Combining Science & Music Together
Interview with Charitha Attalage by G. Gokulan
A composer with a mindset of a scientist; he creates his innovative twist on music through a sense of science. Composing with different music technologies is his passion. Charitha Attalage takes composing to a whole new level through a novel outlook on music.
Q: Tell us a little bit about you and your profession.
A: My name is Charitha Rakshitha Attalage and I am a French born Sri Lankan citizen. I currently reside in Los Angeles completing my studies in Music Technology. I have been fortunate enough to travel the world's most famous music hubs to witness different forms of art.
Q: Why do you think music is so important to us?
A: That's a tough question to answer. It is because the musical human expression itself is a mystery: unpredictable and complicated. We are probably the only species in the entire galaxy creating and enjoying films, songs, dance, paintings and all the other sorts of art forms. Chimps cannot do that. Arts are our culture and identity as Homo sapiens. The Voyager Golden Record is now 10 billion miles away from us still zipping away with the hope that it would reach an advanced civilization. It's record has a few languages, pictures, sounds and music, because that's what could indicate who we are! That's our identity! Music is mathematical, yet divine.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your "Sandawathiye" song?
A: Sandawathiye was created just after completing my high school studies. The tune came in to play after seeing the lyrics written by Nandana Wickramage. I am ever grateful for the opportunity given by him! However the song got tucked away as I got busy making music for commercials. However, I finally produced a song for Ridma Weerawardane.
Q: What is your music style?
A: I don't think that way! I treat music with a sense of science. Music is essentially an infinite number of combinations and permutations of different frequencies and rhythm patterns. Pretty mathematical, yet triggers human emotions. That's the magic! who knows where creativity comes from? Things like love and music are undefined. You cannot classify the undefined!
Q: Did you face any negative situations in this industry?
A: We will talk about what an "industry" is in a bit!
Q: What do you think about the current music trend in Sri Lanka?
A: The current trend is a very good representation of the Sri Lankan education system. Name me one country with a poor education system but an impressive artistic culture? You Can't! Because science and arts go hand to hand. Sri Lanka is scientifically illiterate, as so does artistically!
Q: Is it hard or easy to survive in this industry?
A: It really depends on what you mean by surviving. Any musician with a talent can find enough work to survive. No one would starve to death by choosing music as a career. The real challenge is to master the art and to explore your musicality. It takes a really creative mind to do so, and it takes some time and practice. After all, not every scientist is an "Albert Einstein".
Q: What inspires you to enter the music industry?
A: The answer is simple. It is music that inspired me. Since my childhood I trained as a classical Tabla player under maestro Wijayaratna Ranatunge. I had enough time to listen to Indian classical music when I was young. Then I eventually picked up keys. However, my teenage years saw how technology is shaping music. I wanted to learn the science behind creating music.
I am not sure if I am a part of the "industry" or not, because there is no active "industry" in Sri Lanka. It is unfortunate that a land that is rich in culture, literature and arts is lacking a good sense of music. A vibrant music industry earns millions of money with great record labels publishing and promoting great material and artists. We don't have that yet in Sri Lanka, but there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
Q: Tell me about your future plans and what you have done till now?
A: Future plans are pretty clear. I will keep improving myself as a composer and an audio engineer. So far, I have composed music for commercials on TV/radio and a few songs which have got global airplay.
Q: What advice would you like to give to upcoming young talents?
A: A creative mind has no time for advice; it is always trying to break the rules.