Maltese culture, l-Ghana

Ghana has been the backbone of Maltese folklore having acted as a form of entertainment for the working classes in the past..

The typical Maltese tradition of Għana (pronounced 'ana') involves singing and musical accompaniment. Tracing its roots back to the times of the Knights of St John, this art was practised by housewives during their chores, and labourers playing their trades. As time went by, the art evolved to include more formal constraints of rhythm and rhyme, but remained associated with the working classes. Today, Għana is still practised, but has ceased to be a part of everyday life and now remains the preserve of professionals entertaining the masses.

The Għana appears in a number of different forms, but the most popular is known as the Spirtu Pront (roughly translated to 'Improvisational'). This format comprises two singers who engage in a lyrical duel. The singers exchange verbal attacks while sticking to an established format of rhyme and verse. Typically, this singing battle will be accompanied by a group of guitarists, with the lead guitarist (or Prim) having an occasion to demonstrate his skill through a solo between the stanzas. This type of Għana has created a number of local legends known for their singing ability and, equally important, impromptu lyricising.