« Program: Hip Deep in Madagascar: The Tsapiky Story

Tsapiky Video Playlist

Tsapiky [tsa-PEEK] music is an electric guitar-driven dance music from the Tulear region in southwest Madagascar. It is mostly played at large family gatherings in the countryside, sometimes a wedding or circumcision, but most often a funeral. These multi-day ceremonies require tsapiky bands to play day and night, an incredibly grueling proposition. The result is a kind of collective, ecstatic trance.

But tsapiky also has another life as a recorded music, often one that is accompanied (and spread) by video clips. The recordings and clips are effectively advertisements for groups who are available to play ceremonies- a good clip can mean more work for these hard hussling bands. We’ve put together a playlist of YouTube videos that illustrate various aspects of tsapiky music. Enjoy!

1. Rasoa Kininike with Pascal on guitar, 2007

Rasoa Kininike with Pascal on guitar, from 2007. This group was one of the first to make crossover tsapiky songs that found an audience well beyond the relatively poor and rural Tulear region. The video starts with an image of someone taking off a record of music from the central highlands, and switching to the local sounds of tsapiky.

2. The group Dedake with “Manekiteky”

The group Dedake with “Manikiteky.” Not a group that’s had any international exposure, but one that is very popular on the ceremony circuit. This is a fairly typical commercial tsapiky video, created order to get ceremony gigs. DVD’s containing these videos are sold in marketplaces throughout the region.

3. A tsapiky ceremony

This video depicts a tsapiky ceremony, a funeral. The music isn’t live- the autotuned vocals give it away as a studio recording.  The group playing is not even identified. But the video gives you a good idea of what these ceremonies look like- not too bad, essentially!

4. kininike dance demo

Here’s a demonstration of the characteristic dance move of tsapiky, known as kininike. As you can see, it involves rapid, isolated, rotation of the buttocks. The key is to keep everything else perfectly still. No surprise this video has 30,000 hits!

5. A tsapiky lesson with Damily

Want to try your hand at playing tsapiky guitar riffs?  You could do worse than this video lesson with the great tsapiky guitarist, Damily. Of course, seeing his moves doesn’t mean one can play like him, but Damily does a nice job of breaking it down.

6. Setting up for a tsapiky ceremony

This video shows a band setting up for a tsapiky ceremony ( known asa mandriampototsy). From improvised wiring techniques to speaker placement in the trees, we see the resourcefulness and hard work that precedes the party!

7. Damily live

This video was posted in 2008, some years after Damily left Madagascar to live in France. It shows the two sides of his professional life, playing ceremonies back home as he did during his early career, and playing a club in Europe, as he does these days with his band.

8. Accordion tsapiky

Accordion music is one of the commonly cited origins of tsapiky. These days, there are some famous accordion ensembles—mostly out in the countryside—who are renowned for their tsapiky. Here, the accordion assumes the role of the guitar, moving through a series of fast, repeated melodic phrases as the energy rises.