ADAPTING TRADITIONAL MUSIC INTO A CONTEMPORARY CONTEXT
Insights by Dr.Sumudi Suraweera
Contemporary Sri Lankan pop music across the board ranging from Sinhala light pop to hip hop to rock makes reference to Sri Lankan traditional music. Being commercially oriented, one questions the real intentions of these contemporary artists behind adapting elements of traditional music. In some cases, artists use the traditional element as the 'cultural triumph card' when attempting to promote music globally. In other instances, it is a matter of filtering out the 'easy listening' elements of traditional music to cater to the general masses. Sadly, neither of these practices portray the richness of the traditional music, nor generates a level of appreciation it deserves. Therefore, I would like to identify these current commercial trends as musical contexts in which the traditional music is deteriorated further , in addition to the challenges it faces in its orginal contexts.
It is possible to adapt elements of traditional music onto a contemporary setting in which both the traditional and the contemporary can mutually benefit each other. That is a context in which the musicall essence , richness and uniqueness of the traditional music is highlighted , along with an innovative new sound produced as a result of interaction and communication with contemporary musical elements. It is possible with a careful and in-depth study of the traditional. To go a step further, it is believed that an adaptation carried out in such a manner can help preserve and revive interest in the traditional. Such a project can only exist outside the commercial , market - driven industry, within the context of non- mainstream contemporary art and music