COMPOSING SYMPHONIES OF NATURE

Rakitha Wickramarathne

The splendor of nature is not limited to its astounding image but also extends to its soundscape of swift serenades of the breeze, reverberations of the birds as well cacophonies of leaves rustling from the trees. What we found unique about performance artist Rakitha Wickramaratne is that he approaches music as a form of art that recreates and reinterprets the soundscape and symphony of nature exquisitely. Furthering the relationship between art and nature, Rakitha’s compositions promotes a harmonious ecosystem between the environment and mankind through eclectic ensembles of international caliber.

Rakitha, the Founder of the locally and globally recognized drum ensemble Naadro, is a percussionist and an aficionado of nature. He began his musical journey at the age of six, learning traditional drumming under the guidance of maestro Piyasara Shilpadhipathi. Following a deeply felt aspiration to embark on a career of percussion, Rakitha gained much needed experience during his studies at Royal College Colombo, when he excelled at SAGA, a music festival organized by the school, and the All Island School Championship in the category of drumming. Currently as one of the leading percussionists in Sri Lanka, he is excelling in compiling music that reflect his close bond with nature through musical masterpieces of unique performativity.

As a child, Rakitha says that his parents noticed his habit of tapping almost anything he could get his hands on which spurred the beginning of his drumming journey during his early years. Since then, the performance artist has developed a more nuanced relationship with sound and nature, which he has grown to treat as a source of inspiration. Rakitha believes and claims that the sounds of nature become imprinted in one’s mind even before birth. “Sounds of water for instance, are the initial rhythms that are etched in our memory, stemming from the vibrations we experience even before we are born – in our mother’s womb. When you think of how much we love the sound of water, this makes perfect sense, as it’s a part of our life. Water carries memories of a significant time in our lives of which we are not conscious of.”

Rakitha believes that his deep connection with nature embodies the simplicity of the environment. His percussion music is infused with reverberate rhythms inspired by the environment, which are often stimulated from that of a flowing river to the fall of raindrops on earth. The musical union between the sounds of nature and Rakitha’s compositions is best illustrated by tracks he composed and produced through Naadro for commercial brands including that of Lion Beer, Dimo and GShock to name a few. They reflect his eccentricity and unconventionality in terms of exploring varying sounds of nature. His musical composition titled ‘River Dance’, is one such original creation which imitates the upbeat and soothing stream of water with an inimitable interpretation. Likewise, ‘Rhythm Rain’ is another buoyant track that engages with the fresh dribble of raindrops on a worn out earth. The artist spends a lot of his time in natural surroundings to pique and awaken his senses to notice intricate rhythms in it to add character to his composition. A deliberate incorporation of nature is of course evident in compositions such as ‘Rhythm Rain’ and ‘River Dance’, but Rakitha also believes in consequence. He states “When rhythms of nature spontaneously claim their place, these sounds often become the missing piece that finds its way back in to a composition to make it whole.”

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9th October, 2018 Music

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