MALTESE KITARRINA

FOLK & RITUAL

The Mediterranean Sea was a means of connectivity providing the Islands with a constant exchange of musical ideas and instruments. We find several folk instruments in common among the Mediterranean people, particularly wind instruments.  All early instruments were connected with some form of ritual that was of great importance to man who was dependent on his harsh environment and on the unpredictable elements.

Among the exhibits we can see instruments that migrated around the Mediterranean and Europe. The Arab Ud (Maltese għud), European lutes, liras, guitars, mandolins, all relate this complex story of migration, adoption or adaptation of instruments in different cultures. The guitar is one of the instruments that has comfortably established itself locally in both folk music as well as art music. Though timber was not readily available on the Islands, its importation and the building of stringed instruments were certainly taking place from earliest times.  The first known lute and guitar maker is recorded in Valletta in the latter part of the sixteenth century.  Stringed instrument building has remained central to Malta’s folk singing (għana). Through the centuries it has been variously accompanied by lutes, violins, liras or guitars. At present, locally-made guitars or even foreign ones with added local touches are all known as kitarri tal-għana.