ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 04
TV Times
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‘Pahan Ridma’: Choral music on CD

From early days, Christians in Sri Lanka had developed a close affinity to a distinct tradition of religious choral music in their worship. When Latin was the official language of Liturgy, there were some leading musicians and liturgists who put into vernacular some of the touching tunes used in liturgical services in Europe. Those tunes are still haunting in the ears of the elders in the Catholic community. Some of them are still sung in the churches today whereas others seems have disappeared completely.

Fr. Edmund Tillekeratne has painstakingly done a musical arrangement with those melodies to bring mind to tranquility with a religious colouring. Has he been successful in doing that? Well, I must say the type of musical arrangements done by him, appeals to a certain category only, as any tradition of musical thought would do. Anyhow he has preserved the devotional flavour in the musical arrangement.

Fr. Edmund Tillekeratne

The CD 'Pahan Ridma' includes sixteen tunes. Most of those tunes are found in the very early hymnal called 'Gee Kalamba' printed at Maggona press by Franciscan Brothers. The collection represents several stages in the history of the Sinhala Catholic hymn. There are some hymns in this CD, whose melodies are of Western origin. 'Ma Premavu' 'Divya Hardayeni', 'Divya’, Jesu Me Tama',' Samadanayehi Rajaniya' , 'Divya Sri Pupeni', 'Santana Meniyane', 'Supul Sara', 'Paralkce Mannaveni' and 'Vewa Mama Mathata'.

Also the CD comprises of some well-known compositions of Fr. Mercelline Jayakody 'Nelum Pipila', 'Penibara Vanamal', 'Jesu Rajaneni' and 'Sapiri Sema'. There are some hymns whose composers are not indicated such as 'Padua Nagaraye'. 'Minisiyave' is one of the hymn tunes composed by Fr. Tillekeratne himself in recent time and another composition by M. G. Sugathadasa- 'Mal Kekulak See' and the lyricist and the composer are not known for the song 'Ma Pawin Midi'.
Fr. Tillekeratne has made use of several instruments to bring out the soothing effect. The CD as a whole is a meditative journey. Listening this brings mind to tranquility and it could be used to heal traumatic mind, to bring out the mind from a traumatic experience. This instrumental CD has a healing effect and tranquilizing effect to a greater extent, not undermining the musical flavour it possess.


In Sri Lanka, listening to instrumental or vocal music, without words has not yet taken its roots. In the west, there are still many more classical music lovers who listen to instrumental music. In the east, especially in India, ragas are played for hours and there are those who love to listen. Yet, Fr. Tillekeratne has courageously endeavoured to bring an instrumental CD with Western and Eastern flavor.

Fr. Tillekeratne seems to have used the modem technology in the production. This is clear by the use of different tones of violins and other instruments used throughout the CD.

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