Standard Of Music Is Falling. Stop Singing In Solo, Stop Dirty Hiplife Music

Even though I have retired from actively teaching music in schools, churches (choirs) and in some societies (vocal bands), except composing songs, giving counselling and polishing some final strains of composed songs, enjoying music played on the radio or TV remains my great hobby now.

I must say pointblank that my musical vocation began at my early childhood when my two elder brothers who were good guitarists and musicians often entertained me with their music. And the musical inspirations I imbibed from them had their further additionals when, in my father’s village, I used to listen and dance to “Konkomma” songs led by some three Gold Coast ex-soldiers of 1939-45 world war who had been retired, alongside several others after their discharge from Burma and India.

The band probably derived its ‘Konkomma’ name from the onomatopoeic word: ‘Kon….kon….kon’ of the raw side-drum which was being beaten when the group was marching towards the street centre for the evening’s showbiz. Thus the musical group was called ‘Kon…kon’ mma” in Akan, meaning the ‘Kon…kon’ people.

And their songs always sang in treble, alto, tenor and bass, were all the time under the indicatory directions of a conductor who stood before them. Those songs were often touching and moving, reflecting the traditional ‘osewde’, ‘adowa’ or crude hi-life strains.

In fact, all the other bands which later came to replace the ‘Konkomma’ and ‘Ahyewa’ band produced good music. ‘Ahyewa’ derived from the Akan rhetorical question: is it ( the music) hot enough to touch you? (ohye wo a?’ later perverted into ‘ahyew – wo-a?’ or ‘ahyewa’), the name being symptomatic of the hot boiling strains the box-drum produced!

And those of us who personally saw Sam, the father of hi-life music in the Gold Coast (he came to Breman Asikuma twice in 1948 and 1949) can testify to the fact that he sang beautifully and melodiously to his guitar music.

His student, Kwaa Mensah, also of Cape Coast, carried the hi-life music aloft, and when the Akan Trio which sang in melodious treble of Kwabena Okai, silvery alto of Paa ‘Joe’, and euphonic tenor of E.K Nyame spread their drama and tuneful songs all over the Gold Coast, hi-life music got a great booster in Kakaiku’s Guitar Band, Yamoah’s Band, Onyina’s Guitar Band, Happy Stars, African Brothers etc. which were all music and drama bands. Live bands which sprang in Accra such as Uhuru, Ramblers etc. and in Takoradi like those of Blay Ambolley and ‘sweet-voice’ Jewel Ackah and others, won the hearts of many listeners with their sweet, harmonious music produced in treble, alto and tenor.

As a matter of fact, the sweet euphonious melodies produced by musicians of the 1950s, 60s and 70s are now on a sad decline. Music of today is becoming nonsensical and rubbish as compared with the sweet music of the 1950s up to the 1980s, with the exception of Gospel Music ‘some’ of which is sung in treble, alto and tenor.

Treble, Alto, Tenor missing

What must be noted seriously is that what is good music is that which is produced from a sweet melodious harmony of sounds which are treble, alto, tenor (and bass). Nowadays, most of the singers, usually about three people sing the same one part- treble!

You simply cannot hear alto or tenor blending with the treble. This is called ‘unison’ in music – a song in which the singers sing one part or pitch only. Most musicians of today do not know what is treble or alto or tenor or bass, especially, those who sing secular (worldly) songs.

Gospel musicians sometimes have alto and tenor added to the treble to make their music sweet, but most of them have alto and tenor missing even though three people can be seen singing the song.


But the pitiable singers of unison songs (they are called ‘one-way singers’) are the hip-life artistes. They begin the songs rather swiftly; and in a second, one sees them to be singing the same treble part, and in a moment they stop to allow one of them to quickly rattle along what they call some ‘raps’.

One interesting and strange thing is that they make the raps appear poetic, like a primary school class-five boy uttering a recitation which has some rhyming words, most of which mean nothing such as “she came to ask me one question, And I too replied her in one version, but I gave her one pusher, and she thanked me quick like a fisher…” What do these rhyming words mean to the listener? Nothing. Yet these rhymesters delight in what they are saying, even though it definitely has no rhyme or reason!

The lyrics of most hip-life singers are always sexy and loud, often too immoral to be heard by teenagers who stand the risk of being influenced by the meanings of those impious words.

Indeed, some hip-life artistes are merely lewd musicians, thinking that to sing about sex is the craziest and most beautiful thing to do in this world! These are spoiled musicians, even though they don’t qualify to be called ‘musicians’ at all. Call them NOISY SHOUTERS, and you are right! Most of these hip-life ‘noisy shouters’ mix their silly styles with hi-life music, thus intending to destroy the purity of the gentle hi-life music.

Let me be a bit blunt here: hip-life is bent upon destroying the beauty of hi-life, through its ‘one-way’ part or pitch, through its nonsensically sexy and immoral lyrics and through its inability to stand alone, except it is mixed with hi-life. Even the name ‘hip’-life, suggests the use of the hip (waist) in sex-like dance; so hip-life itself is satanically inspired and a misfit in music which decent people should frown upon.

It is to be remembered that some of the hip-life artistes were Senior Secondary students who led ‘I-don’t-care’ life and did not care to sing such sexy immoral or love songs to the acclamation and praises and yells of their ‘I-don’t-care’ college colleagues and friends. They then decided there and then to be hip-life musicians later, since their silly, detrimental songs were loved by “some students”.

Now they come out of the Secondary School and, unable to attend a University, collect a few friends, and make up their minds to churn out some noisy shouts which they call hip-life music backed by some hired instruments. They shout and rap along like drunk young men, and they get some crazy girls and boys to jump unrhythmically about, like hellish mad people! Yes, this is what they call hip-life.

There are rumours that before performing on the stage or before recording, some of these hip-life artistes get crazy by first smoking ‘wee’ or marijuana, which enables them to shout in frenzy. If this is true, then they are disgracing themselves, their parents and their own vocation!

That is why most gentlemen call these hiplife ‘musicians’ as NOISY SHOUTERS, for what they sing is not music, but noisy shouting of some sexy nonsensicalities, often enwrapped in some dirty rank raps! In the circumstance, why MUSIGA should stoop so low as to accept such nonsensical ,shouting sounds as hip life music, which is often lined up with filthy, sexy, immoral words, can’t be understood.

MUSIGA should stand up to condemn such a type of music, and discourage it! These hip-life artistes must be given in-service training, which will teach them how to use refined words, how to sing sweetly without shouting, and how to make hip life to stand independently on its own axis without using hi-life beats. Hip life is ingloriously adulterating hi-life, thus spoiling its traditional beauty! Until this is done, MUSIGA should not encourage such bad music with awards to hiplife musicians. My own fellow journalists who are ENTERTAINMENT critics should write to condemn such music which has immoral strains, a nondescript of a song which has no beauty of lyrics, rhythm, pitch and what have you.

Of course, most ENTERTAINMENT journalists need to be occasionally schooled in the fundamentals of music, dance, playwriting etc. to enable them to appreciate the high standards required in these areas, so to criticize shoddy productions in music, dancing, plays and film-making.

It will redound to the credit of the GJA to liaise with Friedrich Elbert Foundation and such-like organizations to draft personnel from Legon School of Music, NAFTI, Commission on Culture etc. as resource persons who will give deeper insight into the entertainment job. This will sharpen the critical acumen of Entertainment critics to discourage the ever-growing indecency in music which a few hi-life artistes and hiplife noisy shouters are showing in their song to the moral detriment of the youth.


It must be said briefly that music mainly deals with harmony of all or most of the vocal parts. In general, we have four parts which must be heard in any good music – treble, alto, tenor and bass. The musical heritage initiated by the great hi-life maestro, E.K’s Guitar Band, in the 1950s and later continued nationwide by hi-life king Nana Ampadu’s African Brothers, has been consisting of treble, alto, and tenor, which has not been a bad practice at all. Indeed, this has been the best standard of music which the Ghanaian listening populace has all the while been treated to – that is music in treble, alto and tenor, which is now being admirably kept by Ampong, Isaac (Show boy) and ‘C’ (Cynthia) in their gospel songs.

But what is the name of Ampongs top musical group whose songs touch the hearts of many people with its treble, alto and tenor renditions? Unfortunately, most gospel singers prefer to sing alone. But this is no music, and they had better change their style of music to include treble, alto and tenor, to uphold good standard of music. In fact, singing in one part or unison or always singing in solo, or singing dirty, immoral lyrics etc. are making our standard of music fall pitiably in modern Ghana (Wait for more of such articles later).

Source: Apostle Kwamena Ahinful