Songs that peep through ears and access heart
Melody makers have come and gone. Singers have come and gone.
Lyricists have come and gone. But some songs, which should be deemed as
a creative combination, have remained for all times. Who becomes the
most signified individual in this combination has always been an enigma.
Is it the singer or the lyricist?
In the case of a song, the question of who emerges as the basic
creator may be a serious issue for a creative discourse. Some say that
this basic life-giver for a song is the lyricist. He or she has the
seminal human expression, into which other factors creep in. The melody
maker, for instance, should be able to grasp sensitively the subtleties
in the lyrical composition.
In this direction, examples could be drawn down the centuries from
the Greek or Indian theatre to the more modern times of technology. It
was the folk lyric or the folk composition that gave way to a song.
With the advent of communication technology, gramophone records came
to play a vital role. From there onwards, the recording process changed
to cassettes, and the more modern ones: compact disk (CD), digital
versatile disk (DVD) and blu-ray disk. Now the entertainment market
abounds with CDs. The discerning selector is challenged. Side by side
grew the DVD, which superseded the film reel which was hard to preserve.
All these factors propped up in mind when I listened to most CDs
produced by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation mostly songs and
sermons. The latest to come out from the precincts of SLBC is a
collection of songs where the lyrical compositions come from the well
known creator and journalist Dr Ajantha Ranasinghe. Ajantha has been in
the trade for over four decades with his contributions to both press and
radio. He too writes novels and poems. But his mainstay is the world of
lyrics where he excels. In this collection or the anthology of songs
sung by various singers and titled Ran Kenden there are 17 songs,
melodious and meaningful. The theme of love and affection blended ina
humane frame is the main recurrent expression in his lyrics. Ranasinghe
takes it in multi-colour spectrum, where he sees the sad tone of a
fisherman’s wife as she sees her husband leaving the shores to the deep
sea (Palu Pale).
The song is reminiscent of the folk ballad poem ‘Yasodharavata’,
where the persona is Siddhartha’s queen consort Yasodhara, who is not
shown as lamenting, instead expressing her happy feelings in a sad tone,
which in itself is a poetic dichotomy. One of the most pleasing songs,
where the lyric emerges as the sensitive message comes in the song
titled as ‘Dedunnen Ena Samanalune’. The melody was created by the late
Maestro Premasiri Khemadasa, for the film ‘Vasanthaye Davasak’.
The lyrical quality of the song is an expression of nostalgia, and
the bygone love. Then comes the next best song in which is lyrics is
written, once again in the form of nostalgia. The song is titled
‘Durasvannata Me Taram’ sung by Dr Dayaratne Ranatunga.
The lyrical expression is a series of inner questionings: why are we
born to this world and for what reason are we being separated? The
lyrics rest on two layers: the popular love dialogue of separation and
the other on a deeper sense of living amidst chaos.
For me, the lyrics are more metaphysical reminiscent of a poem by
Donne, where individual separation giving way to a deeper understanding
of the existence. The song titled ‘Suwanda Dane’ sung by Rukantha
Gunathilaka is yet another example of the study in the vice versa form
of the bliss of living together in a torn world of chaos. A general
reader of these lyrics or a general listener of the song may not
conceive these thoughts perhaps. But it is heartening to state that
lyrics matter for a song and proven over the years. A song sans a good
lyrical grace may tend to lower the quality.
This factor has been exhibited over a decade as I see it with the
advent of more and more technological facilities. This has gone to the
extent that the title holder called lyricist is reduced to the lowest
calibre in the order of priority. But Ranasinghe proves his calibre,
where he holds the position of the poet lurking within his creations. I
am of the view that a good lyric writer ought to be a poet. This factor
has been proved by such creators as Sri Chandraratne Manawasinghe and
Mahagama Sekara. The void created by them paved the way for rustic
lyrics. But the appearance of a few creators of the likes of Ransinghe
has resulted in a rejuvenation of the creative spirit needed for the
moment. ‘Ran Kenden’ comes as a product of the publishing unit of the
Sri lanka Broadcasting corporation in anticipation of a discourse on the
persent stance of the lyric as a creative expression.
Ranasinghe has over the years had contributed to children’s
programmes of radio channels, written a few radio operas and light songs
fro hundreds of singers. Apart from the contribution he is wanted by the
television film and theatre to enrich the musical score.