Introduction1


In 1905, British missionary Samuel Pollard, aided by Han Chinese missionary Li Sitifen and Miao intellectuals such as Yang Yage, created a script for the Miao language based on the Latin alphabet and Miao clothing patterns, standardizing on the dialect of Shimenkan Miao. Pollard found the tonal system of the Miao language complex and challenging to grasp as an outsider, which made it difficult to distinguish tones. He later utilized musical notes to differentiate these tones. Pollard discussed in his book “A Record of the Miao,” that turning such a language into a written form seemed to continuously require some form of musical notation, from which one could learn a singable multiplication table. Considering it as a comprehensive mathematical problem, including numbers, would be overwhelming; indeed, musical elements are indispensable. Inspired by musical pitch, Pollard developed a Miao musical notation system, referred to as “pronunciation notation,” using Miao alphabets and tones aligned with the British tonic sol-fa method. This alphabet notation system enabled Miao believers to quickly master Christian hymns and other songs.

1905年英国传教士柏格理(Samuel Pollard)为传教的需要,在滇东北汉族传道员李斯提反和苗族知识分子杨雅各等人的协助下,根据拉丁字母和苗族服饰图案,以石门坎苗语为标准音创制了苗文。柏格理在制定文字的时候就发现苗语的声调很复杂,作为局外人很难掌握,不易辨别,后来他用音符的高低来替代和区别这些声调。柏格理在其著的《苗族纪实》一书中曾论述到 “在把这样一种语言演变成文字的过程中,似乎自始至终都在需要某种音乐的乐谱,从中您能够学到一张可以唱出来的乘法运算表。如果当真把它当作包括数字在内的十足的数学问题,亦将令人难以应付,总之音乐的要素从来绝对不可缺少。” 柏格理对难以解决的苗语声调从音乐的音调中获得启发, 以致发展到用苗文字母和声调参照英国首调唱名法制定了苗文乐谱,称之为“发音谱”。这套与老苗文同出一处的字母乐谱使苗族信徒很快掌握基督教赞美诗等歌曲。


I. Miao Musical Notation and Its Musical Notes

Basic Musical Notes


Miao musical notation utilizes seven basic tones, which are based on seven single consonants from the Northeastern Dian sub-dialect’s old Miao script. These consonants closely resemble Latin letters both in shape and pronunciation. The fundamental musical notes are developed based on these seven letters, as illustrated in below chart:

苗文谱的七个基本音级采用滇东北次方言老苗文的七个单音声母,这七个单音声母的形状和发音都接近拉丁字母,其基本音符就是在这七个字母的基础上进行的。如图所示:

The above describes the seven basic pitches of Miao musical notation and their corresponding relationships to pitches and notations in simplified music notation. Like standard notation, Miao musical notation includes quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, dotted notes, rests, and grace notes. However, terms such as one-beat notes, two-beat notes, and three-beat notes are commonly used for a more intuitive description. Different symbols such as dots, short lines, and commas are used before and after these notes to represent different pitches and note values based on their placement.

以上是苗文谱的七个基本音级以及它的发音和简谱的对应关系。苗文谱与简谱一样有四分音符、八分音符、十六分音符、附点音符、休止符及切分音符等各种时值的音符,但是往往用一拍、两拍、三拍音符等比较直观的称呼。在这些音符的前后,用点、短线和逗号等各种符号根据位置的不同代表不同的音符和时值。


One-beat note (Quarter Note)

In Miao musical notation, a one-beat note is represented by a single Miao initial consonant. This operates similarly to a quarter note in simplified notation, but it typically has two small dots (:) placed after it to separate each beat unit, as shown in the following diagram:

苗文谱的一拍音符是用一个苗文声母表示,它的原理与四分音符的简谱一样,但是它往往在每个单位拍后面加上两个小点(:) 用来隔开每个单位拍。如下图所示:

Translated into simplified notation as follows:

翻译成简谱如下:

Each measure contains four one-beat notes. The first one-beat note is followed by two dots (:) indicating one beat; the second one-beat note is followed by a short vertical line (㆐), which signifies that it is sung for one beat and also marks the next note as a secondary strong beat in compound time. The third one-beat note, like the first, is also followed by two dots (:) to indicate one beat; the fourth one-beat note is followed by a bar line (ㄧ) which also indicates that this quarter note is sung for one beat, marking the end of the measure and the pattern of strong and weak beats.

每一个小节里面有四个一拍音符。第一个一拍音符后面加上(:)表示一拍;第二个一拍音符后面加上一根短竖线(㆐)既表示第二个一拍音符唱一拍又代表后面的音符是复拍子的次强拍;第三个一拍音符同第一个一拍音符一样后面都加上(:)表示一拍; 第四个一拍音符后面是小节线(ㄧ)也表示这个四分音符唱一拍,且代表一个小节即一个强弱规律的结束。


Two-beat note (Half Note)

In Miao musical notation, a two-beat note is created by adding a short horizontal line (-) after a one-beat note, similar to the extension line used in simplified notation. However, what differentiates it is that a one-beat note is marked with two dots (:) indicating a single beat unit. Below is an illustration comparing the two-beat note in Miao notation with simplified notation:

苗文谱的两拍音符是在一拍音符的后面加上一根短横线(-),与简谱的增时线一样,不同之处在于一拍音符后面加了( :)用来表示一个单位拍。下面是两拍音符与简谱对照图示:

Example of the two-beat Miao notation is as follows:

Translated into simplified notation as follows:


Three and Four-beat notes (Whole Note)

The notation for three-beat and four-beat notes in Miao musical notation is roughly similar to that used in simplified notation, involving the addition of one or two extension lines after a two-beat note. However, a key difference lies in the placement of a short vertical line (㆐) after the second beat of a four-beat note, or after the third beat in six-beat or nine-beat measures, right before a secondary strong beat. This short vertical line signifies the secondary strong beat in compound meters. The comparison between the three-beat notes in Miao notation and simplified notation is illustrated below:

三拍音符和四拍音符的写法与简谱大致相同,也是在两拍音符的后面再多加一根或者两根增时线。所不同之处是在四拍音符的第二拍后面,或者六拍子的第三拍、九拍子的第三拍和第六拍后面即次强拍前面有一根短竖线(㆐),这根短竖线所起的作用是代表复拍子的次强拍。三拍音符与简谱对照如下图示:

If the song is in a three-beat measure, then a bar line (▕ ) follows the third beat. This marks the end of the measure in the musical notation. Example of the two-beat Miao notation is as follows:

如果歌曲是三拍子,那么第三拍后面是小节线(▕ )三拍子的苗文谱如下

Translated into simplified notation as follows:

翻译成简谱如下

In songs with compound time signatures like six or nine beats per measure, a secondary strong beat separator( ㆐ ) is placed after the third beat. This notation helps to structure the rhythm and indicate the emphasis within the measure.The six-beat Miao notation is as follows:

如果是六拍子或者九拍子等多拍子的歌曲,那么第三拍的后面就是二强拍即次强拍分隔符( ㆐ )。六拍子的苗文谱如下

Translated into simplified notation as follows:

翻译成简谱如下

In a four-beat note, a short vertical line is often added after the second beat to indicate a secondary strong beat separator, and a bar line is added after the fourth beat. Below is a comparison diagram of the four-beat note (whole note) with simplified notation:

四拍音符往往在第二拍后面加上一根短竖线表示二强拍即次强拍分隔符,在第四拍后面加小节线。

图表十九:四拍音符(全音符)与简谱对照图示:


Half-Beat Note (Eight Notes)

  • One Half Beat or Two Half Beats

A half-beat note is created by adding a dot (.) after a one-beat note. In simplified notation, this is represented as X, and it is sung for half a beat, equivalent to an eighth note. The note immediately before the dot is also a half-beat note. Together with the note after the dot, they form two half-beat notes, which together are sung for one full beat. In simplified notation, this is represented as X X, equivalent to two eighth notes. For example, see the notation below:

一个半拍音符是在一个一拍音符之前加一个小点(.),翻译成简谱就是 X ,唱半拍,相当于一个八分音符。紧挨着小圆点之前的音符也是半拍音符,和点后面的音符一起构成两个半拍音符,两个半拍共唱一拍,翻译成简谱就是X X,相当于两个八分音符 。
谱例如下(谱例6a):

Translated into simplified notation as follows:

翻译成简谱如下

If there is a short line before the dot, this short line extends the duration of the previous note, and together with the dot forms a half-beat note, as in (−.). In simplified notation, this is represented as x. Along with the note after the dot, they form two half-beat notes, translated into simplified notation as x x. For example, see the notation below:

如果点前面是一根短横线,那么这根短横线就是前面音符的延续,与小圆点构成一个半拍音符,如(-﹒),翻译成简谱就是x ;同时与圆点后面的音符一起构成两个半拍音符,翻译成简谱就是x x 。谱例如下:

Translated into simplified notation as follows:

翻译成简谱如下

The simplified notation for dotted notes is as follows:

翻译成附点音符如下

Summary of Half-Beats can be found in the table below:

关于半拍的总结见以下表格:


Short Notes (Sixteenth Notes)

  • One Beat with a Long-Short Pattern (Dotted Eighth Note Followed by Sixteenth Note)

A short note (sixteenth note) is created by adding a comma (,) before a one-beat note, which makes the short note equivalent to a sixteenth note, sung for one-quarter of a beat. When combined with a three-quarters beat note (dotted eighth note), they form a long-short pattern that lasts one full beat, equivalent to a dotted eighth note followed by a sixteenth note as showed in below:

在一拍音符前面加上一个逗号( , )构成一个短音符(十六分音符),唱四分之一拍的时值,与四分之三拍音符(附点八分音符)一起构成前长后短共一拍,相当于前附点八后十六分音符, 如下图所示:

The notation example is as follows:

谱例如下:

The simplified notation for dotted notes is as follows:

翻译成简谱如下

  • A short note followed by a long note, together making one beat (a sixteenth note followed by a dotted eighth note)

After a beat note, add a comma (,) to form a short note (sixteenth note), and then add a dotted eighth note. The difference between this dotted eighth note and the long note in the front short and back long (dotted eighth note) is that it has an additional augmentation line, combined together to form a front short and back long, totaling one beat, equivalent to a sixteenth note followed by a dotted eighth note as showed in below:

在一拍音符后面加上一个逗号(,)构成短音符(十六分音符),后面再加上一个附点八分音符,这个附点八分音符与前长后短的长音符(附点八分音符)的区别在于多了一根增时线,组合在一起构成前短后长共一拍,相当于前十六后附点八分音符如下图所示:

The notation example is as follows:

谱例如下:

The simplified notation for dotted notes is as follows:

翻译成简谱如下

  • Two combined to sing half a beat

A comma between two one-beat notes indicates that they represent two quarter-beat notes, together making up half a beat. The score is as follows:

逗号在两个一拍音符之间,表示两个四分之一拍音符,合起来共唱半拍。谱例如下

The notation example is as follows:

谱例如下:

The simplified notation for dotted notes is as follows:

翻译成简谱如下

  • Table for the Sixteenth Note

Summary

The summary of the correspondence between the basic musical notes in Miao notation and numbered musical notation is as follows:

把以上苗文谱基本音符与简谱对应归纳如下:

(Edited by ECura team)

  1. This content is adapted and excerpted with permission from original work 滇东北次方言老苗文与苗文谱的田野调查与研 (Investigation and Research on the Old Miao Script and Miao Script Spectrum in the Northeastern Yunnan Sub-dialect) by Yunhui Yang, which was originally published in the journal of 内蒙古大学学报 (Journal of Inner Mongolia University). All rights remain with the original author. ↩︎