Ravalomanana Fenoarivo Gara, Hira Gasy from Madagascar!

I have been told that I have a tendency to abuse superlatives, that I overenthusiastically describe every recording I get excited about as 'the best ever'.  True as that may be, this Malagasy cassette is objectively fantastic.  This is a live recording of a Hira Gasy performance by Ravalomanana Roberson's group from the town of Fenoarivo, located on the east coast of the big red island.

Hira Gasy (hira: song, gasy: Malagasy) is a performance tradition that includes music, dance, and stylized oratory.  The roots of Hira Gasy reach back to the late 18th century courts of the Merina royal families from the highlands of Madagascar.  Today, due to the genre's popularity in the capital city, it's capacity to integrate influences from other regional styles, and promotional efforts by tourism officials, Hira Gasy has been adopted as Madagascar's 'national music'.

All Hira Gasy performances follow a similar structure, with five main sequences; an introductory musical interlude, an oratorical performance announcing the theme of the day's performance (the roots of Hira Gasy are in political speeches and most performances still have a social or political theme), a song performance that builds on the themes of the speech, a dance sequence, and a concluding performance.  More details here.

This recording is an hour long and seems to include most of the segments listed above. It sounds like the recording was made with a few microphones held by the singers.  The voices push into the red but the singing is glorious.  According to google translate the theme of this performance is 'Every day has its' trouble'.  This performance was recorded in 2002.  At least two more performances by Ravalomanana Roberson and his troupe have been released on the Malagasy market.

Download Ravalomanana Fenoarivo Gara

I unfortunately don't know anything about Ravalomanana Roberson's career and the phone number I have for him no longer works.  This cassette was produced by LT Production, a company owned by Ramilison aka Dadafara that seems to specialize in Hira Gasy music.  I did get Ramilison on the phone but I don't speak any Malagasy and he doesn't speak French.

This lovely video gives you a sense of the ambiance of a Hira Gasy peformance.


  1. Agreed - this tape IS objectively fantastic! Delightful stuff - thanks for sharing!


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