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Music From Hira Gasy

In Madagascar, the spoken word nurtures a specific kind of performance called hira gasy. Born a few centuries ago on the High Lands, it has been passed on orally, from one generation to the next, among families that have ensured its continuity. It is said to be “a drama of the daily life”. The hira gasy texts relate to mythical thinking and therefore the Malagasy religion. It is a deeply-rooted cult of ancestors, one of the pillars of Madagascan thought. Drama and oratory, singing, mime, music and dance compete to make up an original folk opera. A fabulous opera, invented, perpetuated and enriched by artist-peasants, who cultivate rice for six months of the year and perform for the other six months , notably on such occasions as the famadihana (reversal of the dead), the exhumation rite which takes place periodically and seems to have no equivalent in any civilisation.