I am not a huge fan of Malawian music. There are songs I like, tunes or melodies I may find myself dancing or strutting to, but no one would ever catch me listening to a full album of Malawian music.
Before you stone me and drag my body in the streets of Ndirande, hear me out first.
I do not mean to disparage, but Malawi music, if at all we have something near to that, sometimes sucks. We all have our tastes right and mine is just generally geared to instruments instead of shouting, which is the mainstay of Malawian songs.
Why am I ranting about music this week, you may ask? Well, this week someone in the office was playing gospel music and I could hardly concentrate as the music was so poor and irritating to the ear. I cannot remember the song, but the beat was more or less like South African gospel music and the vocalist was out of tune from the beginning to the end.
It is sad that such music is churned out en masse and Malawians are being fed such poor quality music.
I know ‘seasoned’music promoter-cum-hustler, Jack McBrams will disagree with me on this one, but I think some local gospel artists take Malawians for granted as they do not put much thought into their music.
Whatever they churn out as music is not music at all. The other time I argued with Jack about Malawian music in general. I recall he said something like ‘music is like love’ chakonda mzako mlekere!
I do admire good vocals—oh yes, take the sweet voice of George Mkandawire for example! Patience Namadingo is also another gifted Malawian gospel artist and many others I will not mention here for the obvious reason of space— but I also do not believe vocals—shouting in Malawian context—should be the centerline of songs.Where is the art of producing nice rhythms? By the way, vocals are usually melodic, instead of rhythmic.
Word on the street is that, our local musicians, especially on the gospel front must learn to take music seriously. I know people who are afraid to criticise gospel artists for fear of being branded ‘satanic’. But I can tell you, our local gospel music artists leave a lot to be desired. Whenever I try to listen to some local gospel songs, it really feels like someone is torturing my ears and my feelings.
But we on the streets are not surprised with declining standards of music in the country. Artists these days do not really want to produce original music. Listening to a majority of gospel songs, one can clearly notice that some artists just ‘copy and paste’ South African beats into their music production.
Producers too are not helping matters as they are sometimes the ones who mislead artists by producing music on templates. I am sure how this is done!
The bottom line is that we on the street, are missing original music that we were used to enjoy during the dark days of Kamuzu Banda.
We miss the days when original music from Alleluya Banda and other Balaka greats was being played all night long in taverns and bars, in buses and markets, during weddings, graduations and birthday parties.
By the way, have you ever wondered why these days Malawians prefer to listen to foreign music especially Nigerian instead of local music? Your guess is as good as mine; local music sucks.