Ghana – Traditional Maltese Folksong

Għana is generally sung by two or more singers called għannejja, who seat themselves at two opposite ends of the stage, retorting answers to each other in rhyme, usually without any planning or meditation. Għanneja vie with each other during this kind of singing, which involves satire and puns, often dealing with the faults of character of singers themselves, or of the characters or situations they are singing about. The singing involves musical accompaniment by one or more guitarists. The lead guitarist is called ‘il-Prim’. Between each stanza of għana, the lead guitarist plays il-prejjem, in which he or she shows their skills at guitar playing.


The tunes are somewhat wild and meandering, but they also involve a certain kind of romantic beauty and harmony. As the singing starts, the audience tries to follow all the words being sung closely. Clarity of expression in the performance is expected out of every għannej. Moreover, the audience also expects singing to include the correct rhyming and a theme which is maintained throughout the song.

There are various types of għana. The ‘spirtu pront’, which is the most popular type, consists of short stanzas, normally sung by a group of two or more singers. This type of folk singing takes place in the form of a duel. This generally involves two styles of singing. The first one is called ‘the hitting back’. Four singers are involved; the first singer sings with the third person, while the second singer sings with the fourth one. The second style is known as the ‘impromptu reply’, and is normally done between two singers. While the first singer starts on his first two lines, the second singer continues the rest of the stanza, creating an interlocking melody. It is normal practice for the singer who finishes the last two verses to start the next stanza. This is called ‘għana maqsuma’, or ‘għana bil-qasma’, which means broken or shared singing. The spirtu pront and the għana bil-qasma require a great deal of quick thinking as well as the ability to rhyme. Singing usually lasts for an hour and comes to an end with a ‘kadenza’, which has two or more stanzas.


Another type of għana is the għana tal-fatt. This consists of a long and elaborate narrative in verse form. It is called ‘tal-fatt’ because its theme usually deals with a particular deed, event or legend. The theme most dealt with is the lives of well-known local personalities or a sensational or tragic event. Sometimes, it also deals with a humorous topic, but the most popular theme is the gruesome details of a murder or crime.

Today, Għana singers are prestigious, since it takes skill and a considerable talent to be able to do so well. In Malta, għana and traditional folksongs are sung at festivals, fairs and tourist centers, as well as cultural events. Each June, the Malta Arts Council organizes a two-day music festival centered on Għana called the ‘Għanafest’.

Ghanafest 2012

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Lost Syd – Ode to Syd Barrett


Sad eyes filled with sea
disarrayed hair that always spoke to me
a husky voice – all those cigarettes,
the scratchy beard, the daring bets

Where is that chilled campari dear?
Or that sultry look behind your fear
If dreams had lips with which to weep
they’d dribble darkness and go to sleep

That willowy feyness clamoured for more
no strength, no breath for a last encore
naked and cold, I give you my back
you know what I need, you know what I lack

Time is cruel, ripping and mindless
the merciless wind is crippling and sightless
Give me the musk of those deserted years
take back the emptiness, take back the tears

Where are those arms, terrified and wild
Where is your wrath, hollow like a child’s?
Only the blues remain, mumbling, leering,
behind the clapping, beneath the cheering.


10 Days to Ireland!!

Yes, I started a countdown!! I really can’t wait!

My bf said he just emailed to book somewhere nice to go and dine for my bday while we are there and it re-awakened all the hectic joy and fizzywig madness of my frenzy. I LOVE IRELAND!!!

The countryside, the warmth of the people, the Celtic background, the bright pagan lurking behind a thin veneer of ‘normality’. Each time I hear someone with an Irish accent or that typical thick bass, like melted honey on dark bread, I just want to swoon, shiver and orgasm at the same time.


Ok – trying to calm myself now. Seriously ;p

So, we are leaving on Saturday 6th and will be there around 6pm and after we grab our luggage, dashing straight to the Academy in Dublin to watch SABATON!! Koorpiklani and Tyr will open for them!! Oh the joy! Ireland + Heavy Metal!!


For the uninitiated, Sabaton is a Swedish heavy metal band whose lyrical themes are based on war and historical battles. The car’s CD player must be sick of them by now since we’ve played the albums so much. The other two bands are also quite famous – one being a Folk Metal band from Finland and the other having Vikings and Norse gods as their primary subject matter. It will be a night to remember!

I guess by the end of it we’ll be really and truly mashed potatoes. But it will be worth it, and I’ve really no right to complain even one tiny teensy little bit. First of all because it is a part of the most awesome bday present ever, and secondly because the present-giver is going be worse off than me.


My poor poor cuddly bf has to drive for hours and hours each day (we rented a car to be able to sightsee more), but he says he likes it as it offers him an opportunity to enjoy the country in another way. That will give me time for naps, not to mention reading! Already compiling a small book list (yes for going to Ireland… lol… thank all the Gods I am taking some big luggage).