The Rough Guide To The Music Of Madagascar

San Francisco (California), USA – The Rough Guide series travels to
the island of Madagascar. The Rough Guide To The Music Of Madagascar (RGNET1163CD)
was compiled by Ian Anderson, editor of fRoots magazine, who has personal
connections to the island through his marriage. The album includes a rich
number of Malagasy styles such astsapiky, kalon ny fahiny and salegy. Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, has incredible ethnic diversity
and rich history. The Rough Guide To The Music Of Madagascar features music across the broad Malagasy
spectrum from
the island’s spicy dance music to the purest music from the highlands. Featuring
the valiha (a tubular
bamboo zither) and lokanga (three-stringed fiddle), among other instruments
specific to the island,
this album explores the diverse Malagasy culture that has been influenced by
Arab, Persian, Chinese,
Indian and European societies over the years.

In 2001,

were voted by Time magazine
as one of the world’s ten best
bands. Led by Hanitra Rasoanaivo, they formed in 1994 and left Madagascar as an
unknown new band developing
a unique mix of roots music and instruments. Their live act and hard-hitting
songs were honed to perfection with
extensive touring and, by the late 1990s, they had become huge stars back home.

Songwriter Hanitra has more
recently been involved in the project entitled

, which gathered together
musicians, writers and singers from
all over the island in hothouse collaborative sessions in the capital
Antananarivo. The resulting album was released
in 2004 and `Era’ also features percussionist Pana and the extraordinary
guitarist Haja and his bassist brother

The mighty king of salegy (a driving 6/8 electric dance band music),

‘s live band, which features
a number of his grown-up children including his son on lead guitar, can rival
most outfits from mainland Africa for
energy, drive and tight groove.

If Jaojoby is the king of salegy, the Toto
Mwandjani is the master of dombolo. A
talented guitarist, he played with many contemporary acts before releasing his
own hit album Malemylemy, in
2001. His band fuses the local dombolo, salegy and malesa with East African,
Congolese and even touches of zouk

Madagascar’s best accordion player,
won Radio France
International’s Decouvertes and
emigrated in 1990, where he worked with Manu Dibango and Ray Lema before finally
launching his solo career.

Tarika have influenced many bands to combine tradition and modernity and there
are now plenty of groups
following this model, such as the excellent one led by hard-working valiha


The valiha is
Madagascar’s best-known traditional instrument (a tubular zither made from
drainpipe-diameter bamboo with
around twenty-one strings) and this album also features the late, great valiha
Sylvestre Randafison from
Ny Antsaly. Ny Antsaly became the island’s first traveling musical ambassadors
in the 1950s and 1960s, playing
in exotic locations for the crowned heads of Europe and this is their first ever
appearance on CD.


is a stunning player who has evolved a complex style based on
the sound of the marovany and
the lokanga, and many consider that he surpasses most mainland African acoustic
guitar greats.

Led by big bass
mandoliny (a small guitar also known as kabosy) player, Thominot Andrianjafy,
Hazolahy have taken driving
kabosy band street sounds and local dances and pumped them up with percussion,
other local traditional
instruments and tight vocal harmonies into an exciting relentless style.

Another Vakoka musician, marovany (a
wooden box with two sets of strings on opposing sides) player Monja traveled
widely playing sacred music for
tromba (spirit exorcism) ceremonies before settling in Antananarivo.

An additional marovany player, Daniel Tombo’s
multi-talented group, Troupe Valiha, demonstrate the super-fast proto-rap jijy
vocal style on `Taraka’.

around the virtuoso lokanga playing of Surgi, Vilon’Androy use typical harmonies
and the pattering, fast stepping
rhythms that imitate the sound of the running feet of the notorious maleso
cattle rustlers.

The Rough Guide To The Music Of Madagascar also features Teta, one of the best
current tsapiky guitarists, Ny
Sakelidalana, a veteran group who perform in kalon ny fahiny style, Mahaleo, who
fuse Western soft rock with
Malagasy traditions, and Koezy, five young dynamic women from Sakalava.


The Rough Guide to the Music of Madagascar

Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central