Description: The valiha is a tube zither and it is classified as a plucked chordophone. Arriving to Madagascar since 2000 years ago. It has been thought that the Valih has arrived from South East Asia. In Madagascar the valiha is considered a national symbol of unity. Since many similar tube zithers are found in places like Borneo, Vietnam and the Philippines. In these regions of South East Asia today these bamboo tube zithers are still used to communicate with spirits. The oldest type of valiha are constructed entirely out of bamboo this includes the strings. In tonality the bamboo-strung valiha are very different in their sound to their steel strung counter parts. If one of the strings break that string is irreplaceable. The valiha was valued as a musical instrument of great spiritual and ceremonial reverence amongst the Razana (ancestors) and the aristocracy. The valiha was played during the hira-gasy musical events amongst the Merina people who inhabit the highlands of Antananarivo. In the southern plateaus of Madagascar the Bara people call it the manibola. The Bara people regarded the Valiha as a ceremonial musical instrument and it was played during spiritual possessions. This practice of the valiha being used during spiritual ceremonies is now largely replaced by the accordion. Since the 19th century the tuning of the valiha is currently a diatonic scale.
Anatomy of the Valiha: The valiha is constructed from a wide tube of bamboo approximately 15.2 cm diameter. The selected bamboo is cut around 10 cm from the node upwards. The original valiha's and their strings were carved from the same piece of bamboo. Two sound holes and a slit are cut into the instrument where the sympathetic string is placed over. Two moveable bridges carved from gourd are placed underneath each string, thus allowing flexibility for tuning the valiha. Recently in the 20th century the valiha is re-strung metal strings this may include the use of steel wire, guitar strings or bicycle break cable depending on size diameter of the instrument. The valiha usually have around 10, 17 to 19 strings and one sympathetic string who for resonance. All of the strings are attached with a single nail to hold each string in place. Then water buffalo hide is wrapped around where the nails are for aesthetics. The ornamentation on the surface of the valih is hand-burned often with a piece of heated wire.