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Gitara Gasy

Dozzy of N'Java
Photo: Jak Kilby
Dozzy of N'Java
"I also played with Rakoto Frah [the legendary Malagasy flute player, now in the group Feogasy] but his playing hasn't got any key so it is difficult to play with him!"

"The children, of course, refuse to learn what I taught them. They laughed and said: 'What? Is this what we are going to play?' I told them that they could start with that and later on they could always improve their technique."

What does he think of Haja's playing?

"I have heard it but I am not going to learn from him. I have my own pure Malagasy style and he does his in a different way. I really like what he does. He has progressed a lot. I blessed him to wherever he wants to go and wants to be. He is now leading a group. I cannot go anywhere any more because I am old now."

Finally, to the other marovany-style guitarist who European audiences are familiar with - the nimble-fingered Dozzy from the family group Njava (as featured on our cover compilation CD Froots #10). It's back to the south, where we started...

"I play marovany-guitar, and the first time I heard anybody play like this was a long time ago in Tuléar, in 1978. So then I started to listen to the marovany and play in this style. A lot of Malagasy guitarists play like this: in Tuléar you have electric guitar players like Bloko, and I think it started around the early '70s. When I was young I played with a lot of musicians in Tuléar - they are old now - and I think that this style was already there, from say 1972 or '73."

"When I first started to play marovany-guitar, my tuning was an open G [DGDGBD]. All the guitarists were playing in this tuning. Then there was one guitarist I liked, the guitarist of Emmylou Harris, I listened a lot to that music. I've tried to develop, with around 8 different tunings, and I have my own style now - working a lot with the rhythmic pattern. If you play with the katsa [shaker, often a small tin filled with grit, on a short handle], you have to work to understand the patterns."

"I've tried to listen to these Antandroy guys who play the lokanga: it's something special, it's very different from the marovany. I don't want to mix these styles together, but I want to understand them, how the patterns work. It's important to do that. Then, if you play them really clear, not dirty, maybe the European people can understand them too."

This feature first appeared in fRoots 178, April 1998


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