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Music of Thursday, 19 April 2007


Burger Hi-Life Returns

Funky bass lines, pounding drum patterns and inviting keyboards strikes toppped up with local guitar flavours and mostly Akan lyrics.

These are some of the elements that fueled Burger highlife in the 1980s and there?ll be a nostalgic glance back to those days when the Made In Germany-A Celebration of Burger Highlife programme reaches its climax at the National Theatre on Saturday.

Some of the best-known names in the genre are scheduled to appear in a concert to evoke memories of what made the music so attractive then. On the bill are George Darko, Pat Thomas, Charles Amoah, Bob Fiscian, Daddy Lumba, Nana Acheampong, McGod and Akyeame.

Burger highlife refers to a strain of highlife brewed in Germany when Ghanaian musicians got together with German producers and musicians. They came out with sound, perhaps aimed more at getting foreigners onto the dance floor, but which eventually became more popular in this country than anywhere else.

Describing the style, George Darko, whose Akoo Te Brofo was one of the trailblazers, said: ?As a guitarist trying to fuse highlife with other styles, it is necessary for me to utilise indigenous styles of playing the guitar. The drums, bass and keyboards can be made to play anything but the guitar and the vocals must always bring out the highlife feel.?

As a prelude to the concert, the second in the lecture series on the music was held at the Goethe-Institut last Tuesday.

Contributors at the event were Daddy Lumba, Charles Amoah, McGod, Peter Krick and Bodo Staiger from Germany and Chris Ankrah, a music business executive.

They touched on the packaging, marketing and distribution of Burger highlife.

Chris Ankrah stated that Daddy Lumba?s Aben Wo Ha album, released in 1999, sold over a million copies and remains the highest selling Ghanaian musical work.

Peter Krick is a musician and producer and has worked with several Ghanaians including Rex Gyamfi and Charles Amoah.

He said the biggest loophole in Ghanaian music production is the technical aspect, adding that it is one of the reasons why Ghanaian music has not made it big on the international market.

?Music lovers in the streets in the West are used to a certain quality. They don?t know what it is and how it comes about but they can tell if the vocals don?t sound good or the drums don?t sound right.?

According to him, tuning, timing and tempo are very important in any recording situation and a poor quality production is not worth anything. One should either go all out and put out a very good product or not indulge at all.

?Team work is essential and there must be the effort to learn from other people. Good work does not necessarily mean a lot of equipment. World famous records have been made on small equipment.?

Bodo Staiger is also a musician and producer. His studio in Dusseldorf is said to have churned out more Burger highlie albums than any other in the world.

He said he listens to and likes hiplife though he thinks most of it is poorly produced. To him, hiplife will survive if the young musicians engaged in it improve their knowledge of music and take advantage of every helping hand that comes their way.

The issue of copyright came up, prompting Lumba to say that though they work very hard, they don?t earn as much as the public assumes they do because the works are pirated and there are also no proper structures for musicians to earn all that is due them.

He urged musicians to speak with a united voice in other to improve their circumstances.

Charles Amoah said it is important for Ghanaian musicians to understand how the whole music business is structured and what things count if one wants to make a headway.

He was also not happy with the way sections of the media, especially radio disc jockeys, tend to overly influence what gets airplay.

?Sometimes the Ghanaian public is also too fussy. They criticise everything you do. People sometimes want you to do the same things you have been doing for years. That does not encourage creativity. Music is dynamic and its all about finding your niche and what will sell.?

A second Burger highlife concert has been planned for the Kumasi Cultural Centre on Saturday, April 28.