The First Buddhist Cantata in the World; Piriniwanmangallaya (The Death of the Lord Buddha), A New Approach to Modern Music in Sri Lanka

Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Modern Approach in Humanities.

Year: 2018 | Page No:122-132


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The First Buddhist Cantata in the World; Piriniwanmangallaya(The Death of the Lord Buddha),A New Approach to Modern Music in Sri Lanka




The western musical tradition has been applied into variety of indigenous music genres covering various themes. Some of them tend to imitate the original western music form while others are accosted with the indigenous musical tradition.Considerable numbers of Sri Lankan music lovers are showing greater enthusiasm about western music and composers are especially interested in adopting western musical styles to local musical productions. Cantata is a newly introduce musical form to the Sri Lankan music context where the awareness about it, is limited to some local western musicians and few oriental musicians. Generally Cantata is a form of western music which has its own unique musical structure.Detailed study about musical structure of western Cantata will facilitate the Sri Lankan musicians to have a better understanding about Cantata form and how such musical form could be used in local compositions.
The main objective of this research is to identify the original elements of a Cantata form and the influence of western Cantata style on contemporary and modern music traditions of Sri Lanka.Premasiri Kemadasa, a Sri Lankan modern music composer has composed Piriniwanmangallaya (Death of the Lord Buddha) with the use of western, oriental and Sri Lankan Folk music influences and named it as the ‘first Buddhist Cantata’ in the world. (Usually, Cantata is associated with Christian religion).This is a notable instance where the local musicians have attempted to incorporate Cantata form into Sri Lankan contemporary music.Singing Sri Lankan folk melodies according to western style has resulted in a strange impression and has created a certain amount of disharmony to the theme of the play. Furthermore, the way in which ordinary people perceive the death of the Buddha, especially grief associated with it has not been adequately expressed, perhaps due to the use of six voice ranges as in the western Cantata form.This is a qualitative research that describes the specific situations in detail using research strategies/tools such as literature surveys, interviews and discussions etc. Both primary and secondary sources were used in order to obtain data as well.

Keywords: Cantata, World First Buddhist Cantata (Piriniwanmangallaya), Premasiri Kemadasa, Sri Lankan folk music, Modern Sri Lankan Music, Influence of Western Music.