- With these state of the art equipment producers have become an integral part of music that are indispensable, for they own the catchy beats and melodies that blare out of speakers.
The music industry is fast growing in Tanzania and Africa in general thanks to the availability of technology that now makes it possible for musicians to acquire studio equipment.
With these state of the art equipment producers have become an integral part of music that are indispensable, for they own the catchy beats and melodies that blare out of speakers.
Rarely unseen but they are the ones that hold the key to the success of today’s musicians and without such talented producers such as Master Jay and P-Funk maybe we wouldn’t be speaking of Bongo Flava today.
Later day producers such as Tud Thomas, Laizer, Nahreel, Marco Chali and others have succeeded due to the ground work laid by their predecessors.
But then even as some of these talented producers gave us what we see today as Tanzania’s music, there are some who have made it out of sheer luck.
But who is a music producer then?
A music producer oversees and manages the sound recording and production of a band or performer’s music, which may range from recording one song to recording a lengthy concept album.
Has an overall vision for the music, the sound and the goals of the project, and brings a unique perspective to inspire, assist and sometimes provoke the artiste’ creativity.
The producer makes the record more than the sum of its parts one could almost say is trying to create musical alchemy.
Every producer brings different skills and a different approach, and this can make what they do difficult to summarize.
In Tanzania, music producers have been proliferating as the number of artists increases daily.
Are all producers’ professionals?
It is a million dollar question that does not seem to have a definite answer especially in the Bongo Flava arena.
At Pango Records in Mwanza the producer in charge, H-Pol, admits that despite the big names in the trade most of them have got there out of curiosity and not through professional training.
He cites FishCrab Records’ Lamar who is among the few professionally trained producers who took time off his busy schedule to go abroad to study music production.
“In most cases, music preparation and production is a ‘talent’. Out of ten producers, you will find that either seven or eight began at an early age while in churches or elsewhere,” says H-Pol.
Shukuru Frank aka Maximizer is a producer who plies his trade in both Mwanza and Dar es Salaam, to him, production is an art that might be termed as a talent and as well as a career that runs in blood.
According to Maximizer it is all about creativity and how you keep up-to-date with the trends of the industry that will keep people knocking on your doors.
“Here it does not matter of whether you are trained to play with the music instruments or not, the big deal is to be unique and come up with amazing beats that get people off their feet,” says Maximizer.
Maximizer is quick to warn that just like any other career, nusic production is not a walk in the park as it requires passion and hard work above everything else and that is what makes some producers stand out of the crowd.
“Before I became a producer I studied at Bagamoyo School of Arts (Tasuba) and that was when I realised that without passion you cannot make it in this trade,” he says Maximizer.
He believes that every producer in Tanzania has his own style on how he or she blends the music, either be on the already composed FL Studio or Cubase for the vocals insertion.
“When a new artiste comes in, the first thing we do is to listen to his or her tone and pitch before anything else can take place. This makes it easier to trace the original pitch and the speed to apply before mixing process,” says Maximizer.
Can a producer help an artist grow?
According to Zephania Wangwi, a student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Audio Technology with specializations in computer science and physics at American University, most musicians spend too long doing things that are not working without realizing it and that adds up to their frustration and therefore limiting their progress.
“When these artists go for recording, it takes a bit time to regulate their voicals and keys on the musical instrumental and even in the computer, here a variation of touch by the producers is now welcome,” he says.
How is the trend internationally?
Some producers seem to have an almost magical touch, a secret formula that guarantees almost anyone who works with them success.
In the US,Phil Spector, with his trademark ‘wall of sound’ was an early example, whereas in the 80s ‘Stock Aiteken and Waterman’ developed and instantly recognizable template for their artistes.
Of course a distinctive sound is only a good thing if the producer’s style suits the material.
Paul McCartney was famously outraged at what Spector did with “Let It Be”. Dr. Dre is a more recent example of a “golden ticket” producer, almost single-handedly responsible for the output of a vast strip of the biggest rap and R&B artistes in recent years.
Only a few producers in Tanzania have been trained on how to play the piano, guitar, saxophone and other music instruments this in a way affects their progress.