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Government Gazette

In Tune

with Chamikara WEERASINGHE

The difference between the Gypsies and other local bands is that the latter stands out to personify popular music in Sri Lanka. The band, while being professional presenters, has shaped a style of their own in Sinhala pop, a significant feature of Gypsies’ music that is surprisingly unspoken of by many.

The Gypsies, originally a Western band, has been in the local music scene for over three and a half decades during which they have released over 100 singles.

Sunil Perera and the Gypsies released Dance with the Gypsies LPs in 1970. Kurumitto (The smurf song) audio cassette album in 1980. With the arrival of CDs to Sri Lanka, they released Gypsies Gold with 17 songs.

The Gypsies have made more hits than any other band, among them I Don’t Know Why, Signyore, Piti Kotapan None, Lankawe Ape Lankawe, Ojaye, This Land Belongs to You, Uncle Johnson, Kurumitto and Lunu Dehi to name a few.

They have been performing sold out concerts in Sri Lanka, India , Canada, UK, US and Australia, making record sales in Sri Lanka. The original line up Gypsies are Sunil Perera on vocals and guitar, Piyal Perera on vocals, Niresh Perera on drums, Kumar Peiris on keyboards, Derek Hepponstall on bass, Ranil Vaas and Dushan on keyboards.

The band has a good rapport with fans of all age groups. They became favourites of children with hits like Kurumitto and Lunu Dehi, and now they seem to be enjoying good rapport with those children who have turned adults after so many years now.

Gypsies introduced sarcasm and humour into some of their songs humiliating politicians at a time some senior singers have climbed political platforms to sing for their favourite party or politician.

The songs like Signyore and I Don’t Know Why (Ayi) were embraced by the public so much so that they became most requested songs on TV and radio channels.

It would seem very unfair by Gypsies if one was to look at them from a commercials standpoint disregarding their role as musicians and all the hard work that went behind the curtain, with Gypsies’ leader and guitarist-singer Sunil Perera’s brain and directions to back the process.

the Gypsies

It has to be mentioned that Gypsies underwent perhaps more difficulties than any other contemporary local band with it’s leader’s revolutionary approach to music as a young musician in the s with fresh seeds in his brains wit a lot of youth attached to it.

Their music had been under fire not only by critics but also by other senior artistes who have by then made their names bigger than themselves.

Criticism galore from many oriental and semi oriental quarters attacking young artistes of the Gypsies, branding them as a threat to the country’s social and cultural fabric.

And they were firing at the youngsters with all cylinders for the lyrical content of a song called, Mama Dunne Kiss Ekai.

Had the senior artistes discussed the matter with the boys and given them friendly advice, instead of trying to destroy them with worst possible attacks through media and in public, things would have settled more easily on a pleasant note.

The point is, there are thousands of songs which are ten thousand times disgusting than Mama Dunne Kiss Ekai, And of them worst types are found in oriental quarters, but there is no body to criticize them these days.

The upcoming bands and singers today do not have to face such challenges. When I asked Sunil Perera last week about what were the aspects he regard as more important in composing a song, he has this to say:

“I stick to our brand of style and make sure that lyrics are simple and easily understood by people . And also make sure that message of the song is enhanced by the music and it is understood.”

* Don’t you want to change gears with hip hop?

I do not dig hip hop because there are lot of artistes who come to the field wanting to do that. Gypsies have their own brand of style.

It keeps us distinct from others. That is why we are on the demand.

* Any other reasons?

We are a versatile band apart from our music, if someone wants us to go with 100 per cent Western , English we can do that. If they want a mixture of both we can do that too.

* Do you have any advice to offer to those trying to come as singers or musicians to the field?

If you want to become popular try in quick time , try to follow a style other than hip hop, because the competition is too high for hip hop with hundreds of people trying to perform in that style.

* Supposing that you want to compose a song what would be your target audience?

Middle age groups perhaps since they are better acquainted with our music.

* Why do your songs seem to sell no sooner than they are released to the market?

Because I know what the market is, And we produce our singles accordingly. And it is a gift to be able to do that on a regular basis the way we do.


Suriyakumar on music:

Frequently asked Questions

Confused about music? You don’t have to be, because you will soon be rescued from the land of confusion to face music with better understanding by music authority, keyboard wizard, music teacher and former Music Administrator to Maldives Academy of Performing Arts, Suriyakumar Veerasingham. Suriyakumar has prepared this article to answer frequently asked questions about music.

He is presently teaching music for Sri Lankan students at his Evergreen Park residence at Narahenpita. This article is published with his permission.

Q) What is the definition of music ?

Music is an expression

It uses a system of notes and patterns within the realm of organized sound.

Q) What is organized sound.?

Organized sound contains identifiable patterns. Language and music are examples of organized sound. Noise is disorganized sound.

Q) Are there different styles of music ?

Yes. The styles of music differ from country to country. The most predominant Styles are Western, Eastern, Arabic and other indigenous styles.

What are the styles commonly used in the Maldives.

They are western and Hindi styles of music.

Q) What style does Dhivehi music use.

The style most commonly used is based on western notation.The music is a blend of western and Indian music. There are musicians who use the oriental style as well.

Q) Are there musical people and non musical people.

Yes. Musical people are more responsive to sound and music. Not everybody can play or sing properly. It is a matter of aptitude......

Some people are more talented than others.

How do you recognize musical aptitude.

By suitable tests including ear tests.

Q) What is an ear test.

An ear test is an application to determine the level of aural musical perception.

Q) What is a musical composition

Composition is the interaction of original patterns and musical notes

Q) How do I recognize and choose a good composition.

By enhancing your Listening and musical perception. Then you will be able to differentiate and appreciate the nuances.

Q) What is programmed music

It is the use of computer memory and copy application technology. Small “bits” of sound can be entered into the computer program one after the other and can be programmed to be retrieved together at will. A lot of effects and other enhancements can be added.

Q) Is there a difference between a talented child and a gifted child.

Yes there is. A talented child will respond to musical notes and patterns much faster than others. Talent means more than average levels of perception. A gifted child will respond even faster. Gifted supersedes talent. Both are inherent and inborn. You cannot learn to be talented or gifted.

Natural Talent is a pre-disposition in the mind and the body, to do the right thing. When a person who has natural talent for singing hears someone sing, their body and mind “know” what the person is doing to get that sound.

And their body/mind knows how to do it too, or how to begin moving in that direction. (They don’t have to know this consciously, that is “know what they know, and how they know it, they just know). Some people come in for lessons, and they “tend” to do everything right, from sitting comfortably with the instrument, to positioning and using the fingers. Some people do everything wrong, and must be shown, painstakingly and minutely, exactly what to do”.

Q) Do I let the parents interfere and tell me what to do

This problem occurs very frequently when the teacher is unsure of a given situation. Parents start interfering when they sense that a teacher is indecisive. A teacher who is knowledgeable in music education will deal firmly and politely with the situation.

Q) What is the most important aspect of teaching music.

It is the teaching of fundamentals and making sure the pupils have fun learning and retaining it.

Q)What are the fundamentals.

The fundamentals are Pitch, melody and Rhythm

Q) What is pitch

Pitch is the plane of a system chosen to play a given piece of music. It is the frequency of choice on which a song is based. It is commonly called the key. usic has a system of patterns and notes. The system of notes is called a scale. To be Continued...


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service

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