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Title: Interrelation of Lexical Tone and Melody in Mandarin Language Lyrics
Authors: Crabtree, Blaine
Advisors: Rolle, Nicholas
Department: Independent Concentration
Certificate Program: Translation and Intercultural Communication Program
Class Year: 2019
Abstract: When lyrics in a tonal language are sung, there is significant potential for conflict between the frequency contours of the linguistic tones of the lyrics and the melody of the song. In some tonal languages, songs are composed in a way such that the general distinctions between linguistic tones are preserved in the melody, as in Cantonese, for instance (Chan 1987). In others, such as Ewe, linguistic tone does not appear to impact melody (Agawu 1988). It has been suggested by several studies that lyrics in Mandarin belong to the latter category, and that linguistic tone is ignored in the composition of songs (Chao 1956, Chan 1987, Schellenberg 2013). However, a corpus approach to tone-melody interrelation in Mandarin language songs reveals that while there are not rules as strict as those for lyrics in other languages, there are some basic patterns suggesting that tone is not ignored in text-setting (the association of lyrics with a melody. In this investigation, I will examine a corpus of popular music with Mandarin language lyrics, to identify what patterns of tone-melody interrelation are present, how these patterns may vary according to parameters such as genre and whether or not the lyrics have been translated. I hypothesized that these patterns would be determined by the final pitch height of the lexical tones of the lyrics (either high or low), as suggested by Wee 2007. However, in general, I find that these patterns are determined more by the presence or absence of a high component in the tones of the lyrics, setting syllables with tones having a high component to notes higher than neighboring syllables without a high component, supporting the findings of Chan 1987.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Independent Concentration, 1972-2020

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