Today, music has been made simple with the technological advancements. Everyone can record or produce music provided he or she has gadgets such as computers. But does anyone who sings or produces music qualify to become a musician? HOWARD MLOZI finds out from music tutor Wyndham Chechemba:
Give us a brief background of yourself?
I am Wyndham Chechamba, a veteran musician. And I am not saying this to boast, but I am just expressing a fact. I have been in the music for over 60 years. So, that entitles me to be a music veteran in Malawi.
As a music tutor, tell us why training is important for musicians?
It is very, very important because the structure of music; how to construct the voices and blend them together and produce a sound which is acceptable to the ear needs training. Otherwise, the blending of music by untrained musicians shall remain very shallow and because it is shallow it becomes monotonous. Musicians just go over and over same thing, failing to see the way out to reach other constructions.
In our music language, the one who is constructing the music has to know how to read and write music and this kind of arrangement is not verbal.
At one point you described mechanical-turned musicians are those responsible for ‘noise’ in Malawi music industry. Do you still stand by your words?
That term refers to those people who accidently find themselves doing music without proper training or mission. I mean, cannot just wake up one day and starting playing or recording music simply because someone else is doing so. Music needs training and reflection for it to be meaningful to society. But because people overlook these steps that is why we have ‘noise’ which is referred to as music.
Is Malawi doing enough to train musicians?
Not very much, no wonder I urge musicians to learn how to read music for them to know the basics and master the art. Unless they develop genuine hunger for professional music, not the monotonous sounds that have filled the market, the standard of music will not improve for the betterment of their reputation and Malawi as a whole. Mind you, there are certain types of music such as classic that cannot easily be played by someone who does not understand music.
Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) and other players in the music industry should make a deliberate policy to encourage musicians to undergo some form of training in music.
Is there any harm to have a generation of untrained musicians?
Let me answer that question by asking: where can you import copied or monotonous music on this Earth? The world out there is yearning for genuine music that accompanies standard elements. Let me take this opportunity to challenge Malawian musicians that they should not be deceived with some of the cheap public they get because it is false.
I am not saying musicians should play music that Chechamba does, but they should simply observe the rules of the game.
Playing music without some knowledge of construction reduces musicians to copycats who simply lift what other musicians have already sang somewhere. And this is not health for the growth of the country’s industry.
Lack of training in music also scares away potential investors. Imagine, who on earth can invest in monotonous or copied sounds? Where can they take that kind of music to?
So, what should be done to remedy the situation?
My instant answer would be: go and get some training in music for you to stop singing ‘noise’ or monotonous sounds. All music players such as promoters, musicians, producers, DJs, managers and music bodies should also join hands to demand quality for the good of our country. We should cultivate a spirit of promoting good things because together we can stop the ‘noise’.