Għana is the generic term for Maltese folksong.
Għana tal-fatt usually only involves one għannej. Nowadays, the singer is often the composer of the lyrics, whereas in earlier times, certainly in the first half of the twentieth century, it was common for għannejja to sing texts composed by others and published in għana booklets. The subject of fattijiet may be tragic or comic and may be based on actual events or the work of the imagination.
Spirtu Pront (quick wit, literally ‘ready spirit’)
Spirtu pront is essentially an improvised song-duel between two għannejja, each trying to best the other in argument. Generally, two song-duels are held simultaneously, the first singer matched against the third, the second against the fourth. Such an arrangement gives each singer more time to compose a response. Usually, the subject of the duel emerges early in the encounter itself, with the singers provoking their adversary.
While the other two styles (Spirtu Pront and Fatt) are driven by verbal play and narrative, għana fil-għoli favours the musical qualities of the voice as the song develops in melodic contours over the regular pulse of the guitar. The prolonged melisma of the words draw the listener along with them, inviting him to stay with the sense and colour of the sound, rather than attempt to follow the meaning of the words.