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Hira Gasy and Court Music

Lucy Duran visits the island of Madagascar and presents music from the 18th-century Malagasy royal court and the rarely recorded dramatic story-telling tradition of Hira Gasy.

Lucy Duran visits the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar to discover its remarkable music. She is joined by guides Justin Vali and Paddy Bush and hears the ancient music of Madagascar's royal court as well as the extraordinary and rarely-recorded Hira Gasy. Hundreds of villagers gather to hear a variety performance which spreads news, entertains and teaches people a lesson.

Presented by Lucy Duran
Produced by James Parkin

Available now

1 hour

Music and featured items

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  • Madagascar's ancient court music

    Justin Vali and Paddy Bush describe the royal court music of Ancient Madagascar.

    Duration: 07:08

  • Music Played

    • Rakotozafy

      Tromba Tune

      Artists: Justin Vali & Paddy Bush

      • BBC Recording made at the Hotel Victory, Tulear, 14th September 2009.
    • Malagasy Orchestra

      Ariva Mody Masaondrao

      Composer: Traditional

      • BBC Recording made at the Le Paille en queue Hotel, Tulear 10th September 2009.
    • Justin Vali and Ensemble

      Afindrafindrao

      Composer: traditional

      • BBC Recording made at Ambohimanga Palace near Antananarivo, Madagascar, Thursday 3rd September 2009.
  • The ancient Malagasy king and his instruments

    Paddy tells the history of a royal fort and the ancient Malagasy king’s instruments.

    Duration: 04:05

  • Music Played

    • Justin Vali and Ensemble

      Mahagaga

      Composer: Traditional

      • BBC Recording made at Ambohimanga Palace near Antananarivo, Madagascar, Thursday 3rd September 2009.
  • Message from the ancestors

    When a song is interrupted its believed to be a message from the musicians ancestors.

    Duration: 07:16

  • Music Played

    • Justin Vali and Ensemble

      Miangaly

      Composer: traditional

      • BBC Recording made at Ambohimanga Palace near Antananarivo, Madagascar, Thursday 3rd September 2009.
  • Changes in Madagascan music

    Paddy explains how the bicycle and a gift from Queen Victoria changed Madagascan music.

    Duration: 08:24

  • Music Played

    • Justin Vali and Ensemble

      Blue Sky

      Composer: traditional

      • BBC Recording made at Ambohimanga Palace near Antananarivo, Madagascar, Thursday 3rd September 2009.
  • Justin Vali plays The Valiha

    Justin Vali and his ensemble play a song on the Valiha, a traditional bamboo zither.

    Duration: 04:55

  • Music Played

    • Justin Vali and Ensemble

      Izahay sy Malala

      Composer: Traditional

      • BBC Recording made at Ambohimanga Palace near Antananarivo, Madagascar, Thursday 3rd September 2009.
  • Hira Gasy

    Lucy visits the home of the Hira Gasy, who give a dramatic performance.

    Duration: 09:00

  • Music Played

    • Ambohimandrosao

      Don't criticize others; look at your own life first

      Artist: Tarika Rasoasimanga Berthine Ambohimandrosao

      • BBC Recording made just outside Antananarivo, Friday 4th September 2009.
  • Hira Gasy's message

    Lucy and her guides discuss the messages presented in the Hira Gasy’s performances.

    Duration: 11:21

  • Emotional power of the Hira Gasy

    Lucy discusses the emotional power the Hira Gasy’s performance.

    Duration: 05:41

  • Music Played

    • Rakotofra Junior Ensemble

      Ory kintana anakitelo (The 3 Stars)

      Composer: Traditional

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

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