W.D.Amaradeva

By Maduranga Jayasinghe | November 30, 2016

"The magic of his voice, the exquisite permutations and combinations of notes that comprise his melodic creations, the pristine perfection of his pitch and his impeccable phrasing added up to make him the greatest of Sri Lanka’s vocal artists" - the founder of Sri Lanka’s modern cinema, Dr Lester James Peris. Should it need any definition for him?

Although he will not be present among us physically, Sri Lanka will always be alive with the sound of his music and the songs he has sung for the next hundred, thousand years. Pandit Amaradeva passed away the beginning of this month at the Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital after he suffered a heart attack. His farewell persuaded me to write about him being one of his fans.

He is Wannakuwattawaduge Don Amaradeva, known to fame as Amaradeva. I believe Amaradeva is the creator of modern Sinhala Music and its history is his biography. His music had to be based on the Indian Raagadhaari tradition and it had to derive its sustenance from Sri Lanka's folk music.

When I was a child, I wasn't interested in Amaradeva's song. I liked rock/pop music. But, When I was 11 years old I started learning oriental music and violin was my favourite musical instrument. I was started to be loved the oriental music than Rock/Pop styles. With ageing, I felt that there's a rhythm in his music and I loved his songs too much. Personally, I believe that his music is most suitable for the Brahma-muhurta time (3 AM to 6 AM). His songs give energy power and make a fresh day with more confident. Because of positive attitudes sustenance for his songs' lyrics.

Amaradeva is the youngest in his family of seven children. His father is violins repairer. He was good at Sitar, Violin and Harmonium from his young age. At the age of 7, he was gifted a Japanese violin by his father. He has gone several temples and school for his education. Later, he received his high education in Music from 'Bhathkande Music School'. Once he finished his higher education in Music, He was given the name of 'Amaradeva' by the famous dramatist Ediriweera Sarachchandra. He had given a significant contribution to the creation of the 'Sarala Gee' genre practised subsequently by other artists too. He married Miss.Vimala Amaradeva and he is a father of three children.

He is the musician of the Maldives national anthem. He has done a great service to the field of Sinhala Music and, has contributed in Music to a lot of films like ‘Ranmuthudoowa’, ‘Adata wadiya heta hoday’, ‘Sikuru tharuwa’, ‘Gamperaliya’, ‘Getawarayo’, ‘Saama’, ‘Laa dalu’, ‘Saarawita’, ‘Adarayay karunaway’, ‘Delowak athara’, and ‘Wesathuru siritha’.

He has sung a number of songs. Recently, he sang a duet song called 'Hanthaan Sihine' with famous younger female singer Umaria Sinhawansha. I wondered how much sync both voices are. Here the song.

He has also represented Sri Lanka in many forums including the UNESCO 1967 Manila Symposium and composed the melody for the Maldives national anthem, Gaumii salaam, at the request of British Queen Elizabeth II. Besides, he has awarded many honors locally and internationally including 'Padma Sri Award' from India, 'The Ramon Magsaysay Award' from Philippines, Title of Kala Keerthi from the Government of Sri Lanka, Honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from University of Peradeniya, University of Ruhuna and Honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy from University of Kelaniya.

Now, he has gone down the world history. We have only a memory of him and sound of his music. May you attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana!