Music under the stars

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By 2017-10-08

By Priyangwada Perera Ceylon Today Features

The moment we speak of 'remakes' there are raised eyebrows. The term has a negative connotation and most are convinced that no good will come out of it. At times conclusions are reached without even listening to the remake. With the younger generation embracing most of the remakes of old time favourites, there is the tendency to say that the 'original has being ruined.' His might be a new galaxy but how would the crowd react when they recognize the old stars? Billy Fernando has his own brand of uniquely identifiable Sri Lankan music.

Learning music from his father, Tennyson Fernando who was the original creator of the one-of-a-kind musical instrument belonging to Pandit Amaradeva, Billy Fernando has been one with music from childhood. Be it his experiment with the rabana, oriental music or upbeat catchy tunes, Fernando now celebrates 15 years of music.

"Creative music is what we give. Yes, you will get to experience a different colour in the songs you knew. We have done remakes of several songs. But how we have done it is the most important. For ten of them, we have obtained permission from the original artists. As per the change, we have used a special string section and a brass section. We also have the addition of a Pianist and Harpist mixing more colour and flare. Basically, we have rearranged all the songs with the use of new sounds," said Billy Fernando speaking to Ceylon Today. According to Fernando, there is a lot of experimenting done with the music they hope to bring out on stage with Ra Ahase. They have even chosen Indian Karnataka music to compliment the new versions of the much loved 'old songs.'

Speaking more on the concert Fernando said, even though creative music has a lot of potential, it is less prominent in Sri Lanka because not everyone is willing to change from existing music. He attributed this to the great regard and respect we have for our older artists. Fernando said in this case the songs will die with them. Since we have lesser and lesser fans from the younger generation who follow these renowned artists, Fernando's argument was that after some time the songs were likely to die with the artist. Remixing old songs is his way of preserving the song. It is only by transforming it to a type that appeals to youth that these songs can be preserved. "What was invented first was the wheel which was used on all other inventions. Music is also the same. The same cake can be iced in different ways without destroying it."

One's lack of awareness about different styles of music prevents one from appreciating different styles. "What we have is 'a nourished form of music' - Metal, Jazz, Reggae and Indian." What he promises is world standard music without harming the original. They place the existing in a new genre. While 30-35 songs are his originals, he will also be singing other people's songs. Fernando assures that except for one cover, the rest of the songs were obtained with the permission of the original artists. All the artists with the exception of one have loved his remixes. Fernando has even obliged the artist's wish to not sing his version thereafter. "If you are doing a remake, you must get written permission. The original lyricist and the musician have to be acknowledged and paid. Though the ownership is not his/her's, it is only right and ethical to inform the original singer."
Re Ahase, the concert with a new flare will feature their band 2Forty2 with Billy Fernando. It would also mark the launch of Fernando's new album. The concert features a string quartet with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka led by Lydia Goonathilake.

Celebrating '15 years of good music' the concert with a new flare will take place at the auditorium of Ave Maria Convent, Negombo on 10 November 2017.

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