1997 – 2005

Ever since his first visit to Tanzania in 1989, Sigbjørn Nedland had been trying to help musicians establish a studio in Dar Es Salaam, as there were no quality studios at all in the city. In 1997, with the help of the aid organisation Strømme Foundation and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Nedland Kultur was able to establish Marimba Studio, the first digital multi track studio in Dar Es Salaam. At the time the only options were very basic four or eight track cassette studios that could not deliver good sound. With Marimba Studio the possibility was established for musicians in Dar to document their music in a proper way.

The studio was established in the Ilala district of Dar Es Salaam, in a quiet residential area, and for years numerous recordings were made here, both of local bands and artists, and of international productions. Strømme foundation and Nedland Kultur, with financial support from NORAD, entered into a partnership with the musicians’ association CHAMUDATA to establish the studio. The Norwegian Embassy to Tanzania was very supportive, and came to play a vital role also in later developments in the history of the studio.

Negotiations about the establishment of the studio and what role the different partners were to play, took place at the premises of CHAMUDATA (below left), and at the Norwegian Embassy (below right)

Keppy Kiombile (above), bass player with Kilimanjaro Band, became the first Tanzanian sound engineer in Marimba Studio

The studio had a simple, but well functioning setup: A Yamaha mixer (Model O2R), two Tascam D88 recording units and a rather good selections of microphones. There were no sound engineers to be found in Dar Es Salaam that could operate the equipment, so Marimba Studio became a training ground for sound engineers. Nedland Kultur and Strømme Foundation brought Norwegian sound engineers to Dar, who worked with Tanzanians in the studio, transferring knowledge about recording techniques, and picking up knowledge about African music and instruments. Keppy Kiombile very quickly became an accomplished sound engineer, and went on to educate a whole new group of Tanzanian studio engineers in Marimba Studio, many of whom are still active, and running various studios in Tanzania.

In many ways it could be said that the Marimba Studio marked the start of a new era in music recording in Dar Es Salaam. Now Tanzanian musicians, bands and artists had a chance to document their music in a proper way, and take up competition with neighboring countries like Kenya, which had always had better studio facilities than Tanzania. With the old four and eight track cassette studios, recording quality did not give the artists a chance to show how good they really were, and their music did not sound good enough to compete with foreign music. Now this started to change. Lots of Tanzanian musicians and bands came to Marimba Studio to record: Dance bands and pop bands, rappers, church choirs, even a group of young boys from a neighboring mosque came and recorded recitations from the Koran. The studio was also used for several collaboration projects between European and African artists, so lots of exchanges of music, styles, knowledge and techniques took place at Studio Marimba.

Left: A choir conductor, and a singer from a church choir posing with two of the musicians who did several recordings in Studio Marimba: Anania Ngoriga and Esrom “Bob” Rudala.

Below: A church choir from Haydom, pop/jazz musicians from Dar, and a techno/pop duo from Norway in Studio Marimba.

Presentation of Studio Marimba on the home page of Music In Africa.