Title

Melodic Language and Linguistic Melodies: Singing in Tone Languages

Streaming Media

 
Media is loading

Document Type

Video

Publication Date

11-1-2017

Keywords

Music, Tone Languages, Nigeria, Yoruba, Igbo

Culture

NGA (Nigeria)

File Name

131101_NGA_CarterEnyi_MelodicLanguagesLinguisticMelodies.mp4

Playing Time

5:27

Abstract

Approximately 60% of the world’s languages are tonal, wherein alterations of pitch change the meaning of words. Two-syllable words in Yorùbá can have as many as five separate meanings, and single- syllable words in Mandarin up to four. Among tone-language speakers, acute pitch sensitivity is developed at an early age as part of language acquisition. The result is that speakers of tone languages are generally more sensitive to pitch than stress-language speakers. For speakers of stress languages, it is difficult to conceive of this other aurality, in which sound is perceived in a different way. But music holds the key, giving insight into tone languages and the cultures that communicate through them.

Not all melodies from tone-language cultures accurately represent the contours of speech, but many folk songs and linguistically-determined melodies do. Such songs are an effective tool for teaching and learning the concepts of spoken pitch contours. Musicians have musical fluency and more pitch- sensitivity than non-musicians, and thus, have a head start in this process. Expressing an interest and developing a modest understanding of the nature of tone languages is an effective outreach for music educators to many under-represented groups in American society, including Native Americans and immigrants from Africa and Asia. Music can illuminate the unique features of the world’s languages and cultures, engaging our broader, global community.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Rights Statement:

This video is in copyright. For more information or to request a use not granted under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License (CC-BY-NC), please contact Aaron Carter-Enyi (aaron.carterenyi@morehouse.edu).

Share

Article Location

 
COinS