Shihan de Silva (University of London, UK)
This paper contextualises the composition of Chorus Baila, the postcolonial genre of music and song that swept the nation off its feet. By considering the life of the composer, Mervin Ollington Bastianz, a Sri Lankan policeman whose poetry and music united a multiethnic nation in a musical miscellany. The origins of Chorus Baila are interrogated through the life, musical experiences and creativities of its composer. The word Baila conveys a Portuguese link and this paper argues that the genre is not a carryover from the colonial past but an innovation that evolved at a historical moment, the island’s independence, after four and a half centuries of colonial rule. Other genres that influenced the composition of baila will be discussed in theorising on the diversity engulfed by this postcolonial genre which transcends ethnic, religious and age barriers.