Accepted Paper:

Contemporary roles of sound culture among the Gogo society, Central Tanzania  


Tadasu Tsuruta (Kindai University)

Paper short abstract:

The Gogo, agro-pastoralists in Tanzania, have their distinctive melodic and harmonic structure, lamellophones and women’s drumming. The decline of traditional sound performances after independence caused the emergence of semi-professional sound groups.

Paper long abstract:

The Gogo are agro-pastoralists living in a semi-arid area in Central Tanzania. The Gogo-land is a draught prone region where agriculture is problematic because of low and erratic rainfall. Gogo people are also known for their distinctive sound style, including a unique melodic and harmonic structure, the use of large lamellophones, and women's drumming. Traditionally, most genres of sound culture were associated with specific social events, including farming and livestock-keeping. Aside from genres performed for specific rituals and for recreation, there were genres associated with rain-making or cattle disease. These traditional sound performances declined especially after independence, when modernization changed rural livelihood in Gogo-land. Some genres have completely disappeared, while others are still performed, adapting themselves to changing contexts.

Recently, there have been two major developments in Gogo sound organizations; the emergence of semi-professional sound groups, and the advent of church-based sound groups (especially women's groups). These two types of organized performing groups still preserve some distinctive characters of traditional Gogo sound culture, although there have been considerable changes in social contexts of performance. They are invited or hired to perform on various occasions, including weddings, funerals, political campaigns of the ruling party, church congregations, and communal rain-making ceremonies. Based on the fieldwork in a Gogo village, I examine the multiple roles played by these sound culture experts in a rural community, through the analysis of social contexts of their performance and song texts.

Panel P135
Sound cultures of Africa (CLOSED)