Tag Archives: Valiha



Name: Valiha.
Type: Chordophones > Zithers > Tube > Idiochords.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 312.11
Country: Madagascar.
Region: Indian Ocean.

Description: The valiha is a tube zither from Madagascar made from a species of local bamboo [valiha diffusa]. It is considered the “national instrument” of Madagascar. Aside from secular music, the valiha is also used for ritual music to summon spirits

Etymology: The name ‘valiha’ is also used to describe a number of related zithers of differing shapes and materials.

Tunings: Generally the valiha is tuned in a diatonic scale. The tuning and scale are dependant on the length of the tube used for the valiha. My instrument is tuned to D so the scale comes out as a D major diatonic D / E / F# / G / A / B / C# / D.

Construction: The valiha generally has 21-24 strings. Prior to the use of bicycle brake wire or other similar metal for strings. The strings from the valiha were carved from the same piece of bamboo the instrument is made from.  They cannot be replaced if they are broken. Small bridges cut from gourd raise the strings at a particular height from tube to string. Today valiha’s are strung with guitar and piano strings of the correct tension and diameter may also be used.

Citations: Bibliography: Bruno Nettl 1985 – The Western impact on world – change, adaptation, and survival. Schirmer Books. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-02-870860-7 ; Garland Encyclopedia of World Music ; The Concise Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Routledge. pp. 123–. ISBN 978-1-136-09570-2 ; Hans Austnaberg 2008 – Shepherds and Demons: A Study of Exorcism as Practised and Understood by Shepherds in the Malagasy Lutheran Church. Peter Lang. pp. 158– ISBN 978-0-8204-9717-4. Elijah Wald 2007. Global Minstrels: Voices of World Music. Taylor & Francis. pp. 62–. ISBN 978-0-415-97930-6 ; Dominique Louppe 2008 – Plant Resources of Tropical Africa: Timbers / ed.: D. Louppe ; A. A. Oteng-Amoako. General ed.: R. H. M. J. Lemmens …. 7. 1. PROTA. pp. 573 – ISBN 978-90-5782-209-4 ; American Lutherie: The Quarterly Journal of the Guild of American Luthiers. The Guild. 1993. p. 22 ;