Music and mathematics
Exporting folk music through e-mail
By Lenin Amarawickrama
Sanjeewa Hemantha Brenly Paranamana is a man with two interests, music and mathematics, which has helped him in an innovative venture that exports folk music or traditional Sri Lankan country music via e-mail. He does not have a recording studio but instead works from his home using synthesisers to make instrumental compositions based on traditional country music.

Hailing from Tangalle, 30-year-old Paranamana learned music from his mother who was a music teacher. An old boy of Tangalle Maha Vidyalaya and Richmond College he played music by ear at the beginning and later was taught by maestro Gunadasa Kapuge, Victor Perera and Nimal Jayakody.

For his Advanced Level examination he did mathematics, which helped him to develop the technical skills necessary to make electronic compositions of folk music and export it via e-mail using "midi" files - a technique used to transform music to an electronic message.

This is what he does for a living today. Paranamana had previously been a member of a band which played Western music at weddings and hotels. Today, the compositions he sends abroad give foreigners a taste of traditional Sri Lankan folk music.

He caters to a specialised audience, mostly classical music lovers. "I am not very interested in combining lyrics to music. What I like is producing music" Paranamana says.

After coming up with the innovative idea, he went to meet the officials of the Export Development Board which helped him to establish a folk music web site at a very nominal fee. He waited for four months before he got his first response - from Singapore.

"An international music teaching body was organizing a conference in Singapore and they picked up the message in the web site and inquired from me, and that was the beginning." He did not have a computer at that time and the EDB provided him with e-mail support for the initial communications with the Singapore client.

Paranamana recently addressed the EDB's silver jubilee celebrations and was presented as an example of a successful entrepreneur. Now after two years of effort Paranamana exports Sri Lankan electronic folk music to Singapore, United States, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, and Afghanistan. "The Singaporeans who picked up my message did the rest by word of mouth." So far he has exported the electronic versions of "Sri Namaya" and some "Nelum Geetha."

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