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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

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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 Side by side grew the DVD, which superseded the film reel which was hard to preserve.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.

 

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