Dinesh Subasinghe in bid to rewrite history strikes:
The melancholic tone breathed out by stroking the finely tuned
strings with the bow, resonated a sense of loss, sorrow and desperation.
It traversed through the valleys of history, centuries back in time and
finally mingled with the chord of sorrow, repentance and desperation
played on the instrument by its original player; the King Ravana.
The young and vibrant musician ridden with anxiety pledges to
undertake such a journey to excavate the buried 'roots' of music and its
history. "The primary version of the violin which the West boasts of to
be their creation was first played by Orients.
Dee R Cee members
The first ever reference made to a music instrument is found in the
Ramayana. The centuries old epic says King Ravana played a stringed
instrument called Ravanahatha, similar to the violin," he says.
Dinesh Subasinghe, an artiste who looks forward to carve a unique
niche with his talent in the local and international music arena, claims
that history has to be rewritten. Sri Lankan music has to assert its
identity in the global context and it should begin by correcting
history, says the promising musician.
Subasinghe has emerged a player of enormous potential as he has
proven his talents in music direction, composition and a performer of
many instruments. However, above all he strongly believes that we can
strike a different chord in the music arena with oriental instruments
like Ravanahatha and Kingiri which have not yet been accepted and
"These instruments are used only to play folk tunes. But the music
generated by these instruments reflects the emotions and features of the
orient. Thus, it is an excellent medium to promote our music,"
Ravanahatha and kingiri made out of coconut, bamboo and goatskin,
trace their origin from the East. The great epic Mahabharatha says the
wife of a demon gifted the kingiri to Bhim, one of the Pandavas for
saving her life and by playing the instrument, they invoked nature and
natural elements, the artiste said.
Dinesh Subasinghe playing the ancient instrument Ravanahatha.
"A similar instrument to ravanahatha and kingiri, known as kamaicha
was played by Egyptians and in North India Rawanahatha is played by
gypsies. I am highly interested in tracing the relation of this and
finding proof to assert our identity in the history of music," the
enthusiastic musician revealed his passion to explore.
Having excelled in all genres of music from classical to baila to
rap, Subasinghe does not discriminate. While leading the latest creation
of Maestro Premasiri Khemadasa's 'Agni' opera, he composes for
teledramas and movies. "I have composed music for 19 teledramas, 'Siri
Siri Mal' and 'Shobha' being on the top of the list." His music
composition for teledrama began with Hummanaya.
Subasinghe has undertaken music composition for Channa Perera's new
movie too. He will soon release a CD of instrumental music, based on
rawanahatha and kingiri. His first media performance came in 2003 with
the Dee R Cee Members, a popular youth band led by him. Monalisa was the
first hit of the Dee R Cee Members.
He was born and brought up in a family with musical background. His
father was in the Sri Lanka Navy Band.
His younger brother taught him to play the violin. He honed his
talents being in the church choir and his school St. Peters' College
bundled up many opportunities for him to excel in singing and composing.
Meeting veteran musician Stanley Peiris opened golden gates for
Subasinghe as he introduced the talented youth to professional
orchestra. Later Ananda Dabare and Hasini Halpe put him in the symphony
After he joined Khemadasa, for seven years he has been playing for
every composition of the maestro. However, the young artiste who has
reached many heights in a short period says he will not rest on his
laurels. "Still I have not got satisfactory feedback for my talents.
It is the common phenomena in Sri Lanka today when the music field is
controlled by a few. Musicians own no place in this situation. They will
promote what sells and not what people demand," he said.
All music genres should be promoted and treated equally. Though the
country possesses so much talent, it is not represented in the correct
way. If only one or two types are highlighted that will cause the
downfall of our music. Unity and harmony is important to walk a long
way, the artiste explained.
"When Sri Lankan players perform abroad, the audience is filled with
Sri Lankans. But if A.R. Rahuman or another reputed personality performs
people of various nationalities throng the venue.
Why such a difference? Do we lack universal appeal in our music? If
we are to reach that level we need to present something unique and we
have to assure quality in our performance," Subasinghe concluded.