The ‘Kaffiringha’ rhythm
by Kainga Weeraokody
The ‘Kaffiringha’ rhythm was provided by a set of string instruments (banjo, ukulele, violin, mandolin etc. accompanied by percussion).
Local artistes were able to reproduce that rhythm, and as the years passed they modified the ‘Kaffiringha’ rhythm by using modern instruments such as box guitars, electric guitars accompanied by the drums, cymbals etc.
In the forties and fifties Radio Ceylon (then) had a half hour programme for ‘Kaffiringha’ music every Sunday from 12.15 p.m. to 21.45 p.m. and fans impatiently waited for it in the midst of their Sunday relaxation.
It was the maestro Norbert Rodrigo who originated that programme and together with the other maestro Louise Zeiglar took the weekly programme alternately. They didn’t have any vocalists as the programmes were strictly musical.
However, it was Wally Bastians, a policeman who introduced vocalists to the baila scene for the first time.
Bastian entertained his colleagues at their the department at its functions in the department.
After his death on January 14, 1985 M. S. Fernando became the leading singer of baila.
Thereafter many others sang Bastian’s original compositions thus depriving been of due credit.
Gajasinghe Arachchilage Olinton Bastians was born on June 10 in 1914, in Galle.
From his younger days he used to sing baila on stage.
As a musician player he played the box guitar, violin, mandolin, banjo, piano, uknlele and other instruments.
He served at the Kotahena police station as a sergeant and counted 27 years of service in the department.
His promotions to the rank of sergeant was due to his musical career.
Among his original compositions were ‘Babi Achchige Bicycle’, ‘Nurse Nona’, ‘Wadakaha, Sudiya, ‘Malu Malu’, ‘Colombo Aya’, ‘Irin Josephine Roselin’, ‘Yaman Bando Wesak Ballanna’ Angalin etc...
He song in live baila competitions with his contemporaries such as Rajagiriye Marshal, Welikada Sangeethe, Kawdane Eedin, Kapiri Mathew.
He was married to Florie Mercy Silva and had five children.
By his second marriage to Josephine he had five other children.
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