Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Malawi Music’s Quality Control

Quality control in this case refers to letting our music pass some form of litmus test...
Most radio stations complain that they receive an uncountable music compact disks or sometimes tapes brought by every Jack and Jill who say are musicians who have made some music that now needs airplay.
Without trying to patronise owners of music outlets, meaning those that have radio stations, Television stations or entertainment joints that play music, I think if we are to have quality music, then we need to set up standards, which should be set up as a checklist.
Once acclaimed musicians bring their music, it must be passed through a rigorous due process where it has to pass all or 90 percent of the points drawn on the checklist.
What would be the purpose of all this is to certify quality; some hints could be to look at the quality of sound i.e. is it filling the whole eardrum? On the other hand, is it trying to pull off the ear? Is it going to ‘infect’ the eardrum or just use it as a passage as it soothes the soul?
When listening to it are you feeling ashamed that the so called musician only exposed to outside ears failure when it is clear the voice used in the song desperately needed the very space the body also badly needed for some oxygen?
What about vocal variations, is it blending with the instrumentation? Is the music some common organised noise? I know there could be many areas to look into before venturing into unknown terrain. Well, all what sound this pen is trying to drum out is to ensure standard enforcement.
There are some employees in the radio stations, TVs and even entertainment joints that, at the expense of their jobs, let gluttony scarlet red in the teeth.
You find the musician taking their music to radio stations where they neither will nor query on procedures for leaving one’s music at such places.
Instead, they will look for a particular radio or TV presenter or the people who play music in entertainment joints most that wrongly tag themselves as disk Jockeys DJs – and leave their CDs with them.
The recipients of such will either dump it even when they pocketed a K10, 000 bunch of K500 notes for a Coke or play it repeatedly even when it is so immature to be called music.
This kind of greed is not motivational in the would be musician and it encourages them to go to a person who has a mixer placed in his dining room on his dining table linked with a ‘scraggy’ boom microphone.
Within two hours the so called musician will gurgle out noise, which the man owning the dining table and the mixer placed on it, will mix the panting sound with some computer programmes that will give it a drumbeat, accompanied by sounds of guitars and percussions.
All this will be happening on the back of an outcry that Malawi music has and still is struggling to get a place on the international market.
Some have been attributing this to failure to lack of establishment of a unique music genre but this earns my disagreement because this happens because artists do not know what they want to achieve.
This is what will usually generate impatient in the way music in the country is produced, even for those that are nationally acclaimed, as our top musicians have no patient to take time before releasing anything.
Come on! How can a band like Black Missionaries, for example, declare that they will be producing Kuimba albums annually?
If what they have on their records shelf as the latest production is Kuimba 7 then it means for the last 7 years they have been producing.
On average, they produce about 10 songs per album and in seven years, it means they have produced around 70 songs to their credit.
Are you sure, there is no compromise to quality in this instance?
Radio stations will always have no problems with this, as they will establish several programme specifically designed to ‘promote’ this kind of local music. If what is meant is to be achieved is really meant to promote, then I have a problem with the mediocrity they are championing.
If by accident or chance a member of an international music-promoting firm is visiting the country or any of the websites that have some of the local radios that are streaming online and catches the hurriedly prepared musical stuff, will they really be encouraged to come and promote it for the international market?
If we are to achieve quality as a country and promote local music, then local radio and TV stations and entertainment joints in collaboration with organisations dealing in and with music and musicians have to set up benchmark, which has to be used if music produced has to gain airplay.
These outlets need to critically look at the music videos produced other than broadcasting or playing anything they lay their hands on.
Even the press should not always carry stories for mediocre performers who just visit newsrooms, declare their musicians, and get story space.
Entertainment writers have to listen to the music of an artist before they can start glorifying mediocrity. We can do better with quality control in the music Industry.

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