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Our songs and other people’s songs

Music and identities in a lutheran diocese in Tanzania

Lampinen Leena

In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT), singing in a choir is a popular activity, and there are many choirs of different kinds within its parishes.  In this study, the focus is on church choirs and choir conductors (walimu wa kwaya) within the North Central Diocese of the ELCT in the northern part of Tanzania. The central question of this research is: In what ways are choral repertoires involved in the formation of diverse identities within church choirs in a Lutheran diocese in Tanzania? The main theoretical concept employed in this study is that of identity, which I approach from individual, social, and group aspects. In addition to the differentiation between individual, social, and group, identities can be further labeled according to the context to which they are related, which in this study includes religious, ethnic, and national viewpoints. All the aforementioned sides of identity are related to music sung by church choirs of the North Central Diocese. The selection of choral repertoire is a process through which walimu and other people involved in repertoire-related decisions influence the image that a choir presents of itself. It is a way of defining who they are, who they are not, and/or who they would like to be. On the other hand, the identity of a choir influences the repertoire selection. In this study, the choral repertoires consist of old and new materials, local and global influences, our songs and other people’s songs, and they are intersections of personal, group, musical, religious, local, and ethnic identities.

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