ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 27

From table-tapping to beat of the tabla

By Ayesha Inoon

According to legend, the tabla was created by separating the pakwaj, a fourteenth century instrument, into two. The enticing beat of the tabla can express many things. It can be the soft sound of raindrops on a quiet night. A raging storm. A medley of emotions. It can enhance the meaning of song lyrics, and add to the beauty of a dancer’s performance.

“Ridma Tharanga’ Sri Lanka’s first percussion instrumental musical show by veteran tablist, Wijayarathna Ranatunga will explore the variety of sounds and melodies that can be created with this ancient instrument. “People usually know the tabla as a solo or accompaniment instrument,” says Mr. Ranatunga. He adds that he has discovered ways of recreating the sounds of other traditional instruments such as the thammattama, rabana and getabera with the tabla.

The concert will feature performances by artistes such as Sanath Nandasiri, Sunil Edirisinghe and Edward Jayakody.

A duet by Mr. Ranatunga’s wife and daughter, Nirmala and Sewwandi Ranatunga with their popular song, ‘sinaha mal godak’ is also part of the programme. Other performances include ‘Rain’, a combined piece featuring the tabla, violin and guitar, solo performances by Mr. Ranatunga’s students and ‘Eda saha Ada’ a representation of the atmosphere in Sri Lanka in the past and present, through tabla music.

His love of music began he remmbers when, as a child, he would drum on the table in accompaniment to the songs his father would sing. Having started playing the tabla at the age of 12, Wijayarathna Ranatunga found that he had a gift for playing tunes by ear on the instrument.

He went on to follow a course in vocal studies and tabla at the then Government College of Fine Arts. Today, his skill as a tablist has taken him around the world on many impressive performances, as well as two performances in the island. In 1999 he published a book on the use of the tabla as an instrument in Sri Lanka.

“To play the tabla gives me great self satisfaction,” he says, adding that his purpose is only to serve his country with his expertise. Most of the students of tabla music in Sri Lanka are his pupils, he says, and there is no greater joy for him than that.

The concert is to be held at 6:30 pm on December 10 at the Elphinstone Theatre, Colombo. The Chief Guest will be Professor Sarath Amunugama.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.