He manages to create a whole range of instrumental sounds with one acoustic guitar
Modeste Hugues has been playing guitar since he was 15 years old when he took an interest in his neighbour’s guitar, and then went on to build his own in a local workshop.
Even though he had to use fishing line for string and had to hold it very close to hear the sound, he persevered and discovered his love for all things musical. He “soaked in the sounds of the bush, the birds, whistling of the shepherds in the hills... any sound that appealed to [his] sense,” he admits.
I had the honour of catching him play for free at the Djanogly Concert Pitch, outside the Lyttelton theatre in The National Theatre. Hugues describes his music as being “unique to the Betroka region of Madagascar where it’s influenced by all the traditional sounds of the area together with some softer South African dance rhythms.”
As a spectator, I found his no frills performance captivating, as did many others, as a crowd drew round, the more he sang..
With one acoustic guitar, he manages to create a whole range of instrumental sounds, which makes it hard to believe that he is a self-taught musician.
The music was extremely relaxing and if you are not familiar with Madagascan music, it has a strong sense of afro charm enthused with slight Latino rhythms.
The best thing about Hugues is his voice though; listening to him play is a pleasure but listening to him sing is an honour. He has a beautiful, lilting voice, which connects well with the calmness that surrounds him.
Although he is a very gentle man with a very soft speaking voice, he managed to captivate many of the crowd for his full 1hr and 15 minutes set.
To learn more about this BBC Radio 3 artist, please visit: www.modeste.co.uk.
By Fiona Madden