Music from the fringes of Sri Lanka

Like knocking stones together to spark a flame, “Thattu Pattu” derives its meaning from two loanwords between Sinhala and Tamil — the languages predominantly spoken in Sri Lanka. In Sinhala and Tamil respectively, “tattuva” and “thattu” mean “knock” while “pattu” and “patru[thal]” mean “to catch Fire." Thattu Pattu intends to spark a renewed interest in music from the fringes of Sri Lanka, and nurture this flame through a sustained engagement with musicians.

 

Outside of the mainstream — dominated by Sinhala Pop sold through RingIn tones — the Sri Lankan independent music scene is quite small, and far less profitable. Musicians often work full-time jobs in other fields as they are unable to sustain themselves on their craft alone, as their audiences are too small to support them through attending events and purchasing their music. Despite these hardships, there are musicians who have persevered and continue to work on their craft and produce music. These are the musicians we chose to seek out for this project.

Our curatorial team worked with an extensive list of nominations before carefully pruning a shortlist of musicians that we felt would best benefit from the support and encouragement we could offer. We looked for musicians outside of the mainstream, who were exploring sound to express themselves in unique ways. The musicians we have chosen cover various musical genres and represent different music scenes within Sri Lanka, from hip hop to electronic music, folk music to neo-soul, and so on.

In a time of unpredictable lockdowns and perpetually postponed concerts, the Goethe-Institut Sri Lanka teamed up with music experts in the field, and financially supported these musicians and commissioned new musical works from each of them. Each act was supported to realize high quality productions that would highlight their unique voice. They were then paired with a local expert on their respective music scene as well as an international music journalist who would write essays on these pieces. This and more await your curious eyes and ears as we are happy to begin sharing with you “Thattu Pattu: music from the fringes of Sri Lanka”.

Asvajit Boyle, Thomas Burkhalter, Imaad Majeed & Sumudi Suraweera

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Music from the fringes of Sri Lanka

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