Live from Dar es Salaam

Live from Dar es Salaam

Popular Music and Tanzania's Music Economy
Alex Perullo
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/27/2011
Format: Paperback 35 b&w illus., 1 map, 47 video
ISBN: 978-0-253-22292-3
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Finalist, 2012 African Studies Association Ogot Award

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.

Author Bio

Alex Perullo is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and African Studies at Bryant University. He has published in Africa Today, Popular Music and Society, Ethnomusicology, and several edited volumes.


“Explores the world of a complex music landscape after the collapse of socialism gave way to a vibrant and independent music scene in one of Africa's most dynamic cities.”

“The extensive research for this book provides valuable insight into Tanzanian culture. Live from Dar es Salaam discusses our history and examines current radio stations, performances, recording studios, and music education. In reading this book, young people will learn about what their elders did in the past, and elders will remember those things they took part in. In addition, this book will become a road map for the next generation to use in order to learn about Tanzanian popular music. It is a very important book that illustrates the past, present, and future of Tanzanian music.”
 — Remmy Ongala

“This isn't just a book about Tanzanian popular music. It's a compendium of everything one could wish to know and more about Dar es Salaam's performance life, and an ethnographic tour de force that offers an insider's trip to the sweaty heart of an African capital's music scene, without having to go there. The social economy of post-independence Dar es Salaam is painstakingly interwoven into an account of every style, trend, and movement in the city's imaginative life from every angle. Perullo's achievement will set the standard for studies of popular culture in urban East Africa for decades to come.”
 — David B. Coplan, University of the Witwatersrand

“Scholars interested in the popular music of urban Africa will welcome Alex Perullo's Live from Dar es Salaam enthusiastically. Perullo's comprehensive examination of a city's musical life is lively and compelling, and readers will be impressed by the breadth and depth of the author's description and analysis. ”
 — Ethnomusicology Forum

“Live from Dar es Salaam . . . takes on the challenge of examining Tanzania’s popular music in the context of that country’s shift toward capitalism. The book offers insights into the multi-sided challenges of neoliberal globalisation, and opens new avenues for thinking about the often-imbalanced demands neoliberal globalisation places on African musicians.”
 — Popular Music

“Alex Perullo has written an ethnography that is as comprehensive as it is enjoyable to read. ”
 — Africa

“The case [Perullo] makes for Tansania's music economy as one of the most thriving in Africa . . . and an example of Africans making things happen for themselves, is well documented and convincing. . . . Through Perullo, we are given a unique insight into the manifold uses of art and artifice by which people shape their own lives in an African city today.”
 — Tanzanian Affairs

“Alex Perullo focuses on the creative practices Tanzanians in the music economy in Dar es Salaam utilize as they try to make something of a living in difficult economic times. Perullo also shows how music in Tanzania transitioned from work to a commodity as the country itself moved from a socialist to a capitalist political–economic ideology.”
 — American Ethnologist

“The book displays the author’s encyclopedic and deep knowledge of Tanzania’s music economy. It contains rich ethnographic descriptions and persuasive arguments, and would be valuable to anyone interested in the contemporary music scene in Tanzania.”
 — African Studies Review

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Table of Contents

Note on Names and Interviews
Video Clips in the EVIA Digital Archive
1. Kumekucha (It is Daylight/ Times Have Changed)
2. Shall We Mdundiko or Tango?: Tanzania’s Music Economy, 1920-1984
3. Live in Bongoland
4. The Submerged Body
5. Radio Revolution
6. Analog, Digital... Knobs, Buttons
7. Legend of the Pirates
8. Everything is Life
A: Descriptions of Tanzanian Genres of Music
B: List of Tanzanian Radio and Television Stations
C: Clubs with Live Shows in Dar es Salaam
D: List of Tanzanian Promoters Organized by City


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