Live from Dar es Salaam: Popular Music and Tanzania's Music Economy

Live from Dar es Salaam: Popular Music and Tanzania's Music Economy

Live from Dar es Salaam: Popular Music and Tanzania's Music Economy

Live from Dar es Salaam: Popular Music and Tanzania's Music Economy

Synopsis

When socialism collapsed in Tanzania, the government-controlled music industry gave way to a vibrant independent music scene. Alex Perullo explores the world of the bands, music distributors, managers, and clubs that attest to the lively and creative music industry in Dar es Salaam. Perullo examines the formation of the city's music economy, considering the means of musical production, distribution, protection, broadcasting, and performance. He exposes both legal and illegal strategies for creating business opportunities employed by entrepreneurs who battle government restrictions and give flight to their musical aspirations. This is a singular look at the complex music landscape in one of Africa's most dynamic cities.

Excerpt

Music is research into the essence of things.

—REMMY ongala

On a warm July afternoon in 2005, I walked with friends in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. As we neared the center of the neighborhood, we heard drumming and singing coming from a sandy field where local children play soccer throughout the day. It was unusual to hear music in the middle of the afternoon, particularly on a workday. After a few minutes, we found a crowd of a hundred people encircling a group of traditional ngoma musicians and dancers engaged in performance. the group used cylindrical, hand-made drums and sang but also added a whistle in the style of the popular Congolese rumba artists that perform in the city’s nightclubs. the songs were about health issues, and the male singer gave advice on ways to take care of oneself. During a break in the singing, a mixed group of men and women in matching outfits began to dance. Their steps were based on a traditional ngoma called mdundiko with many added variations drawn from contemporary dance routines. the crowd watched with great interest as the dancers took turns showing off their moves before returning into choreographed patterns that followed the drum rhythms. For an afternoon, it was a wonderfully entertaining and educational break in the day.

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