Anna Borg Cardona writes:

Those who knew Indri Brincat, Il-Pupa, knew him as a humble, soft-spoken gentleman, always ready to share his knowledge with anybody showing an interest in his work. He will, however, be remembered in the field of Maltese folk music primarily as a landmark in guitar playing and as an innovative luthier.

Indri was very much sought after by Maltese folk singers (għannejja) for his guitar playing. Between the quatrain of one għannej and another there is generally a guitar interlude, which gives the lead guitarist (prim kitarrist) the opportunity to create his own personal improvisations, known as prejjem. This is where Indri Il-Pupa excelled, creating his own innovative, intricate variations on established Maltese melodies. He believed that the guitar should be played only with the fingers, as opposed to with a pick, but he produced a style of prejjem that had never been heard before.

Prejjem can of course be played solo, without the inclusion of għannejja. In this case, the guitarist has more time and space for expansion. Indri relished in these performances and was duly noted. The younger generation of guitarists (daqqaqa) watched and listened and have fortunately learnt much from his many performances over the years.

Back in 1954, Indri was proud winner of the Mnarja Folksong competition presented by the Agrarian Society, then under Ġużè Cassar Pullicino, Ġużè Aquilina, J. Camilleri and Giuseppe Casapinta. He was at that time singled out by them for his "most varied and melodious style". A photo of the occasion proudly hung in Indri's workshop together with a showcase of other cups, rows and rows of tools, photos of departed għannejja and guitarists, pictures of his many different guitars and all kinds of memorabilia.

Indri was also noted by foreign ethnographers and ethnomusicologists such as Marcia Herndon, Norma McLeod, Micheline Galley and others. Ġorġ Mifsud Chircop had presented a programme about him on TVM, which I do hope has been preserved in the PBS archives.

There were several recordings made of his playing, among them those on Rediffusion, radio and television, some of which have survived in the PBS archives. Three LP recordings were also made in England where Indri formed part of the group Viva Malta, which was touring with Charles Coleiro in the 1970s.

This, however, was not all. Indri was also one of the leading luthiers on the island. He mended and made a huge number of guitars but, here again, he did not stop at making only the conventional guitar. He went on to create his own different shapes. He defied the norm by giving the sound box extended projections, rounded shapes, or even waisted rectangular bodies. Most għana accompanists own and play one or other of Il-Pupa's guitars.

Indri has now moved on to a better place. He has, however, left behind a rich legacy of prejjem, which have strengthened Maltese folk music and which have been absorbed by the younger generation of daqqaqa. He has also left us a number of guitars that will continue sounding their sweet melodies for a long time yet, not only in Malta, but also among għana enthusiasts in Australia, Canada and America.

He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

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