Summary Diagram of Various Symbols in Miao Musical Notation


  • Summary of Unique Symbols Specific to Miao Musical Notation
  • Summary of Symbols Similar or Identical to Those in Simplified Notation

Key Signature (调号)

Besides the notes, the musical score includes specific Miao notation symbols, which are similar or identical to those used in staff notation and simplified notation. The following explanation will decode various symbols in Miao notation and compare them with simplified notation.
In Miao notation, the key signature is also represented by uppercase English letters, but with a unique difference: a Miao character is added after the letter. The pronunciation in the Miao language for this character is “shàng,” which is equivalent to the fourth tone in Mandarin Chinese (上), translating to “key” or “tone” in English. The key signature is positioned below the song title on the left side at the beginning of the song, similar to its placement in simplified notation. The style and differences are as follows:

除了音符之外,乐谱上还有专门的苗文谱记号,与五线谱和简谱相似或者相同的记号。下面将对苗文谱的各种记号进行解析,并与简谱进行对照。
苗文谱的调号也是用大写英文字母表示,不同之处是在字母后面加上一个苗文字,苗语的发音是(shàng ),苗语发第二声,相当于汉语第四声(上),翻译过来就是(调)或者(音)。调号记在歌名左下方,歌曲开头的左上方,跟简谱的位置一样。二者的写法和区别如下:

  • Basic Key Signature (基本调号)

The basic key signature in Miao notation adds a Miao character for “tone” after the letter representing the tonic note’s pitch. For example, in the “Miao Wen Song of Praise,” the key signature is located to the left of the song number, just as it is in simplified notation as showed in below:

基本调号就是在代表主音音高的英文字母后面加上苗文的音(调)字。《苗文颂主圣歌》的调号都是在歌曲序号的左边,与简谱相同。谱例如下:

Comparison of Miao Notation and Simplified Notation is as follows:

把苗文谱与简谱进行对比如下:

  • Flat key signature (降号调)

The flat key signature is indicated by a small ‘b’ placed at the upper right of the letter that represents the tonic’s pitch, denoting a semitone decrease. This small ‘b’ is similar to the flat sign used in staff and simplified notation as showed in below:

降号调就是在代表主音音高的英文字母右上方子母小b表示降半音,这个小b和五线谱简谱的降记号近似。如下图所示:

Comparison of Miao Notation and Simplified Notation is as follow:

把苗文谱与简谱进行对比如下

From the above, four characteristics can be observed:

  1. Miao notation still uses English letters to indicate the pitch of the key signature.
  2. Its flat sign is denoted by the lowercase letter ‘b’, similar to the key signature marking in simplified notation. This might be due to typographic or printing reasons, as no specific symbol for denoting a semitone decrease was found, thus using the small ‘b’.
  3. The flat sign indicating a semitone decrease is placed at the upper right of the uppercase letter, whereas in simplified notation it is generally placed at the upper left of the letter.
  4. Simplified notation only includes the note name without adding the words ‘tone’ or ‘key’ after it. In Miao notation, the Miao word for ‘key’ follows the note name.

把苗文谱与简谱进行对比如下

  1. 苗文谱的调号音高依然是用英文字母。
  2. 它的降记号用字母小(b)表示,跟简谱的调号标识相同,也许是排版印刷的原因,没有找到专门表示降半音的符号,因此用小(b)。
  3. 其三表示降半音的降记号标注在大写字母的右上角,简谱一般是标注在字母的左上角。
  4. 其四简谱只写音名,不会在音名后面再加上“调”或者“音”字。苗文的调号在音名后面加上苗语的调字。
  • Difference Between Flat Key Signature and Lowering a Pitch by a Semitone

In Miao musical notation and simplified notation alike, the tonic of the key signature is represented by an English letter, and the flat key signature is indicated in the same way as in Western staff notation, by adding a flat sign. However, within the scale, notes are denoted using Miao characters. To lower a note by a semitone in Miao notation, a special Miao vowel symbol, a small vertical hook facing right (pronounced “ei”), is used.

调号的主音与五线谱简谱一样用英文字母表示,表示降号调的符号也同五线谱简谱一样加上降记号。音阶中的音符是用苗文字母表示,它的降半音则是用苗文韵母符号小竖钩(钩子朝右,发音ei )表示。


Division Symbols (分隔符号)

  • Unit Beat Separator 单位拍分隔符号 (:)

This symbol is used after each unit beat to denote a single beat as showed in below:

用在每个单位拍后面,表示一拍。谱例如下:

The simplified notation is as follows:

翻译成简谱就是:

  • Subdominant Beat Separator 次强拍分隔符号 (㆐)

This symbol is used before the subdominant beat in compound time signatures, indicating that the symbol follows a subdominant beat within the compound meter. A compound meter has measures with two or more beats of the same type, characterized by the presence of strong and weak beats, appearing regularly. Examples include meters with four beats, six beats, and nine beats.Below, each compound meter is marked with a pattern illustrating the strength of the beats, where a black circle represents a strong beat, a white circle a weak beat, and a half black, half white circle a subdominant beat, indicating the start of the next similar type of single beat as showed in below:

用在复拍子每个小节的次强拍前面,表示符号后面是复拍子的次强拍。复拍子是每个小节有两个或者两个以上相同类型的单拍子,它的特点是小节里有强拍和次强拍,并有规律地出现。比如四拍子、六拍子和九拍子等

以下谱例中每个复拍子下面标出强弱规律图示,黑圆圈代表强拍,白圆圈代表弱拍,半黑半白的就是次强拍,表示下一个相同类型的单拍子的开始。

For example, in Miao notation:

1. Four-beat meter (四拍子):

Translated into simplified notation as follows:

2. Six-beat meter (六拍子):

Translated into simplified notation as follows:

3. Nine-beat meter (九拍子):

Translated into simplified notation as follows:


Triplets (三连音)

A triplet involves three notes sung in the duration of one beat. In Miao notation, this is indicated by placing two inverted commas below the middle note. For example

三连音就是三个音连起来唱一拍。苗文谱的用法是在三个音的中间下方用两个倒过来的逗号表示。谱例如下:

1. 1983 edition of “Miao Hymns of Praise to the Lord” (1983年版《苗文颂主圣歌》谱例)

2. 2010 new edition of “Miao Hymns of Praise to the Lord” (2010年新版《苗文颂主圣歌》谱例)

From the unit beat separators in the score, it can be deduced that this is a song in triple meter, which makes extensive use of triplets. The translation into simplified notation is as follows:

从谱例中的单位拍分隔符可以判断出这是一首三拍子的歌曲,其中大量使用了三连音,翻译成简谱如下:

  • Subdominant Beat Separator 次强拍分隔符号 (㆐)

This symbol is used before the subdominant beat in compound time signatures, indicating that the symbol follows a subdominant beat within the compound meter. A compound meter has measures with two or more beats of the same type, characterized by the presence of strong and weak beats, appearing regularly. Examples include meters with four beats, six beats, and nine beats.Below, each compound meter is marked with a pattern illustrating the strength of the beats, where a black circle represents a strong beat, a white circle a weak beat, and a half black, half white circle a subdominant beat, indicating the start of the next similar type of single beat as showed in below:

用在复拍子每个小节的次强拍前面,表示符号后面是复拍子的次强拍。复拍子是每个小节有两个或者两个以上相同类型的单拍子,它的特点是小节里有强拍和次强拍,并有规律地出现。比如四拍子、六拍子和九拍子等

以下谱例中每个复拍子下面标出强弱规律图示,黑圆圈代表强拍,白圆圈代表弱拍,半黑半白的就是次强拍,表示下一个相同类型的单拍子的开始。

For example, in Miao notation:

1. Four-beat meter (四拍子):

Translated into simplified notation as follows:

2. Six-beat meter (六拍子):

Translated into simplified notation as follows:

3. Nine-beat meter (九拍子):

Translated into simplified notation as follows:


Long Dash (—) (长横线)

  • Slur 连音线 (under the notes, indicating that one syllable is sung over multiple notes

This line is drawn under the notes to indicate that a single syllable is sung over multiple notes. See the example below (the music score is followed by Miao lyrics) as shown below:

连音线划在音符下方,用来表示一个字唱多个音。谱例如下:

  • Connector 连线 (under the lyrics, indicating names of people or places)

This line is drawn under the lyrics to denote names of people or places mentioned in the Bible.

划在歌词下面,表示圣经里面的人名或者地名2. 人名。

1. Place name: The underlined lyrics translate to the place name “Jerusalem.”

1. 地名:划线的歌词翻译过来就是地名“耶路撒冷”

2. Person name:The underlined lyrics translate to the person name: Joshua.

2. 人名:划线的歌词翻译过来就是人名:约书亚


Repeat Sign D.S.(反复记号D.S.)

The use and notation of the repeat sign D.S. (Dal Segno) in Miao notation are similar to those in staff and simplified notation, where D.S. is used to indicate a repeat. The difference lies in how Miao notation always starts with D.S. written above the music score, while the lyrics to be repeated are separately noted at the bottom of the score.

苗文谱的反复记号的用法和写法与五线谱简谱相似,都是用D.S.表示。不同之处在于苗文谱的起始都是用D.S.,均写在乐谱上方,反复的歌词则单独写在乐谱的最下方。

  • Repeat Sign D.S. (1983 version of “Miao Hymns of Praise to the Lord”)

Start repeating from the first D.S. to the last section of the lyrics, ending at the double bar line above the second D.S. In this four-part song, the singing sequence is: sing the first three sections of lyrics, then return to sing the last line of lyrics starting from the first D.S., and continue until the end of the repeat at the lyrics under the double bar line above the second D.S.

从第一个D.S.处开始反复最后一段歌词,至第二个D.S.上方双纵线处结束。这首四声部歌曲中的演唱顺序是:把前面三段歌词唱完后,再返回去从第一个D.S.处开始唱最后一行单独的歌词,一直唱到第二个D.S.上方双纵线反复的歌词结束处结束。

Below is the 2010 edition of “Miao Hymns of Praise to the Lord,” which includes a grand staff bracketed by straight lines. The position of the second D.S. here might be a typographical error and should be marked at the end, as seen in the 1983 edition:

下面是2010版《苗文颂主圣歌》,加上了直括线大谱表。第二个D.S.的位置在此处可能是排版标错了,应该标记在最后,参看1983版的位置

  • Differences from Staff and Simplified Notation
  1. Start In Miao notation, all repeats are indicated by D.S., and it is always placed above the score
  2. In staff and simplified notation, the D.S. for a repeat starts below the music score and ends at a marked ending sign;
  1. 苗文谱全部用D.S.表示反复,且D.S.的位置均在乐谱上方。
  2. 五线谱简谱反复的起始处则D.S.写在乐谱下方并结束在标有结束记号处。

The order of singing is as follows


Four-Part Voicing Symbol (四声部标志)

In Miao notation, the symbol for four-part choir is typically placed at the top left corner of the score, which is between the clef symbols. It includes Miao characters that represent “four” or “four types”. As demonstrated (1983 edition of “Miao Hymns of Praise to the Lord”)

苗文谱四声部合唱的标记往往在乐谱开头左上方,也就是在调号中间加上表示四个或者四种这两个苗文字。如图所示(1983年版《苗文颂主圣歌》)

The first character is the key signature for the key of A, indicating A as the tonic; the second character means “four,” pronounced similarly to “dào”; the third character means “type” or “kind,” pronounced similarly to “rào”; the fourth character relates to the mentioned key signature, pronounced “shàng.” Translated, these characters denote “four voices or types in the key of A,” which in musical terminology is “A key four-part voicing.” Below is the 2010 edition of “Miao Hymns of Praise to the Lord”

第一个字母是调号A调的标志,代表A为主音;第二个字是四的意思,发音近似(到);第三个字是个或者种的意思,发音近似(绕);第四个字就是前面讲调号的音或者调的意思,发音是(上)。这几个字翻译过来就是:A为主音的四个调或者四种音,用音乐专业术语翻译过来就是A调四声部。下面是2010版《苗文颂主圣歌》:

The 2010 edition mostly features four-part compositions, hence the specific Miao symbol for four-part voicing was removed, and a grand staff bracket was added.

2010版几乎都是四声部,所以去掉了四声部的苗文标志,加上了直括线大谱表。

Symbols Similar to Staff and Simplified Notation (与五线谱和简谱相同的记号)

1. Fermata (自由延长记号:

    Translated into simplified notation

    翻译成简谱如下

    2. Accent or Sforzando (重音或者强音记号)

    Translated into simplified notation

    翻译成简谱如下

    3. Tie (–)增时线

    The tie (–) serves to extend the duration of a note, and it is sung as the note before it, similar to simplified notation, as shown below:

    增时线(-)的作用是增加时值,它的唱名是位于它前面的音符,与简谱相同,如谱例所示

    Translated into simplified notation

    翻译成简谱如下

    3. Accent or Sforzando (重音或者强音记号)

    Translated into simplified notation

    翻译成简谱如下

    4. Grand Staff, Measure Lines, and End Bar Line 大谱表、小节线和终止线

    Line The following is from the 2010 edition of the Miao four-part choir score, featuring Miao lyrics. The use of grand staff, measure lines, and end bar lines is consistent with staff and simplified notation:

    下图是2010版苗文谱的四声部合唱谱,中间一行是苗文歌词,它所用的直括线大谱表、小节线和终止线与五线谱和简谱一致: