Maltese Folklore Music

Maltese Folklore Music

Għana is a term given to a type of traditional Maltese folk music.

Originally used to pass the time during hours of recreation or whilst completing household tasks, Għana was in the past mostly practiced by women singing on rooftops by conversing with each other using rhyming song.  It was a way of gossiping while they were doing household work and to pass time.

A typical Maltese quatrain features a four-line poem or stanza with each verse entailing mostly eight syllables. Most Għana verses are something between a Sicilian ballad and a rhythmic Arabic tune. It is still one of the main sources of popular folk entertainment. It takes however, years of practice before someone can effectively combine lines and melody.

Covering a wide range of poems, għana is sung accompanied by guitarists. Since then, Għana has also been used as a form of argument. Whether serious or humorous, it can still be used as an expression of clarity nonetheless.

Since then, a new generation of folk singers and guitarists have added a touch of modernity to this art form and raised the standard of Għana performances. The Maltese Calypso is a perfect example of Maltese folk music. This song is composed of several verses and is often played in bars accompanied by guitar. 

A popular example of a modern local folk group is the band Etnika. Using a number of traditional instruments such as bag pipes and horns, the group reinterprets traditional Maltese musical forms and adapts them for a modern audience.




Did you know?

  • The famous eight-pointed Maltese Cross symbolizes the 8 obligations of the Knights of St John: Truth, faith, repent of sins, humility, justice, merciful, sincere and enduring persecution.
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