Just Sing What You Want to Say: The Importance of Linguistic Tone in Bai Songs

Date:
2012
Abstract:
The Bai people, a minority group in the People’s Republic of China numbering at least 1.6 million, live mostly in the Dali Autonomous Prefecture in northwest Yunnan. Historically, Bai from the central region would gather annually at the base of Shibaoshan Mountain to sing partner style love songs in search for a suitable marriage partner; today, this time is marked by a three-day festival officially titled “Shibaoshan.” The annual song competition invites skilled singers to spontaneously compose melodies in response to their counterpart, crafting lyrics to flatter or tease their singing partner. The study quantifies the close relationship between Bai linguistic tone heights and melodic pitches. Qualitative research uncovers whether this aspect of Bai songs guides singers’ choices or methods in spontaneously composed songs. The closely matched relationship between linguistic tone and melodic pitches implies that new songs must retain this feature in order to be acceptable and perhaps intelligible to Bai hearers.
Extent:
104 pages
Subject:
Bai
China
Jianchuan
Linguistic Tone
Minority Music
Shibaoshan
Spontaneous
Country:
China
Subject Languages:
Content Language:
Nature of Work: