Daqq, Ghana u Zfin Malti, a book about Maltese musical instruments, songs and dance, aimed at the young reader, has just been published. The publication is a concise book full of fascinating information and illustrations giving the reader a good idea of our musical past and rich traditions.

The author, Anna Borg Cardona, has been carrying out research on the history of Maltese music and instruments for several years. She has published various publications on the subject and written a number of articles in various foreign journals.

Speaking to The Times, Ms Borg Cardona said: "I have published detailed articles on individual instruments along the way. However, I felt there was a need for something very basic, which younger readers could relate to. Several students have been requesting information about Maltese instruments for school projects, Matsec projects or even higher-level assignments. I hope that this book will inject into our young some enthusiasm for our musical culture. I hope they will be eager to make a bedbut, zummara or a rabbaba and that they will be captivated by the Maltese lullaby or the wit that goes into good Maltese ghana."

The book, published by PEG Ltd, uncovers a number of instruments that our forefathers played which are slowly becoming a dying tradition. From the cuqlajta to the zummara and the flegjuta and qarn. The author gives a brief history into the origins of the instrument, how it is manufactured and how to play it. The publication is meant to reach today's youth and educate them on their cultural background and traditions.

Ms Borg Cardona feels that today's youth is not conscious enough of these traditions and "we are certainly far from proud enough of our cultural background. I know that in some schools there is a drive to make today's youth more aware of our traditions. I am convinced that is the only way forward, but presenting it in a friendly way is paramount". In fact the publication carries with various colourful pictures of children playing these instruments and other images of traditional song and dance.

In her book, Ms Borg Cardona emphasises the fact that every country has its own 'voice' that is heard from its instruments and songs, and that like these countries, Malta has its own musical traditions and its own voice. She also points out that some of these instruments may be found in other countries across the Mediterranean but most of them are distinctive to the Maltese Islands and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. This is truly a fascinating aspect and something that adds enormous character to Maltese culture and tradition. Therefore educating children in their own cultural traditions is of great importance.

Ms Borg Cardona is concerned that in Maltese schools, music is given minimal importance. "I believe that at present there is not enough pride in our own roots. Knowledge of one's traditional instruments and music is important in education. I don't expect all students to become great performers though there are a few instruments that I am quite sure all will enjoy making and playing just like Maltese children of the past used to. Relating to these instruments and beginning to understand and appreciate the beauty of our traditional ghana will surely lead to a pride in our own culture."

She explained that this book is not only about music and instruments but also about Maltese oral poetry, local traditions and building a connection with our past.

Tradition and culture are important aspects of society that make up the unique character of a country and its people. Losing these traditions would be like losing one's personality. The author explained how some traditions have definitely been lost and "we cannot expect to continue living as our great grandparents did. Society is constantly changing but there is still a place for our music, though perhaps its context has to be modified. Other countries make such serious efforts to preserve their traditions for future generations in a world, which is constantly, and rapidly changing. Just like them, we also have our own music, our own instruments, our own songs and our own dances and we have to do our best to pass on this legacy".

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us