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


“The Hova have always had remarkable musical dispositions and their music has been an oil stain in Madagascar, imposing itself on the other, more frustrated and warlike tribes, all of whose rejoicings consisted of ringa , A kind of dance rhythmic by the sounds of tamtams. “
However, Marie-Robert Rason, organist and master of the chapel at the catholic cathedral of Antananarivo in the 1950s, notes three clearly defined periods in the evolution of purely merina music. The first encompasses the first nineteenth-century kings, Andrianampoinimerina, Radama I and Ranavalona Ire, that is, until 1861. The second begins from Radama II until the end of the monarchy, crossing the reigns The latter, Rasoherina, Ranavalona II and Ranavalona III. And the third period coincides with the French occupation (from 1896 to 1958).
During the first period, music, purely Malagasy, is discovered in Imerina,
“Simple, monotonous and religious”. It reflects the worship and respect that the people attach to their masters and sovereigns elevated to the rank of demigods. “It is music with a free rhythm, free from all accidents, and which has for motive only calm and piety, music still in the embryonic state which, having undergone no foreign influence, flows limpid and serene for Express feelings. “
Under Andrianampoinimerina and his son Radama I, tradition does not bequeath,
He said, of popular songs. They are so busy making war on their neighbors that they have no right to promote the development of the arts. Their main aim is to extend the kingdom and develop the land. “Natural consequence: the people terrorized by continual troubles and absorbed by incessant labor, had little time to devote themselves to music. “For to cultivate this art full of difficulties and for the inspiration
Flourishes in all its freshness, it is necessary an atmosphere of calm and serenity.
With the peace observed at the various points of the island during the first years which follow the advent of Ranavalona I, the hatching of songs is seen. According to Marie-Robert Rason, in order to decorate her court, the sovereign subsidizes two illustrious women, Raivomahatana and Rasoanotadiavina – soon Raivodosy comes to join them – to form the “Mpiantsa” or royal singers. The latter, in all public manifestations, must sing in chorus before the royal procession.
The author recounts a scene where Ranavalonamanjaka is lulled by the “Mpiantsa” who interpret the “Hymn to the Queen”. Seated in her palanquin, under an enormous parasol of scarlet velvet, Ranavalona listens to them delighted. About fifty, these royal singers, dressed in a long robe down to their ankles, their heads clasped in a red handkerchief, their right hand waving a scarf in ovation, repeating animato, sketching A slight movement of dance, this melody tirelessly intoned by the chorus.
“In front of them, to the sound of a marine conch, blows with rage a manner of herald; About thirty men, with their heads wrapped also in a sort of red turban, an enormous loincloth around their loins, grow at intervals guttural and strange cries, perform dances that would have nothing to envy the American rhythms today, hui. “
It should be pointed out that at the beginning of his reign Ranavalona I was pampered by his subjects who did not miss an opportunity to celebrate it by various hymns in his honor.
“It was from this time that the whole Madagascan music took its rise. Excerpts from old airs spread throughout the island that are transmitted by the generations, prove it. Moreover, the Malagasy use their “natural impetus” to compose, sing, improvise, dance. From then on, festivals, family reunions, joyful or sad events, are the occasion for songs. “To the point that, one might say, music for the Malagasy people is to his life what water is to rice. She is a faithful companion in all circumstances of life, her joy in feasts, her consolation in distress. “