Two years ago I shared one of my favorite Malagasy cassettes, a howling recording of Hira Gasy. This post brings us back to Madagascar and features another fantastic recording of Hira Gasy. Unlike the aforementioned cassette, this recording captures an entire Hira Gasy performance, the recitation, a vocal choir, violin interludes, and a brass band finale. This recording was likely made on a hand-held digital recording device. You can hear musicians moving in and out of the musical foreground, audience chatter, and occasional gusts of wind.
As in many participative musical events, moments of intense focus are followed by slack passages, where the ensemble drifts while they regroup for the next ensemble performance. If I have listened to this recording a dozen times this week it is because of the ensemble singing. The ensemble vocal passages are among the most committed performances I've heard: imagine if the great Conjunto Bernal was a vocal sextet. (Do you know Mi Unico Camino?, this song is on my shortlist of forever music.) The snares rattle, the horns bleat, the audience hollers, and the whole thing makes my heart race.
This is, yet again, another recording about which I know nothing. I don't know where or when this recording was made. I don't know anything about the performers. Who is Raveloson? Is he the leader of the group? The narrator who drives much of the performance?
I don't even remember where I found this recording.
Take an hour out of your day and travel to the central highlands of Madagascar.