Writing a song is very much a craft and whatever one already knows about music, from an advanced concept to simple appreciation of a good rhythm, provide valuable material to shaping a good piece.
A well-crafted song is one that sticks into the listeners' mind; a song one can sing even without knowing its words and certainly, one whose tune or beat entices you to tap your feet or get on the dance floor.
To achieve this, some level of understanding and knowledge of music is needed. Not everyone who sings can write music and vice versa. It takes even a deeper understanding of the essence of music to come up with a song that would stand the test of time.
Morris Maulidi's 'Ulendo Wanga' remains relevant today despite being composed about two decades ago and so too is Allan Namoko's 'Lameki', a song that remains true to present circumstances. The passage of time has done no harm to these masterpieces.
However, the present generation of musicians seems to have fallen head over of heels with bubblegum music while others have chosen the easy way out— copying foreign beats.
Gospel musicians are major culprits. They lift songs from hymn books and make them look like their compositions. If the vocals were removed and leave only instrumentals, one can hardly tell whether it is a Malawian musician or South African.
"There are songs you listen to originally done by other musicians but local musicians do not acknowledge that and instead put them as if they are the composers which is wrong," says Musicians Association of Malawi president, Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango.
In the past, Malawi used to pride itself in the great composers in the likes of Mjura Mkandawire, the composer of 'Kunali John Chilembwe' and others.
Ben Mankhamba thinks that most of the country's music is not necessarily music but poems that do not link with the flow of rhythms.
"I see a songwriter as someone who should be able to fuse musical sound and be flexible with the flow of sounds and the articulation of the messages in the compositions," he said.
On the other hand, Mhango said the failure to do own composition has rendered Malawian music useless on the international market.
Seasoned musician Lucius Banda said that Malawi has some talented songwriters but they are not recognised.
"Most musicians who have made it big get their songs from these little-known songwriters at a negotiable price but they fail to acknowledge them," he said.
Lucius' views were shared by artiste Ethel Kamwendo-Banda who pointed out Wambali Mkandawire as one of the musicians up and coming musicians can learn from.
"He is the only musician who has made it big both locally and internationally," she said.
Band leader for Black Missionaries, Anjilu Fumulani, who said his group composes their own songs, concurred with Lucius on raw talent in music composition in the country.
Wendy Harawa, while admitting that Malawi does not have professional songwriters, said she: "I would kill to have Lucius write me a full album" adding that Lucius is a better songwriter than a singer.
"I'm not a good songwriter at all," she said.
Apart from sheer laziness to compose own songs, lack of training institutions in music has worsened the situation.
Currently, only Chancellor College and Africa Bible College train artists but their enrolment is also low and once artists graduate from there, not many venture into music industry.
"The solution is to open more music schools, have international record labels invest in Malawi and introduce music as one of the subjects in schools," Mhango said.
Until such a time when Malawian musicians will stop producing bubblegum music, their hopes and dreams of making it on to the international market will remain mere hopes and dreams.