Fast-paced rhythmic music is heard everywhere in Madagascar. Kids
sing for money on the street. Overloaded mini buses, known as taxi-brousses,
have sound systems that play Malagasy music at high volume as they
bounce along dirt roads. People listen to and sing music as they
work and play. Valihas, traditional stringed instruments made from
long, thick bamboo logs, are used by many bands, though often with
new steel strings and electronic pickups. Modern instruments, like
electric guitars, and musical styles like hip hop and reggae, have
been incorporated into Malagasy music to produce a blend that is
exotic and familiar at the same time.
The Feo Gasy Band
Feo Gasy, which means "voice of the Malagasy," was founded by Rakoto Frah,
a legendary and beloved traditional Malagasy musician. Rakoto Frah died in
2001, but his group survives, still singing in the style of Madagascar's
central highlands region, backed with traditional Malagasy instruments.
Its five members, Nini, Fafah, Kolibera, Benny, Bariliva, agreed to be
photographed and recorded performing and describing their instruments.
They were joined by Linda, a music teacher and accomplished player of the