Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 22 April 2012





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Striding towards singing their own words

Pop music and popular culture can be at times definable from the responses it gets from the market place and how it is appreciated in numbers. The development of technology that allows synchronisation of tunes and melodies can now readily present avenues for aspiring musicians to experiment with music and vocals and develop material which is finally tested for its audience reception, out there in the present day mediatised world of TV radio and now web based mass communication. Although many Sinhala pop bands arrive on the scene regularly seldom do we find local bands that sing in English, develop their own original English medium tracks.

The first five

The focus of this article is about the content of a six -man performing band named Black who have released their first CD containing five tracks titled 'The First Five...'. As a band that would essentially plays covers as many others that cater to the market Black has ventured into producing a collection of their own. Yet what seems curious is how most of the content, four of the five tracks are Sinhala medium whereas the exterior and the language medium used for the cover suggests the targeted audience being an English speaking one.

The songs themselves are very clearly intended for a popular market keeping to simple, uncomplicated lyrics and ideas. The beats and tunes are somewhat conventional and carry a familiarity of songs that speak mostly to an urbanised audience that appreciates a touch of Anglophile threading to the Sinhala vocals.

A faint shade of Chithral Somapala comes to mind, though his works carry a rock music likeness whereas Ranil, Kavinda, Chamal, Ashan, Indika and Namal have produced a collection that is more inclined towards a local urbanised pop style.

Papare music

The first of the five 'Pap-pap-pare' is clearly based on the conceptual aspect of the urban 'papapre' band music that gained popularity through Sri Lanka's big match culture. The origins of papare band music goes to South India I was once told by a friend of mine, Indrajith Wewalage a Fine Arts graduate from the former Visual and Performing Arts Faculty of the Kelaniya University which is now the University of the Visual and Performing Arts.

The music we know today as papare was the music of a community called 'Sakkali' who had been a much oppressed people who had developed this music style for religious rituals in worship of their gods.

What is strikingly noticeable about the track papare by Black is that there is no clear tones of the papare style but a more conceptual side of appreciating what papare is to the present day Sri Lankans who will very likely feel it is a rallying call to make merry as is the case at occasions when paper music marks its presence.

The other four

The other tracks of the collection are -Singhavanshaye, Nimak Nethi Adare, Sandakdo and Vishishtayek. The song Vishishtayek seems to sing out a celebration of what one may view as self-worth. A sentiment as that would suggest a strong sense of individualism as being the basis for one to feel the courage to assert his beliefs. To any person his own self confidence becomes a driving factor. And he becomes the assessor of his own strides.

What seemed a rather curiosity generating factor from the lyrical content of the track was if the impetus for the work 'Singhavanshaye' was a sentiment of nationalism given the present day climates. The song is certainly not a call to arms lest anyone was to misread the perspective taken on the matter, but a very enthused statement based singing out of being of the 'Singhavanshaya' or 'Lion's race'.

What manner of sentiments does this track speak to? One may conjecture yet that would be a line of discussion that strays towards needless debate. It is probably a celebration of stating a lion like maleness that comes out very markedly in Chitral Somapala's well known song that starts off Nadee ganga tharanaye (Crossing rivers and streams) as a Sinhala version of the song 'Many rivers to cross' made popular by the band UB40.

What could come later on?

Black as a performing band has taken a step towards developing their own works as musicians and lyricists, which one must note is not a development that all purveyors of performance can claim to their name.

Perhaps in the future newer strides towards entertaining an English music oriented Sri Lanka audience could also be expected from the six -man line up who clearly seem to believe that their talents are meant to produce something of their own and not to be entirely for the purpose performing works of others because the crowd simply can't get a live show of the original artist.



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