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postgraduate thesis: A phonological study of the tone-melody correspondence in Cantonese pop music

TitleA phonological study of the tone-melody correspondence in Cantonese pop music
Authors
Advisors
Issue Date2010
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Ho, W. V. [何詠詩]. (2010). A phonological study of the tone-melody correspondence in Cantonese pop music. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5089975
AbstractThis PhD research aims at revealing the underlying complexity of the grammar of tone-melody mapping in Cantonese pop music. While linguists have shown a growing interest and invested painstaking effort in finding out whether lexical tones and musical melody interact in vocal music, the attention of these scholars mainly focuses on whether a lexical item remains intelligible to speakers of the given language when the tonal integrity is not preserved in the song. Others are interested in quantifying the degree of tone-melody correspondence and in carrying out cross-linguistic comparisons. The majority of such research studies fail to unravel the details of how tone and melody interact. This research challenges the methodologies and assumptions made in some previous studies that fail to account for the discrepancy between structural and perceptual ‘correspondence’ or ‘mismatch’. The notions of ‘correspondence’ and ‘mismatch’ are revisited and redefined from a perceptual perspective – a ‘perfect match’ refers to the mapping between a melodic transition and a tonal target transition that is satisfactorily accepted by native speakers of the language, whereas a ‘mismatch’ refers to a tone-melody pairing that sounds awkward to the native ear, whether or not the string of syllables are comprehensible, ambiguous or unintelligible when set to the song. Through conducting perception tests, songs are grouped into two main categories for two different purposes – the songs without perceptual mismatch are used for a profound analysis of the well-formed mapping patterns at the abstract level. The most frequently attested correspondence pattern concerns the pairing between tonal target transition and melodic transition progressing in the same direction. The directionality constraint is satisfied in about 80% of the cases. It is also revealed that level tonal target sequences can be mapped to non-level melodies and still remain well-formed. This mapping, however, is strictly conditional and only occurs when licensed. The other group of songs are those in which native speakers have identified cases of perceptual mismatch. By examining the ill-formed examples, other mapping constraints are uncovered – the interval constraint requires that the pitch distance of a melodic transition be comparable to that of the corresponding tonal target transition. The mapping criterion is therefore more like a ‘vector’, obliging the two transitions to agree not only in direction but also in slope. The Hidden Structure Alignment constraint is the third important mapping constraint discovered that succeeds in providing solutions to account for unusual pairings or mismatches that directionality and interval fail to explain. In order that a tonal target transition match a melodic transition, the hidden or phonetically unexpressed semitones on both tonal and melodic scales should be aligned to or absent from the same edge. This constraint is helpful to account for the extremely restricted mapping patterns at the song-final cadence. By investigating a large corpus of Cantonese pop songs written by various lyricists, this research proposes a detailed description of the grammar of Cantonese tone-melody mapping in terms of the interaction of the directionality, interval and hidden structure alignment constraints.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectPopular music - China - Hong Kong.
Cantonese dialects - Tone.
Melody.
Dept/ProgramLinguistics
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/192830

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorDing, PS-
dc.contributor.advisorBiancorosso, G-
dc.contributor.authorHo, Wing-see, Vincie.-
dc.contributor.author何詠詩.-
dc.date.accessioned2013-11-24T02:01:02Z-
dc.date.available2013-11-24T02:01:02Z-
dc.date.issued2010-
dc.identifier.citationHo, W. V. [何詠詩]. (2010). A phonological study of the tone-melody correspondence in Cantonese pop music. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5089975-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/192830-
dc.description.abstractThis PhD research aims at revealing the underlying complexity of the grammar of tone-melody mapping in Cantonese pop music. While linguists have shown a growing interest and invested painstaking effort in finding out whether lexical tones and musical melody interact in vocal music, the attention of these scholars mainly focuses on whether a lexical item remains intelligible to speakers of the given language when the tonal integrity is not preserved in the song. Others are interested in quantifying the degree of tone-melody correspondence and in carrying out cross-linguistic comparisons. The majority of such research studies fail to unravel the details of how tone and melody interact. This research challenges the methodologies and assumptions made in some previous studies that fail to account for the discrepancy between structural and perceptual ‘correspondence’ or ‘mismatch’. The notions of ‘correspondence’ and ‘mismatch’ are revisited and redefined from a perceptual perspective – a ‘perfect match’ refers to the mapping between a melodic transition and a tonal target transition that is satisfactorily accepted by native speakers of the language, whereas a ‘mismatch’ refers to a tone-melody pairing that sounds awkward to the native ear, whether or not the string of syllables are comprehensible, ambiguous or unintelligible when set to the song. Through conducting perception tests, songs are grouped into two main categories for two different purposes – the songs without perceptual mismatch are used for a profound analysis of the well-formed mapping patterns at the abstract level. The most frequently attested correspondence pattern concerns the pairing between tonal target transition and melodic transition progressing in the same direction. The directionality constraint is satisfied in about 80% of the cases. It is also revealed that level tonal target sequences can be mapped to non-level melodies and still remain well-formed. This mapping, however, is strictly conditional and only occurs when licensed. The other group of songs are those in which native speakers have identified cases of perceptual mismatch. By examining the ill-formed examples, other mapping constraints are uncovered – the interval constraint requires that the pitch distance of a melodic transition be comparable to that of the corresponding tonal target transition. The mapping criterion is therefore more like a ‘vector’, obliging the two transitions to agree not only in direction but also in slope. The Hidden Structure Alignment constraint is the third important mapping constraint discovered that succeeds in providing solutions to account for unusual pairings or mismatches that directionality and interval fail to explain. In order that a tonal target transition match a melodic transition, the hidden or phonetically unexpressed semitones on both tonal and melodic scales should be aligned to or absent from the same edge. This constraint is helpful to account for the extremely restricted mapping patterns at the song-final cadence. By investigating a large corpus of Cantonese pop songs written by various lyricists, this research proposes a detailed description of the grammar of Cantonese tone-melody mapping in terms of the interaction of the directionality, interval and hidden structure alignment constraints.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B50899752-
dc.subject.lcshPopular music - China - Hong Kong.-
dc.subject.lcshCantonese dialects - Tone.-
dc.subject.lcshMelody.-
dc.titleA phonological study of the tone-melody correspondence in Cantonese pop music-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5089975-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineLinguistics-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5089975-
dc.date.hkucongregation2013-

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