorcism) drums were involved.
There are three types of drums:
- one faced
- two faced
- flat faced
There are six basics drums:
Essentially used in Kandyan dance.
This is the demon drum or the drum used in low country
dance in which the dancers wear masks and perform devil dancing.
It is a barrel shaped drum, and it was used as a
companion drum in the past, to keep strict time with the beat.
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 Dawula.
A small double headed hand drum, used to accompany songs.
It is mostly heard in the poetry dances (Vannam).
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 women) 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.