Tuesday, May 26, 2020

What Makes For Good Music?

“IF music be the food of life, play on,” said William Shakespeare, the great English poet and author. But one question still begs an answer in today’s modern world. What makes for good music?

Music, like any other area of life, has undergone multiple lifecycles owing to the immense changes in technology, social makeup and a host of other political and economic developments. Undoubtedly, we have come a long way from the popularity of reggae, which ruled the roost in the 80s and epitomized by the late reggae legend, Bob Marley.

The 90s saw the rise of groups such as Spice Girls and the 21st century has been the Hip Hop era, alongside other genres, such as Rock, R’n’B, House and Kwaito among others.
Musicians, such as Eminem, 50cent, Akon, Mariah Carey and Jay-Z are the symbols of music in the 21st century.

Does the answer for good music lie in the beat of the song, a popular criteria used by the modern young person of today? The use of the right “beat” has seen songwriters such as Timbaland, an American music producer garnering, cult-like popularity among youth. Timbaland’s music beats in songs such as The Way I Are and Promiscuous have led an untold number of young people into a frenzy on dance floors all over the world.

Or should we look to the lyrics of the song and use that as the standard for measuring the soundness of a piece of music. The lyrical content of music has been at the heart of controversy, with critics and parents detesting music from Hip Hop rappers such as Eminem and Snoop who use lewd and vulgar lyrics in songs.

A case in point is the concert held by the Game, an American rapper in South Africa last year, where a 10-year-old boy attending the concert was given the chance to strut his lyrical verbiage and sing along one of Game’s songs. Of course, the song contained vulgar much to the ‘amazement’ of those in attendance that a boy of that age could sing vulgar music word for word.

But who should be amazed because that is the music that we have allowed to be a part of us.

Sharing his sentiments on good music, Mthokozisi Dube, a gospel music lover said, “Music has to minister positively to you and build you up and that is what gospel does for me; it speaks to me.” Another music lover, Francis Rankgate, said, “Good music is all about being able to capture the things that happen in life, love, affliction and the inequality that is there.”

Putting aside the content that music seeks to spread about the issues of life, young people today are readily influenced by the music that they listen to.

Jamaican-born musician Shaggy is set to hit Botswana next month and the My Angel star is set to thrill the throngs of young followers here. His distinct Jamaican sound sets him apart from his contemporary peers and his presence is sure to be a hit in Gaborone. “I definitely will be going for the show, Shaggy has style and that is why his music is tops,” said one student at Limkokwing University.

The evolutionary path that music has taken has meant that good music nowadays has to do more about the individual, his or her style more than the content that they have in their song. Chris Brown’s recent battering of his girlfriend is bound to have untold repercussions on his music career as an image of an abuser is bound to see his career short-lived.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

Sunday Standard May 24 – 30

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of May 24 - 30, 2020.