In Madagascar, the valiha is classified as a traditional musical instrument. I chose this instrument because I am particularly fond of the sound it makes and of its tubular shape. I have already listened to this instrument on television and in concert. There are various types of valiha but the one I am going to describe is the valiha toritenany.

The valiha originated in Southeast Asia (Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam) before the birth of Christ. Its name comes from the word vadya, which means a sacred musical instrument. The valiha toritenany is the first type that existed in Madagascar. It is made from a bamboo stick with knots at distant intervals. Its length is around 1.2 m with a diameter of about 10 cm. Fibres are wound in a regular fashion around the cylindrical tube, the number varying with the maker. This one has both ends wrapped with a kind of tightly wound tendril or vine. There are one or two movable pumpkinwood bridges under each end with which players can tune their instrument. The valiha has a weak sound so to intensify its resonance and produce a shriller tone, the maker winds the valiha strings in metal. These are called valiha jihy-vy. The valih Read More
In Madagascar, the valiha is classified as a traditional musical instrument. I chose this instrument because I am particularly fond of the sound it makes and of its tubular shape. I have already listened to this instrument on television and in concert. There are various types of valiha but the one I am going to describe is the valiha toritenany.

The valiha originated in Southeast Asia (Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam) before the birth of Christ. Its name comes from the word vadya, which means a sacred musical instrument. The valiha toritenany is the first type that existed in Madagascar. It is made from a bamboo stick with knots at distant intervals. Its length is around 1.2 m with a diameter of about 10 cm. Fibres are wound in a regular fashion around the cylindrical tube, the number varying with the maker. This one has both ends wrapped with a kind of tightly wound tendril or vine. There are one or two movable pumpkinwood bridges under each end with which players can tune their instrument. The valiha has a weak sound so to intensify its resonance and produce a shriller tone, the maker winds the valiha strings in metal. These are called valiha jihy-vy. The valiha that currently exist are made of tin.

The valiha can accompany all instruments; it can be played as a solo instrument or played in groups for folk, traditional popular, contemporary popular and modern music. In the royal era, the valiha was reserved for the use of the nobility. But that did not prevent slaves from developing their own talent and familiarizing themselves with the instrument despite the threat of punishment from their masters. Out of fear, they pretended that they did not know how to play. Sometimes, however, their skill was even greater than those of their masters.

The valiha is also played during family events, such as second burials, in concerts or for religious festivals. The instrument is held either between the legs or under the arm, it is played with both hands and plucked by the fingers. However, the most talented players no longer pluck the strings but brush them very lightly. The valiha has a simple tonality and can play lead or accompaniment.

These days, valiha makers give each of their instruments a name depending on the shape they choose. For example, the valiha in the shape of a suitcase is called a valiha vata and the one in the shape of a dugout canoe is called a valiha lakana. The bamboo section has sometimes even been lengthened to build a huge or giant valiha.

A chromatic valiha has been created as a result of technical development of the instrument, in recent times.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Valiha Toritenany

Valiha toritenany

Asia

Museum of Art and Archeology of the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar

Bamboo with strings built into the body, raised by small bridges made of gourd. 2 thong hoops (zebu)
1,20 cm x 8 cm to 10 cm
© Museum of Art and Archeology of the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar


Valiha Toritenany 2

Valiha toritenany

Asia

Museum of Art and Archeology of the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar

Bamboo with strings built into the body, raised by small bridges made of gourd. 2 thong hoops (zebu)
1,20 cm x 8 cm to 10 cm
© Museum of Art and Archeology of the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar


Valiha Toritenany: Audio

Valiha Toritenany: Audio

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Centre des recherches et études andalouses, Centre des musiques arabes et méditerranéennes Ennejma Ezzahra, Musée de la musique, Laboratoire de recherche des musiques du monde, Musée acadien de l'Université de Moncton, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Musée d'art et d'archéologie de l'Université d'Antananarivo, Musée ethnographique Alexandre Sènou Adande, Musée national du Mali, St. Boniface Museum, Lycée de langues étrangères Alexandre Dumas, Museum of the Romanian Peasant

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Understand that music is an expression in all cultures
  • Understand that the relationship between personal feelings and music transcends borders and cultures
  • Develop respect for music from a variety of cultural contexts
  • Examine traditional music practices in selected Francophone countries
  • Demonstrate geographical awareness by identifying Francophone countries
  • Be aware of the musical contributions of various cultural groups in their own community
  • Understand that all world music can be organized within a standard classification system

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