Guest Blogger

A letter to Ghanaian music video directors – Naana The Violinist

After minutes, hours, days, and months of hard work to produce a hit song or an album, it’s the dream of every Ghana music artiste to, not only sit back and enjoy their songs receive massive airplay across the country, but also receive worldwide recognition for their hit songs as well.

The Ghana Music industry is undeniably progressing at a fast pace.

As the years ago by, concepts for music video shoots are getting more and more interesting. One concept, I have noticed lately is the introduction of bowed string instruments as props for most of the new music videos.

From Kuami Eugene’s ‘Rockstar’ music video to Celestine Donkor’s ‘Thank You’ song to Seth Diamond’s ‘Take Over’ music video, Myx Quests ‘Catchy Catchy’ music video, just to mention a few all have mind-blowing concepts that feature professional String Quartets within the country to bring life to these videos.

The most recent discovery is the 2021 VGMA Best New Artiste of The Year Mr Drew’s new video, Pains. Lovely music but then I see these beautiful models behind him holding violins and it’s cringy to watch.

As beautiful as it is to see a violin or a violinist, violist, cellist, or double bassist feature for few seconds in these music videos we need to understand that these instruments are not native instruments and there is a way they work.

The aim is to try as much as possible to make these videos turn out as the best not only for the local market but also on the international front. I find it very difficult to watch when I see models who know absolutely nothing about how to hold a violin or a bow, pose with these instruments in a very awkward posture just to sell out the idea that they are violinists.

Yes, we may fool a couple of people here who know nothing about these instruments and would only admire the beauty of them, but let’s not forget that it sends a different picture out there on the international market.

The beauty of this does not just lie in using the instrument as props but it’s in the way they are handled, the way the bows move in the same direction, the posture of the players. Most music video directors do not even know this. If they do, I don’t think they even care.

After all, people only want to see the violins, right? WRONG!

Maybe not many people in Ghana would care but a lot would care outside of Ghana. Even in our neighbouring country, Nigeria.

If we knew how much people in the bowed string communities worldwide critically look at these things, we would not take all these petty details lightly.

There are lots of bowed string players here in Ghana who have spent years of their lives mastering the art of playing. Some even travel from other countries to join the bowed string community in Ghana.

Why not utilize them, whether professionals or students. Allow bowed string players to do what they are good at and leave the models to focus on their modeling.

Whether they are needed for miming purposes or actual playing, it’s always best to go in for actual string players other than models. If you can’t afford professional players, at least go in for the students.

If for me, as a Ghanaian, I cringe at the sight of seeing models with an awkward posture pretending to be violinists in a music video, I wonder the thoughts that run through the minds of others on the international front.

These instruments are very delicate and expensive and so do not expect professional players to just hand them over to you for your video shoots.

Also, you cannot just hand over a violin to a model and teach her to hold the bow and the violin in an appropriate way in less than 10 minutes for a video shoot and expect them to execute it flawlessly.

Something that takes months and weeks for actual players to even get a hang of. Your music videos and studio recordings mean so much to you as these instruments and the art of mastering them means to all bowed string players in the country. If we have to do this at all, then it has to be done well.

The painful truth is that bowed string instruments are not cheap and if you want to include them in your music videos, you should be prepared to pay for them if not, ditch the entire concept.

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