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Valiha player in Ambohimahasoa.jpg
Valiha orchestra at the Paris World Exposition of 1931.

The valiha is a tube zither from Madagascar made from a species of local bamboo; it is considered the "national instrument" of Madagascar.[1] The term is also used to describe a number of related zithers of differing shapes and materials.[2]

Aside from recreational music, the valiha is also used for ritual music to summon spirits.[3]


The valiha generally has 21-24 strings. Historically these were formed of strips of the bamboo body, prised up and raised by small bridges, but in the modern day the strings are often made of unwound bicycle brake cable, though serious players may use standard guitar or piano strings.[4]

Historically the instrument was made of the bamboo Valiha diffusa, but in the modern day "bamboo species with longer internodes" are used.[5]

A variant instrument, the marovany, is similar in concept but boxlike rather than tubular, and made of wood or sheet metal.[4]


One of the most celebrated valiha players of the twentieth century is Rakotozafy (born 1938).[6] The majority of Rakotozafy's few recorded performances were made live at the central studio of Malagasy Radio. Sylvestre Randafison is another celebrated valiha artist considered a cultural icon in Madagascar.[7]

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