Unraveling the relation between Mandarin tones and musical melody = 旋律中的声调

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Abstract

It is physiologically impossible for the same set of vocal chords to simultaneously produce two distinct and different pitch contours. Thus when singing songs from a tonal language such as Mandarin, it is likely that there will be conflicts between articulation of the linguistic tone and the articulation of the musical melody. Envisage for example, a syllable that is linguistically specified for a rising tonal contour being associated to a melody requiring a falling contour or a flat contour. In such a situation, satisfaction of the melody would result in incomprehensibility of language. The reverse is equally devastating since then song would be totally superfluous. Nonetheless, a survey of Mandarin songs indicates that linguistic tones are often not faithfully preserved in tune, consequently giving rise to the question on how listeners are able to decipher the words that are sung. This paper argues that the crux of the matter lies in the identification of two elements, headship in music and headship in linguistic tones. A head, in music or language, is a special position where the features of the residing element are prominent. In essence, it is the preservation of contrasts between prominent features at these special positions that listeners of Mandarin songs are able to reconstruct the lyrics from partial segmental and tonal information.

汉语声调有认字辨意的作用,所以要理解汉语或运用汉语,辨认调值是很重要的。人只有一副声带,在歌唱中必须靠它来表达旋律线条,也必须靠它来发出正确的声调。试想,一个调形上扬的音节配上下抑或者平坦的旋律线的情形。在这种环境下,保留旋律线则辨认字会有很大的困难。反之,保留调值则违反了歌唱的基本意义。可是,事实上唱腔与字调经常没有完善的对应。这便是演唱中所必然涉及到的腔词关系。本文通过对十首歌曲腔词关系的比较,发现旋律中字调调值的保留有赖于﹕(i)确认旋律线中主要音位位置﹔(ii)通过语言学音系学确认字调声调线条的主要特征﹔(iii)旋律层中的各个音高对比,必须反映出歌词层中的字调对比。
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-144
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Chinese Linguistics
Volume35
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chinese tones
  • Chinese songs
  • Tone-tune correspondence
  • Phonology
  • 汉语声调
  • 汉语歌曲
  • 腔词对应
  • 音系

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