Technology and traditional music genres

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A survey by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) examines the impact of technology on Nigerian traditional music genres.

Nigerian traditional artistes ultimately rely on percussion instruments for the uniqueness of their works.

Such instruments include the drum, gong, lute — molo, boat-shaped lute, called kontigi, talking drums, known as kalangu in Hausa, ogene (a metal gong) and oja (a wooden five-hole flute among the Igbo traditional artistes.

This is because these musical instruments elicit the innate ability of the artistes to control and provide a diverse array of tempo, sound and pitch in their songs.

But with the advent of technology and its introduction to the production of music, analysts believe that traditional music genres have been affected by various modern techniques.

Although music buffs have commended the positive impact of technology in the music industry, they note that traditional musical instruments are fast disappearing and efforts should be made to preserve them.

Respondents note in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the development poses a threat to local and traditional music production.

For instance, a famous traditional musician in Kano, Usman Abubakar, observes that technology has repositioned local Hausa music to give it a global quality.

“In those days, before the advent of technology, many upcoming musicians have to source for traditional musicians to produce the music for them; now all these can be done with keyboards and piano,’’ he says.

Another local musician, Musa Auwal, says: “So if we don’t utilise the local instruments and teach the younger generation to utilise them, we may wake up and find that they are nowhere to be found’’.

Auwal notes that traditional musical instruments represent people’s identity and cultures and should not be allowed to disappear.

Dazang Gwom, state chairman of Kaduna State Chapter of Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), observes further that the effects of electronic devices for reproducing songs are telling on artistes

Gwom, however, agrees that technology has made music accessible as fans do not have to wait for radio stations to play the latest releases.

“Consumers can check the artistes’ social media pages or streaming online and find a link to their latest songs,’’ he notes.

A resident of Birnin Kebbi, Alhaji Muhammad Sadisu, noted that modern technology has impacted on music and culture positively and negatively.

“Many potential musicians no longer have to procure musical instruments before they can record or play music.

“Any potential musician can easily browse from various applications on the internet to listen to tunes suitable to the music they want to compose,’’ he observed.

He, however, noted that technology had adversely affected culture and tradition, including morality in society, especially among the youth.

“The youth now, with the advent of technology, interact with some weird foreign culture and adopt same as their life style.

“Take for example, sagging of trousers, piecing of ears to wear ear rings, body tattooing and skimpy dresses, among others, which are foreign to African tradition,’’ Mohammed said.

Similarly, a popular singer in Kebbi, Habiba Manga, explained that technology has posed great challenges to music industry.

“We get our songs done in studios in Kano State after the voicing; but the sound or tune you use in your songs, unknown to you may be used for another person because you probably have gone to same studio.

“Unlike before, when you have people around to compose your song and hardly would someone copying it.

Also, technology has also made piracy easier; a computer is used to transform your voice and replace it with someone’s voice.

“This is one of the reasons why you see the number of musicians have increased, especially during electioneering, as you don’t need to have much talent to compose songs and music now, what you need is computer operator and a good studio,’’ she said.

Manga, however, said technology has made their job easier, observing that with the advent of social media, a musician needed not to travel to compose his songs.

A local musician in Sokoto State, Gagala Garba, said it was time for traditional musicians to embrace the changing trend brought about by technology.  In the same vein, a cross section of music lovers in the south eastern part of the country, has expressed mixed reactions to the impact of technology in the local and traditional music in Nigeria.

Mr Francis Okafor, a Disc Jockey (DJ) in Abakaliki, Ebonyi, said that with technologies, one could compose, record and market his album at ease online without going to the market.

The DJ noted that technology has made good impact on the nation’s local music as one could easily buy and play the afrobeat and highlife genre anywhere in the world.

“Kanye West, an American popular rapper, loves to play and listen to the music of David Adeleke, populaly known as Davido.

“Other popular Nigeria musicians like Patrick Nnaemeka, popularly known as Patoranking and Chinedu Okoli, known as Flavour, among others, are also admired by other countries of the world,’’ Okafor said.

However, a music lover and showbiz organiser, Mr Sylvester Ade, argued that the “positive impact of technology on culture, local and traditional music is good if nudity in video plays is removed.

“The country’s highlife music and other songs have improved with the use of technology. In music videos, I don’t like the state of nudity in some of them’’.

In his view, Dr Aaron Agbo, a lecturer in the Department of Psychology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, noted that “it is because of technology that somebody in U.S. would be able to play and enjoy traditional Igbo highlife music.

“Some people living outside Nigeria tell their children about their local music because it can be seen on television, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and YouTube.

“Because of technology, video tapes of a traditional marriage event, yam or masquerade festivals of community that showcased local music and traditional heritage of the people could be watched globally.

“With your mobile phone you can play your best highlife music and traditional music of your people in part of world you find yourself because of technology’’.

In the light of Agbo’s view, Chief Sylvanus Aruma, the traditional ruler of Nru community in Nsukka, stressed the need for Africans to take full advantage of technology in promoting local and traditional music.

But Mr Ken Ozorani, of the Department of Music, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Sound Management Unit, expressed concern that some local instruments might go extinct if nothing was done to preserve them for future generation.

He said that technology has reduced their value and importance through music keyboard and other modern instruments.

Mr John Ogbonna, a programme presenter on Lion FM radio station, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, said that though technology might have one or two disadvantages, its numerous advantages outweighed its demerits.

But Chief Chibundu Ukpabi, a native of Umuda Isingwu in Umuahia, argued that technology has done more harm than good to the nation’s traditional and local music.

He said technology has made today’s musicians lazy, saying that they could sit in the comfort of their homes and continue to churn out music.

The octogenarian music lover said: “Music is life, music communicates and it transforms, but most of today’s music as influenced by technology and foreign culture is more or less celebrating immorality, corruption and other vices.

“Our indigenous musicians in the 1960 up to 1980s were legendary and their music are evergreen with little or no technology.

“These legends include Victor Uwaifo, Victor Olaiya, Bongos Ikwue, Osita Osadebe, Prince Nico Mbaraga, King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Christy Essien Igbokwe, Rex Lawson and a host of others.”

Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Chucks Emenike, a music enthusiast in Awka, Anambra, said that the quality of music of yesteryears were more original and inspiring than present day musicians.

According to him, music of yesteryears is unique and still relevant to our culture as a people. “In Igboland, the music that get glamour and greeted with euphoria are the music of yesteryears than the recent ones.

Emenike blamed the quest for good money for the erosion of creativity of African musicians and that they were not patient to learn how to play the instruments.

He regretted that modern day musicians were not interested in the life span of their music which was why most of them come on stage and fizzle out almost immediately.

This view notwithstanding, an instrumentalist, Ifeanyi Okoronkwo said that technology alleviated many stresses of musicians.

“In music, we have what we call the drums, konga, clips, amps and others to mention but few.

“Each of these items brings out different sound to augment another and these are the things that gives music its flavour.

“With all these instruments, you can sing any song of your choice like, Osita Osadebe, Victor Olaiya, Mike Ejeagha and others,’’ he said.

Mr John Ofodile, another lover of music, said that technology was a necessary evil which the music industry has to deal with. Ofodile advised youngsters to develop their own originality in music production instead of remixing music of older generation.

Obed Anya, Proprietor, Mobidykes Studios in Aba, said that software technology has put many musical production personnel out of business because some software now did their work.

Anya said that it was not every part of musical production that could be substituted all the time because substitution of human elements with technology reduced quality of the musical production.

He noted that because music was a spiritual exercise, the final product of a software produced music was always lower than the quality of the human input.

Mr Timothy Ikwor, music producer said: “Before now, the studio was analogue, now technology has improved that and the start-up cost used to be huge but now it is reduced.

“In the analogue period, there has to be up to 10 persons to join hands in the production but now, one person alone can do that.

“The truth is that before now, a producer could not compromise quality because only people who know what they were doing come to the studio to produce music and if they make mistakes, the producer starts afresh.

“But now even if the producer knows what is obtainable, he can still achieve that by layering the background.

“And then he can bring in some needed hands such as the keyboardist or percussionist; but now some of the artistes would want you to produce just anything even when you want to protect your name, they do not care.

“For some artistes, if you tell them what is required to get quality, they say no but if you want your name to be protected, you will say no too’’.

Worried by the development, Fuji Musician Adewale Ayuba, called on the federal government to establish annual indigenous musical festivals to promote nation’s culture and boost tourism.

He said these indigenous musical festivals should be an opportunity to showcase how the nation was endowed, considering its numerous genres of music such as Fuji, Juju, Waka, Sakara, Afrobeat, Reggae music and more.

According to him, these indigenous musical genres should be protected from going into extinction.

Ayuba said that the best way to boost tourists’ influx into the country was to project the unique features of the nation’s culture.

He advised the Federal Government to organise annual Fuji, Juju, Sakara, Apala, Afrobeat, Reggae and Highlife musical concerts to ensure nation’s culture was well preserved as well as boost tourism.

Ayuba said most Nigerian local musicians have not been opportune to attract awards because they have not taken time to explore local musical instruments with their music.

He said the use of these local instruments would add unique features to their music rather than opting for computer generated sounds.

According to him, technological advancement has 40 per cent positive effect on Nigeria indigenous music and 60 per cent negative effect.

He, however, urged Nigerian musicians to explore local musical instruments such as ekwe, ngedegwu, gangan, gudugudu, goje, kakaki, kontigi, ogene, oja, agidigbo and many others peculiar with each ethnic group.

He said this will make their music distinct from all other music as they stay creative in their choice of career.

Nigerian Flutist Omatshola Iseli, popularly known as Tee Mac, also called other indigenous musicians in Nigeria to improve on their music to be more acceptable and embraced by the younger generation.

For copyright protection, Emeka Chigozie, Senior Licensing Officer, Nigeria Copyright Commission, Kaduna zone, assures the artistes that the commission has been dealing with the piracy problem and finding ways to get musicians paid.

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