Young professional finds his niche in music | Sunday Observer

Young professional finds his niche in music

20 June, 2021

Not everyone is good at the art of creative expression, but we all long to enjoy such creations, be it a poem, short story, novel, song, drama, dance, paint or any other form of an artistic expression, depending on the tastes and depths in each of us. 

The success of an artist is about the ability to touch the hearts and minds of many others through his or her creations. Those awaken deeper feelings and thoughts in us in the most beautiful and comfortable way.  

Tilan Wijayawardana (34), a doctor working at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (IDH), is gifted and talented in the field of music and practices it to calm and soothe his inner self and his audience.

He turns to his guitar or piano as soon as he gets a respite from his demanding role as a frontline health professional in the fight against Covid-19. 

Tilan said his responsibilities at work have become more and more challenging these days as the hospital has been stretched to the limit with Covid-19 patients needing critical care. However, he eagerly found time and spoke to the Sunday Observer on his music career.   

Tilan, a father of two kids aged five and one, released a new song titled “Hada Gehena Raawe” on April 2 as a tribute to motherhood. Lyrics, vocals and music of this song are by Dr. Tilan Wijayawardana and its melody was influenced by ‘Tujhe Kithna Chahne Lage’ (Hindi) by Indian Music Composer and Singer Arijit Singh. 

Noting that it was his third song, Tilan said his first single was a music video titled ‘Patunak Kumatada’, which was released in February. Its music is by musician Sanka Dineth and lyrics by Vimalka Mohandhiram. Tilan has also done a mash up cover song titled ‘Kavada Ho’ bringing Indian and Sri Lankan music together. The budding musician was happy that he overwhelmingly received warm and encouraging comments on his music productions.  

Tilan got the hang of both Western and Eastern music while schooling at Richmond College, Galle, and he recollects the guidance to him by Music Teacher Kusumini Karunanayake with respect. He has received multiple accolades for his music talent at his school as well as the University of Colombo, where he obtained the MBBS Degree.

While trying to find his own niche in the contemporary highly competitive music industry, Tilan passionately spoke to us on his journey so far and future ambitions in the field of music.  

Q: Is music your childhood passion? What influenced you to pursue a career in music in addition to being a doctor?

A: Well yes. From the beginning, I had the ability to play by ear, or in other words, listen to a song and then reproduce it using my instruments without prior knowledge of music. That was the biggest stimulus which encouraged me to constantly keep in touch with music. I was more into playing instruments than singing at the start.

My mother, who first found the musician in me, says at the age of 3, I played the song ‘Ira Paya’ (sung by Samitha Mudunkotuwa) on a toy piano I got for my birthday. That could even be the start of my music career. Since then, I have been entertaining others by playing many songs using my keyboard. 

I was a lead singer and pianist in the school choir. I was good at reciting traditional Sinhala ‘kavi’ and won all island prizes for that while schooling. I took part in all island competitions of English and Sinhala drama. During my University days, I got first place at singing competitions at the Medical Faculty. I made the theme song for the ‘Ninnaada’ Talent Show in 2012 at the Faculty. 

Q: When you work on a song, do you have a melody in your head and then do the music for it, or how do you go about creating a song?

A: It can be done in both ways. If lyrics come first, it is a bit time consuming task for the composer. If the melody comes first, the other way round. To make a melody you really need to live on that moment at least for some time. 

Q: Have you written songs or composed music for any other artists?

A: Recently, I submitted some music compositions done by me to several senior artists. Hopefully, they will get back to me with them in the near future. The Covid-19 situation may slow down those plans. 

Q: Who are the local musicians you admire the most?

A: Veteran artists such as T M Jayarathna, late Pandit W. D. Amaradewa and Dr. Sujatha Aththanayaka are among my favourites. They were pioneers who cleared the path for the Sri Lankan music industry to develop.  Kasun Kalhara, Sashika Nisansala and Uresha Ravihari are some of te prominent young artists I admire. 

Q: What is the best advice you have been given with regard to music?

A: “Do whatever you do whole heartedly. Outcome may vary depending on the situation, but a steady future can be assured.” In my own opinion, learning and studying music can be an additional advantage, but using the inborn talent to the maximum is more important.  

Q: How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business locally? 

A: It is a very attractive and useful platform for a beginner. For artists who are already established in the field, the Internet has become an innovative source of income.

Q: What is next for you? 

A: I have an idea to form a mini studio at my home and it is in the process. My family members and friends are giving tremendous support to improve my music performance.

They are always behind me. My mother and sister fancied seeing me as a popular artist and my wife always helps me to achieve higher in my academic studies. 

In the music field, doing my own creations and trying to reach a bigger audience are my objectives. I have a few academic targets in my medical profession as well. I started my own YouTube Channel ‘Tilan Wijayawardana official’ to keep my followers updated on all my current and upcoming music compositions.  

Recently, I took part in the ‘The Voice’ reality television programme, and it was the first experience of that kind to me. I reached up to the Battle Rounds under the guidance of its coaches receiving the much needed exposure. 

Q: If you could change anything about the music industry in Sri Lanka, what would it be?

A: I believe there should be music academies, which maintain proper standards, to learn music. Had I got the chance I would help towards this endeavour. Assistance from senior colleagues in the field should also be more consistent and stimulating.