A sisterhood of drummers  

Thurya in Sri Lankan vocabulary represents the category of percussion instruments.

Published: 14th January 2020 06:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th January 2020 06:32 AM   |  A+A-

Sanduni Chathurangi

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Thurya in Sri Lankan vocabulary represents the category of percussion instruments. Breaking the strict gender norms in the island country’s percussion art circle, a group of female drummers started performing under the name ‘Thuryaa’ in 2015, becoming the first-ever women’s percussion ensemble in Sri Lanka.

The band comprises 20 musicians, of which four drummers — Sithara Maduwanti, Sanduni Chathurangi, Shalini Yashodha and Chethani Rathnayake — were in the city on Sunday. The young and vibrant musicians performed to a packed audience at Express Avenue Mall. In a free-wheeling chat, the members spoke to CE about breaking into the traditionally male-dominated sphere of percussion music in Sri Lanka.
The journey of Thuryaa began within the walls of the University of the Visual and Performance Arts in Colombo.

“I enrolled as the first female student in the Department of Percussion at my university. I became the first female percussion graduate in the history of the university. With the help of my tabla teacher Sriyan Chandrasekara and support from the university, the ensemble was formed with nine talented undergraduate students in 2015,” said Sithara Maduwanti, the lead drummer. 

The musicians realised their ability to dance and groove to the beats while playing the instruments and that set them apart. “The whole body including the mind is involved in the process while performing. Sometimes our hands crack from pressure, we get exhausted and a few give up during the process of learning. Determination, training the bodies and constant practice has brought us this far. Women also have the endurance and strength to play this instrument and we’ve proved it,” beamed Sithara. 

The team has performed in Punjab, New Delhi, Odisha and Benares. The theme of the band ‘Share the rhythm of humanity’ was created to break the gender divide. “From the time of our ancestors, the traditional art of Sri Lankan drumming has been based within the confinement of men and has been out of reach for women. Everybody has the right to play. We hope to change the mindset with our performances and musical journey,” said Sithara. Soon, the band will be working on originals and albums. 

We’re told that there are five kinds of drums depending on whether they’re played with bare hands, sticks or both. The ensemble plays the Yak Beraya (Low Country drum), Thammettama (using sticks), Geta Beraya (wedding drum), Dawula, and Udakki. The team also plays the Indian tabla, dhol, Cajons, Congas, Djembes, Western drums and Timbales. 

Stay up to date on all the latest Chennai news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp