behind the music
By Jayashika Padmasiri Pic by Ishara
When we hear a song, most of us give credit to the vocalist, listen to
the song, to the lyrics, to the melody and say what a beautiful song
that is. But there is another person associated with the music. The
musician or the music director is also very important in a song. The
final touches, the music and the enchantment of the creation depend on
the musician. One such musician who performs wonders in the form of
creations is Ranga Dassanayake. Today he composes music for many singers
in Sri Lanka. The Nation caught up with the Dassanayake to see how he
feels about being the man behind the music.
Q-What are you doing these days?
A-“I’m working on some commercials and also producing a song for
Malith. The song is not a new experience, but it suits him well and
brings out his personality.”
Q-Did you always plan to become a musician?
A- “No. When I was small I wanted to become a doctor and studied
science subjects for my A/L’s. But music was always apart of my life.
When I was in school I got interested in the technical side of music.
When I was in grade five I was taken to the band of Isipathana Collage,
to play the side drum. I experimented with music. Today this has become
my career. I never thought of becoming a musician, but I’m happy the way
things have turned out.”
Q-Your father was also a famous musician, what kind of an influence
did he have on you?
A-“When I was a child I used to go to the studio with him. I played
the keyboard whenever I got a chance. I learned a lot, saw how people
performed, how music was made and how something beautiful can come alive
through a simple melody and some lyrics. My music is different from my
father’s. He was more to the classical side and to the cinema while mine
is more technical.”
Q-Do you plan to compose music for the cinema, in the future?
A- “Once I was offered the chance, but it needs a lot of experience.
And it is a long process which usually takes about three months. But for
me it will take more than that, almost double the time. So if someone is
willing to take that risk and give me a chance, I would be glad to do
Q-If I say, “you are the main guy behind many super stars like Iraj,
Rukshan, Malith, Ranidu, Krishan and many others”, will you agree?
A-“Well, I have helped many people. And most of the time I’m with
them to give them the much needed final touches to their songs. It is
through me that the final product has to go.”
Q-What kind of a role does music play in your life?
A-“I need music in my life very much. I can’t imagine a life without
music. It is a part of my life which is always with me. Music is life
itself to me.”
Q-What kind of music do you like to listen to?
A- “Well not very loud music like heavy metal. I like jazz a lot and
classical music too. It is the piano and strings that capture my
attention and sooth my senses. I like the singer Nora John’s a lot. I
like her complete album. It is something that you can listen to at any
time of the day.”
Q-How does it feel to be a musician?
A-“It is something very challenging. You can do and say a lot
through music. Music speaks to people and touches their souls. Music is
in a way an experiment, where you express your feelings. It gives the
idea of your life, your values and sentiments. It also reveals your
heart and touches your life.”
Q-Do you try to say something through your music?
A- “Not all the time. It is something that goes fifty, fifty. Lyrics
express the idea of lyricist. The music should be made according to the
lyrics, so sometimes it changes from song to song. But I try to retain
my identity. It could be through the music or through sentiment, but I
try to keep the same identity, while the styles might change.”
Q-What do you think of the present music industry?
A-“It is very bad. Almost 90% of the people in the field are taking
shortcuts using new technology. There is no training or practicing
today. If anyone wants to make music their career, they should know the
basics of music, have the ability to sing and be able to pitch properly.
The media has a big role in this. They should not release every song
that comes out but instead check the quality of the song and the
goodness of the music.”
Q-What do you consider as the qualities that should be in a good
A- “Lyrics, music and the voice. But if the song has a good melody,
it will survive without words and people will remember the music. A good
production is also important because the standards of the music and the
song are highlighted through the production.”
Q-What are your hobbies?
A- “I like to go out of Colombo a lot. I like to visit the upcountry
and Kandalama. I like hiking. Your brain is working all the time, when
you’re in Colombo, so at the end of the week we are exhausted and need
to get out of this city. When ever I get a chance, I go to those places
that I love.”
Q-How do you see life?
A-“Life is challenging. It is good, and occasionally life comes up
with sudden changes. But we have to face them because life is all an
adventure.” Caption- “If anyone wants to make music their career, they
should know the basics of music, have the ability to sing and be able to