A Collaboration That Worked

 

When one person works on his own, he or she will achieve a specific measure of output. However, it has been observed that the total output of two people doing their work together is greater than the total output of two people working separately. This is referred to as synergy.

The case of two people working separately can be represented as follows: 1 + 1 = 2.

The case of two people working together can be represented as follows: 1 + 1 = 3.

According to Dictionary.com Unabridged, synergy is the joint action of agents so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

In most human activities when people work together in teams, the results are more excellent than when they work individually.

Some ten years ago, I was privileged to be part of a music recording project that demonstrated this principle.

My childhood friend, Dr. John Sendama, had over the years been composing songs in English and Bemba. He decided to invite me to work with him to commercially produce a music album made up of some of these songs.

After listening to all the compositions, we decided to focus on the songs in Bemba and put aside the English songs for a future time. The first thing we did was to select those songs that belonged to a particular social theme to help us appropriately name the music album. We found that most songs could be grouped under the marriage or wedding category. We decided to call the album, “UBWINGA” – a Bemba word meaning, “WEDDING.”

Since the songs were yet not yet polished, and most of the lyrics were incomplete, we decided to work through each song to complete and rewrite the lyrics to suit the wedding theme. John, who was the composer of each song, was responsible for overseeing the rewriting process in order to ensure that we maintained the meaning originally intended by him.

When each song was completed to our satisfaction, I would go through each song in order to rearrange the music to an acceptable music format. To do this, I would use the same electronic keyboard that John had used to compose the songs.

When we were satisfied with the general standard of the few completed songs, we decided to perfect the title song in readiness for recording in a commercial music studio.

We reasoned that if we were going to go public with our music, we needed to have a name by which to be identified. After days of serious brainstorming, we were unsuccessful in coming up with a suitable name.

When we shared our problem with Wezi, John Sendama’s second-born son, he simply said, “You guys are old and play music for old people. You should just call yourselves, “Madalas United Band.” We instantly adopted the name but later dropped the word, “United.” Thus was born “The Madalas Band.”

The name “Madalas Band” was originally reserved for John Sendama and myself. It was later broadened to include my brother, Dr Kingstone Katebe, who we had brought in to sing the main vocals. After I had left the band, the name was loosely applied to include the four musicians, namely Joseph, Rocky, Gift, and Blower.

 

After asking around, we decided to record our music in Sheezaw Studio, located at the Commercial Show grounds in Wusakile, Kitwe. A Mr. Ezekiel Shibemba was the studio proprietor as well as the studio’s music producer. We later found out that Ezekiel was a uniquely talented and accomplished musician.

I suggested to John that we should hire the services of a guitarist to infuse into the songs a human touch and individual creativity. I was not happy with the mechanical and inflexible sound of the electronic keyboard.

Ezekiel suggested that we approach a man by the name of Joseph Mutemba whom he regarded as one of the best guitarists in Kitwe. John Sendama looked for the man and found him. Joseph decided to come along with a friend of his, Rocky Mushika, a bass guitar player.

Joseph and Rocky entered the recording booth with me. I sung through the title song against the sound of recorded music on John’s electronic keyboard while the two men played their guitars along. The two guitarists said they were ready to make an attempt a trial recording after being taken through the song only once.

We asked the studio recording engineer, Mark Siwale, to record the rhythm and bass guitars in turn. When we listened to the trial recording, we were impressed by its quality. We all decided that the recording should be treated as a final take.

After we had completed the recording of the title song, Ubwinga, we thanked the musicians for a job well done and told them we might call upon them if we needed them. They pleaded with us so that we could allow them be part of the entire recording project.

After debating the pros and cons of retaining them, John Sendama felt that it might a good idea to do so. We agreed to continue to work with the musicians.

We decided to take a break so that we could rehearse the vocals with everyone involved. At the first rehearsal Joseph and Rocky decided to bring along two of their friends to assist with the vocals – Elias "Shi Mpundu" and a Congolese male singer. John and I did not like the Bemba intonation of the Congolese guest singers. We, however, gave them a chance to try out their voices in the studio.

My brother, Kingstone, was the first one to enter the recording booth to do the main vocals. Thereafter, everyone else took turns at recording backing vocals. After listening to the demo recording of the vocals, we decided to drop the Congolese singer as his pronunciation and intonation were incongruous with the pronunciation and intonation required for the songs.

 

Finally, Joseph entered the studio to add the lead and acoustic guitars. Ezekiel was so pleased by the creativeness of the title song for the “Ubwinga” album that he volunteered to add trumpets to the song by using the studio electronic keyboard. He spontaneously recorded the trumpet track as the song played in the background. He did not need any rehearsals to accomplish this.

Mark, the studio engineer was charged with the responsibility of adding percussions to the music and adding finishing touches to the song.

The next stage of the music project involved the writing, arranging and rehearsing of the remaining songs for the album.

Each member of the team had a specific role to play in the project.

John Sendama was throughout the life of the Ubwinga music project, the overall project manager. He was responsible for operational and financial management of the entire music project. Besides his managerial functions, he was also the composer of the music as well as a backing vocalist.

Kingstone, who has an excellent singing voice, was only active for the duration of the recording of the “Ubwinga” album songs. He was responsible for singing the main vocals. I, however, sang the main vocals on two of the album songs.

My role was that of overseeing the technical side of the music. I was responsible for conducting the music rehearsals and supervising the recording sessions. Like everybody else, I was also required to sing as a backing vocalist.

Joseph was responsible for the rhythm and lead guitars while Rocky was responsible for playing the bass guitar.

 

Listen to Madalas' "Imbeka" (Angel) track by clicking on the arrow below:

 

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INSTRUMENTAL VERSION:

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(TO BE CONTINUED)

 

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  1 comment for “A Collaboration That Worked

  1. jonathan chibwe
    February 25, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    i have most of these pieces.

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