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Valiha and the music of the Spirit House

Duration:
1 hour
First broadcast:
Saturday 16 January 2010

Lucy Duran continues her journey through Madagascar recording the ancient music of this mysterious island. This week she hears songs that accompany the important exhumation and reburial ceremonies and visits the village of her guide, Justin Vali. Whilst there she hears the delicate sound of the ancestral zither, visits a Spirit House, finds out why you can't whistle after 6pm.

In September 2009, World Routes travelled to Madagascar, the giant Indian Ocean island off the coast of Mozambique - East of the African continent. This mysterious island is full of extraordinary animal and plant life - home to more unique species than just about anywhere on the planet. It's in the grip of political turmoil and its people are some of the poorest in the world. But for us, what makes this island of strange dreams, ancestral worship and sorcery so special is its music. And, like the natural life, its unique evolution - neither African nor Asian - makes it a wonderful melting pot of instruments and styles. Throughout 2010, we'll be broadcasting the recordings we made for World Routes.

Two weeks ago on the programme, Lucy was introduced to the music of Madagascar by Justin Vali and his Malagasy Orkestra. This week she continues a journey of her own to discover some of that music in its true context. She's joined by Justin and a great friend of his; someone he calls his brother. An instrument-maker, musician, producer and - it's fair to say - a Malagasy music fanatic: Paddy Bush (who also happens to be Kate's brother).
Lucy learns about the ceremony of reburial - the bones of ancestors are removed from their tombs every 7 years and danced around, re-dressed and introduced to new members of the family. This joyous occasion is accompanied by uplifting music for flute. Lucy and the World Routes team then travel deep into the high interior. They visit a zebu (the holy cattle of Madagascar) market and record music in the remote and magical village that Justin was born in.

Presented by Lucy Duran
Produced by James Parkin

Music and featured items

20 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Music and the spirits

    Lucy Duran explains the importance of spirits and ancestors on the island of Madagascar.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Rakotozafy
      00:00

      Rakotozafy Tromba Tune

      Performers: Justin Vali & Paddy Bush

      BBC Recording made at the Hotel Victory, Tulear, 14th September 2009

    • Image for Rakotofra Junior Ensemble
      00:03

      Rakotofra Junior Ensemble Pivahiny Mody (The visitors go home),

      Composer: Trad

      Recorded by the BBC outside Antananarivo, Madagascar, Friday 4th September 2009

  • Reburial ceremony and music

    Lucy learns about the role of the music in exhumation and reburial ceremonies.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Rakotofra Junior Ensemble
      00:11

      Rakotofra Junior Ensemble Ory kintana anakitelo (The 3 Stars)

      Composer: Trad

      Recorded by the BBC outside Antananarivo, Madagascar, Friday 4th September 2009

  • Valiha

    Paddy Bush and Justin Vali play a farewell song on bamboo zithers called, Valiha.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Justin Vali & Paddy Bush
      00:14

      Justin Vali & Paddy Bush Veloma (Farewell Song)

      Composer: Trad

      BBC Recording made at the Hotel Victory, Tulear, 14th September 2009

  • Travelling to a village

    Lucy travels to a remote village. She describes the rural conditions on the journey.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Justin Vali and Ensemble
      00:24

      Justin Vali and Ensemble Unknown traditional piece

      BBC Recording made at Ambohimanga Palace near Antananarivo, Madagascar, Thursday 3rd September 2009

  • Fierehana village

    In the remote village of Fierehana Lucy describes a scene reminiscent of centuries ago.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Justin Vali with musicians from Fierehana Village
      00:28

      Justin Vali with musicians from Fierehana Village A traditional piece from the Trano be

      Composer: Trad

      BBC Recording made in Fierehana Village, Madagascar, Saturday 5th September 2009

    • Image for Justin Vali with musicians from Fierehana Village
      00:32

      Justin Vali with musicians from Fierehana Village Afindrafindrao

      Composer: Trad

      BBC Recording made in Fierehana Village,

  • Anchestral Valiha

    Justin Vali demonstrates a traditional ancestral valiha.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Justin Vali
      00:34

      Justin Vali Ancestral Valiha demonstration

      BBC Recording made in Fierehana Village, Madagascar, Saturday 5th September 2009

    • Image for Justin Vali with musicians from Fierehana Village
      00:39

      Justin Vali with musicians from Fierehana Village Rambalamanana

      Composer: Trad

      BBC Recording made in Fierehana Village, Madagascar, Saturday 5th September 2009

  • A Spirit House

    Paddy explains the complex forbidden rules when being in and near a Spirit House.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Unknown
      00:48

      Unknown Unknown - unknown

      BBC Recording

    • Image for Unknown
      00:52

      Unknown Unknown - unknown

      BBC Recording

  • The ritual in a Spirit House

    Lucy describes the scene in the Spirit House.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Unknown
      00:58

      Unknown Unknown - unknown

      BBC Recording

  • Paddy Bush

    Paddy Bush

    Lucy Duran's guide, the musician and instrument builder, Paddy Bush

  • Justin Vali

    Justin Vali

    Musician Justin Vali sings with people from the village where he was born - Fierehana on the high central plateau of Madagascar

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