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©Ambiance musiques et spectacles|Emmanuel Virin

Réunion Island musical instruments

to play sega or maloya

Le folklore réunionnais

Reflected by a mixed population, Réunion Island’s music and dance were born from the meeting of several peoples (from Africa, India, Madagascar and Europe) who shared their artistic traditions and instruments. Visit the museum of Indian Ocean music and instruments in Hell-Bourg, in the Cirque de Salazie. It’s worth the detour!

Some Réunion Island musicians use instruments that they have made themselves with the most rudimentary recycled objects (wooden crates, old containers (fèrblan), empty tin cans (mok)). The instruments generally used in traditional maloya are essentially percussion instruments: bob and cascavel, kayamb (raft rattle), roulèr (bass drum), piker (bamboo cylinder struck with two sticks), sonbrer and sometimes triangle. All these instruments form the rhythmic base with the soloist’s voice and the choir for the melody.


Long confined to sugar estates, maloya was originally a musical expression sung, played and danced by slaves. Maloya today takes more and more varied forms, both in terms of lyrics and instruments, and is gradually entering the World Music field. A new generation of composers and performers, will give a new lease of life to the maloya which has propelled itself on the international scene and combines with other rhythms, especially reggae, rock, jazz.
Maloya has been classified as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity  since 1 October 2009.

The maloya and séga actually have common roots, the same jerky, two-beat rhythm, a rhythm marked by the kayamb and roulèr, two traditional percussion instruments. The term “séga”, reclaimed by the local bourgeoisie, found its place in colonial society, which applied it to creolised parlour songs and dances. This popular music with a joyful spirit also has a place in the heart of Reunion Islanders, the “piquéséga, traditional séga or “lace” séga is danced in couples.

LThe story has just begun!

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