Publication Date

5-2013

Advisor(s)

Mark Slobin

Department

Music

Language

English

Abstract

Music for the Majority investigates the lives and thought of Sinhalese lyricists, vocalists, and composers employed at the Sri Lankan radio station, Radio Ceylon, and the sarala gī or light classical musical genre they fashioned on the brink and aftermath of the “cultural revolution” of 1956. I explore how these men’s songs coincided with the first postindependence election of South Asia to transfer the locus of political power to the majority, and precipitate a switchover in the official state language, from English to Sinhala. These lyricists, vocalists, and composers were members of the rural intelligentsia, the constituency that spearheaded the cultural revival that ensued. They worked to represent the majority population, assert the value of Sinhalese culture, and raised the standards of Sinhalese music. In this study, I explore the local and transnational forces that motivated their aspirations and analyze how they used music and language in song to achieve their objectives.

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