90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:

Snapshots of Daily Life
Youth Nation
Beliefs: Rites of Passage
Beliefs: The Sacred in Nature
Music: Tunes from the Trees

Burney Expedition

First fossa encounter
Modern conservation movement
Mysterious extinction
2,000 years ago
Agricultural practices
Preserving the forest
Vital trainline
Trainline destroyed
Trainline Music Video
A new species
Rugged terrain

Home > Island People > Music: Tunes from the Trees

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 valiha.

Valiha: The Sacred Instrument
Linda, a music teacher and performer, describes how to play this Malagasy stringed-instrument.
The Poor Man's Piano
Feo Gasy musician Kolibera speaks about the origins of guitar music in Madagascar.
Songs and Solidarity
The a capella tributes to the forests and disease prevention.
Street Music
The up-tempo musical productions of two young Malagasy street musicians.

About | Biodiversity | Human Impact | Island People | Last Stand | Other WBUR Journeys: Antarctica / Greenland
©Copyright Trustees of Boston University