Importance of music to cinema
plays a pivotal role in cinema. From the early days of cinema music has
been used to supplement or as an augment to give a third dimension to
motion picture. The filmmakers commenced to experiment with the
potentials of music earlier on.
Early films like Rene Clair's Entre actre (1924) Fernand Leger's
Ballet Mecanique (1924-25) and even abstract or "avant-garde" films
seemed to have depended on the musical theory for much of their visual
effects. It has been recorded that filmmaker began to work with
musicians even before sound was added to films. For instance, Hans
Richter's vormittagesspuk (Ghost Before Breakfast, 1928) had a music
score which was played live by Hindemith. It should be mentioned here
that Walter Ruttmann's Berlin-Symphony of a City (1927) even had a live
Soon music has become an integral part of film experience; live
performed music was added to silence films. Even the film makers of the
silence period had discovered the musical potentials of the image. For
instance, Sergei Eisenstein constructed an elaborate music score for his
film Alexander Nevsky to correlate the visual images with the music
score. Music for the film was made by famous composer Prokofiev. In the
film like Stanley Kubrick's 2001; A Space Odyssey, music often leads the
Although international cinema has exploited the subtle but defining
effects of music on visual images, it has, unfortunately, been not
exploited by Sri Lankan filmmakers.
The early phase of Sri Lankan film music in Sri Lanka was marked by
overarching influence of Indian Music. In fact, Sri Lankan film music
was grown under the shadow of Indian film music. Ramaya Muttusamy
(1926-1988) who composed music scores for over 200 films can be
considered as the pioneer in the Sri Lankan film music. Muttusamy
composed music for K.
Gunaratnam's productions. He influenced subsequent film music
composers like Pundit W. D. Ameradeva and Maestro Premasiri Khemadasa.
It is odd if a film music composer of 1950's had not been influenced by
R. Muttusamy's music.
His music was highly influenced by Indian film music. Therefore, the
music scores composed by Muttusamy were more Indian with little or no
motifs of Sri Lankan music. However, Pundit W. D. Ameradeva's entry into
the arena of Sri Lankan film music marked a watershed in the evolution
of Sri Lankan film music with Ran Muthu Duwa in 1962. For the first
time, Ameradeva created distinctly non- Indian music for films. These
film music scores were distinctly Sri Lankan in character and captured
the rhythm of the soil.
Ameradeva salvaged Sri Lankan film music from the influence of the
Indian film music.
Dr. Lester James Peries's Gamperaliya, for which Pundit Ameradeva
made music, was also an important film that marked an important period
in the evolution of Sri Lankan film music. He also composed music for
large number of films including, Gatavarayo (1964), Delovak Atara
(1965), Ransalu (1967) and Sakman Maluwa (2003).
Dr. Lester James Peiris's discovery of Premasiri Khemadasa as
composer for his film Golu Hadawatha, in actual terms, had
revolutionised Sri Lankan Film Music. Dr. Premasiri Khemadasa is
considered as the most influential film music composer in Sri Lanka. His
larger than life shadow, it seems, has a permanently cast on, in the
arena of film music in Sri Lanka. Departing from the tradition of just
laying down music for films, he made music an integral part of the work.
It is no exaggeration that success of films such as Gamperaliya,
Nidhanaya (1972) at international audience, partly, was partly due to
incomparable organic music scores by maestro Premasiri Khemadasa.
Khemadasa's signature in Sri Lankan film music is marked by his
combination of Western Classical music and elements of music from folk
and other traditional sources. Though he composed music, for the first
time, for Sirisena Wimalaweera's Roddie Kella, it was Golu Hadawatha and
Nidhanaya which sealed his fame as film music composer. He was greatly
influenced by Western Composer of Opera such as Giuseppe Verdi and
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Sarah Fernando who composed music for films such as Maha Gedara
(1982), Adara Kathava (1985) and Udu Gan Yamaya (2006), is also a gifted
musician who could have made a contribution to film music. Nimal Mendis
is also belonged to this category of film music composers. The Present
generation of film music composers like Rohana Weerasinghe, Nawarathne
Gamage, and Pradeep Ratnayake have also contributed in their own ways to
the growth of distinctly Sri Lankan tradition of film music.
Composers like Lakshman Joseph De Saram, Harsha Makalanda have very
little space for creativity in the arena of Sri Lankan film music.
One of the reasons that hamper the growth of distinctly Sri Lankan
tradition of film music is the lack of films which demands higher
quality film music.
However, new generation of film makers like Prasanna Vithanage,
Ashoka Handagama, Vimukthi Jayasundara and Boodee Keerthisena, have made
a new dimension in Sri Lankan film music. The predominant characteristic
of these films is that they demand music scores which are not confined
to songs or few here and there laid music scores merely intended to
intensify emotions of some scenes but be an integral part of the work.
The future of Sri Lankan film music lies in the filmmaker's ability to
exploit intrinsic property of music to correlate to visual images rather
than haphazard laying of music or confining music to few songs in the
films. It is imperative that film music score should be an important
character of the film like the last music score of Akasa Kusum. The
music for the film was composed by Lakshman Joseph De Saram.