Select Page

Madagascar News Forums The Transformation of Antananarivo Reply To: The Transformation of Antananarivo


Queen Rasoherina baptized on her deathbed, dies Catholic. Ranavalona II and Ranavalona III, they, become Protestant. When Radama II turns away, the Catholic and Protestant missions unite their efforts to react against the tendency to too much frivolity. They compose hymns appropriate to the taste of the Merina, but stamped with a certain respectability.
Catholics or Protestants, they are especially choirs with two, three or four mixed voices, whose rhythms and melodies must be abundantly provided with thirds, sixts and singing bass, strongly in honor at Les Malgaches. “It was especially during the reign of Ranavalona II that religious music won the favor of the people,” said organist Marie-Robert, chapel master of the Catholic Cathedral of Antananarivo.
The sovereign, the first to be converted to Christianity, loved the new religion, Protestantism, which she practiced with ostentation. Every evening, she goes to the chapel, a stone building in the south of the Manjakamiadana Palace. Three groups of singers, led by three famous conductors, perform pious songs followed by sermons. The prayer ends with a “Hymn to God to preserve the queen”.
Like Ranavalona II, his subjects become “more religious” and “the popular music which undergoes this influence, acquires more weight”. Following the example of “Tsangambaton-dRatsida” (Monument of Ratsida) or “Tsy tany babo i Soanierana” (Soanierana is not a captive land). This last song, according to Marie-Robert Rason, does not lack grace. Moreover, it reflects the optimistic character of the Malagasy who prefer, the major mode for interpreting their feelings in the various phases of life.
Another, rather a march, “Avy taiza ianareo,” is performed by the queen’s band when she goes to Ambohimanga, a sacred city, or to Tsinjoarivo, a royal summer residence.

Two sentimental romances or songs, real tubes under the last two queens, are also reproduced by the organist. This is called “Ny lakantsika” and “Miera kely aminao aho ry dada ô!” (Allow me my father, to go for a walk on the banks of the Itasy …).
At the same time, popular music gained considerable momentum, especially thanks to the Mpilalao. These folk groups consist of an orchestra comprising three to four violins, a drum, a bass drum and a group of men and women who are both singers and dancers. They are dressed in long robes, or long coats for men, with gaudy colors, red or mauve, with broad sleeves covered with braids and embroideries. The men are wearing a broad-brimmed straw hat. The meeting opens with a large kabary of the chief, in which, after having presented himself in pompous words accompanied by strong gestures and contortions, he solicits the benevolence of the public. Then, he summarizes in a harangue enamelled with proverbs, the subject that songs and dances will develop.
At this address a drum roll followed. The chief made a great gesture. Immediately the orchestra began the prelude, during which dancers and dancers, lambed them around the loins, marching with a step which they strive to make majestic before the spectators, forming a circle. The chorus singing the singing, the dancers respond in chorus in two or three parts. The songs follow the dances, first the men, then the women. A public or private party can not do without the Mpilalao contest.
Marie-Robert Rason summarizes the second period of Merina music. “European music, the compositions of Radama II, religious music have certainly brought new inspiration, but originality has lost. The technique of simple that it was, becomes more complex and more varied, the rhythm being more classic and more symmetrical. Inspiration, on the other hand, broadens its horizons. “The Malagasy, with its natural dispositions in imitation, can only welcome with eagerness everything that must, in astonishing it by its novelty, furnish him with themes different from those he has hitherto treated. He did not hesitate to adopt a greater lightness than encouraged the softness characteristic of the manners of that period. “