Traditional / folk music of Madagascar
Madagascar is the fourth large island in the planet in south east part of Africa in Indian Ocean. It is said that the first human came to Madagascar with canoes from Indonesia around 500 CE. Later Africans were arrived to Madagascar too. Arabs came through Comoros. In 19th century there where three kingdoms shaped in the island and they were defeated by French. So Europeans and Christianity also came. This lead to complex culture and traditional music. The term of traditional or folk Malagasy music is referred to different genre of folk music which is different in each region but has common roots in rhythms and styles.
So, diverse culture and music which met in an island, evolved in isolation. Today more than 100 folk music instrument has been listed in Madagascar. Some are also common in other region and some of these folk instruments are just specific to Madagascar. For example, oud is a traditional instrument with Arabic origin or Mandolin which can be found in south and south east of the island can be find in many other countries too.
Madagascar has about 18 ethnic groups. Folk music of Madagascar has been influenced by some of these ethnic groups more than others. Merina and Antemoro are two big ethnic groups. Their music was also under the European influence. Valiha is the main voice of Madagascar traditional music which belong to these two ethnic groups but today it is played in all Madagascar. It is a 16 string lute instrument with a sound the same as harp. Marovany is another folk instrument and cousin of valiha. Kabosy is a guitar style instrument with 4 to 6 string. It is common in some highland specially between Betsileo ethnic group. Sodina is another folk music instrument in Madagascar. The origin of this traditional music instrument can be found in south east Asia islands. Rakoto Frah is considered as greatest sodina player from Madagascar.
Another important folk music instrument in Madagascar is Lokanga. It is a three string fiddle instrument. Lokanga is also very popular between many different ethnic groups. Lokanga, originally may came through Africa main land.
Some other important ethnics influential groups are Antandroy in the south and Antakarana in the north.
The traditional music of Madagascar also consists of huge vocal and rhythmic traditions. Complicated vocal and rhythmic lines came from Africa mainland. In the past two hundred years, this vocal tradition was also under the influence of European church music.
All types of this folk music performed in various events and occasions and it is strong part of daily like Malagasy people. Usually traditional musicians are self-taught. They learn the folk music in their family by listening and orally. There is no music school for them and they develop their own music by themselves.
Today the modern or popular music of Madagascar based on these rich varieties of styles and instruments. One of the popular genres in Madagascar is Salegy. Modern Salegy mostly developed by Eusèbe Jaojoby, a Sakalava singer from Antsiranana. He is also known as “king of salegy”. This genre of music is funky and energetic and the main instrument is electric guitar. The root of this genre and more traditional way of playing it can be seen in the music of Mama Sana which played vahila.
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Traditional / folk songs for Madagascar
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