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Ghanafest is a three-day festival of Maltese folk singing (known as Ghana in Maltese). The festival takes place annually in June and has established itself as a wonderful family event complemented by traditional Maltese food. The event is held in the Argotti Botanical Gardens in Floriana, which provides spectacular surroundings for the festival.
Maltese folk singing is categorised into various genres, one of which is ‘Ghana fil-Fatt’, where the singer relates a story of a tragic past event in a series of verses. ‘Ghana Spirtu Pront’ is an improvised duel, where two singers try to best the other in argument by using sharp and witty retorts. The subject of the duel usually emerges early in the encounter itself when the first singer provokes his challenger. ‘Ghana fil-Gholi’ is the genre also known as ala ‘Bormliza’, and features stanzas sung in an extremely high pitch in a manner reminiscent of flamenco folk songs. This style is driven by verbal play and narrative, and favours the musical quality of the voice as the song develops in tandem with the rhythmical pulse of the guitar.
The festival also features a series of performances from folk ensembles using traditional Maltese instruments, such as the ‘zaqq’, ‘zummara’ and ‘flejguta’ as well as accordions, piano and drums and percussions.
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