Tube zither from the highland plateau of Madagascar, made from a species of local bamboo, with 21 to 24 metal strings arranged lengthwise around a long bamboo tube. Each of the strings has its own individual moveable bridge for tuning, and the instrument is usually tuned diatonically. Historically the instrument was made of the bamboo Valiha diffusa, but in the modern day “bamboo species with longer internodes” are used. It is considered the “national instrument” of Madagascar.
The sound produced by the valiha is part balalaika, part classical guitar, and part zither. Played by Paddy Bush on the songs Love and Anger and Eat The Music, and by Justin Vali on the songs The Red Shoes and Eat The Music. The valiha played by Paddy Bush is box-shaped rather than tubular, with strings on two sides, and about four feet in length; this instrument can be seen in the video for Love And Anger.
Kate about the Valiha
It’s a beautiful sounding instrument – it looks a bit like a Zither, and it’s from Madagascar. It sounds like sunshine – it has this really happy, bubbly sound. (What Katie Did Next. International Musician, December 1989)