Cultural Influence On Malagasy Music

By: Nima Ajabshir

Madagascar’s unique geography and location are pivotal factors in understanding the stylistic portion of their music. The fact that it is located off the coast of Africa gives way to the belief that the people who ventured and dared to explore this uninhabited land were the ancestors of the culture that grew there. The arrival of people and the variety of inhabitants gave way to the distinctly noticeable variety to all the music you can find there today. To the people of Madagascar music is somewhere to look for hope and promise; it allows them to find inspiration in their daily lives. The music scene had developed its own individual features that have allowed artists like those later mentioned in this article to become famous in their country. The variety is the main thing mentioned here and definitely the most noticeable when exploring the more popular music throughout the region. Each of these artists mentioned coming up plays into this aura of uniqueness set forth by the assortment of cultures that first arrived at Madagascar and have changed the complexion of the nation today. As each song is played it is quite easy to note why Madagascar has paved the way for opinions of individuality as it has. Below are a few of the featured musicians popular in Madagascar, if one goes to the links placed by each musician one will be able to hear a little sample of what the music has to offer. Here one will be able to identify with what is mentioned throughout this article as “unique” and “diverse” cultural styles that help compose the essence of the music that compiles Madagascar’s musical segment. There are influences from throughout different regions of the globe that help create what you are listening to including Southeast Asia, France, Africa, England, Arabia and the United States. The music is known as “Malagasy” music, when one mentions music of Madagascar the proper term is “Malagasy.”

Mily Clement

Cultural Fact: “When he began his career in Amilobe as a guitarist, he played nothing but American music and African music. In 1988, he joined Jaojoby, but as a drummer after he lost a large part of his guitar-playing” -Courtesy Calabash Music-

Click to Listen to Mily Clement


Cultural Fact: “This research helped him become one of the most astonishing international guitarists; a musician sought after by guitar enthusiasts the world over for his unheard-of playing style and his wild open-tunings.” -Courtesy Calabash Music-

Click to Listen to D'Gary


Cultural Fact: “They produced a compilation titled A World Out of Time, which captures the unique Madagascar blending of musical cultures from South Africa, the Middle East, and India, making music that sounds like no other.” -Courtesy Calabash Music-

Click to Listen to Feo-Gasy

Regis Givaso

Cultural Fact: “Ever since his arrival in Europe the same year, he's been seen by the side of musicians of every genre: jazz, Oriental, African, variety.” -Courtesy Calabash Music-

Click to Listen to Regis Givaso


Cultural Fact: Jaojoby joined a group called Players, who traveled widely and incorporated other African and Indian Ocean sounds, such as kwassa-kwassa, sigoma, and sega. -Courtesy Calabash Music-

Click to Listen to Jaojoby

Below is a picture of instruments utilized in “Malagasy” music, each of which has its own features and can be identified in the music of past and present. The instruments in “Malagasy music,” have been either adopted or created in Madagascar below is some of the instruments previously mentioned in the instrument section but they are on display because the origin is identified.


(Valiha origin – Southeast Asia)
(Kabosy origin – Arabic)
(Mandolina origin – Italy)


(Sodina origin – Arabic)


(Ampongabe origin – Africa, the Comoros, Malaysia, India and Muslim countries)
(Atranatrana origin – Southeast Asia)

The instruments displayed above are not the only ones used to create “Malagasy” music today; however, they are pieces that have been adopted in Madagascar thru other origins and cultures they have been either customized or kept the same in “Malagasy music.” The influence previously mentioned of different regions of the globe have had a major influence on the usage of these instruments in many of the pieces heard. The main thing to note is without all of the influence of culture and past inhabitants of Madagascar the music heard today as listed above would not be possible.

References for Cultural Influence on Malagasy Music

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License