|From:||Marshall and Endemann <vaiaata@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, March 10, 2004, 7:58|
On March 20 In the Pilgrims' Church in Leiden, the Netherlands, an
international choir of nearly 200 high school students (with two wind bands)
will present the premiere of a specially commissioned 10 minute work 'U
This will be the first ever performance of a text in the Niuspi language,
though I am working on others.
Niuspi is very much a work in progress. It grew out of the brief for this
commissioned work: a non-religious, positive text with an international
flavour. After months of exploring Esperanto, Ido, Glosa and Lojban a new
language seemed to start growing spontaneously as I wrote the text - a very
peculiar experience! So far much of the basic grammar is in place - but only
a few hundred words. It is pretty stable, the last change (Glosa's
numerative 'plu' being replaced by 'zi' for aesthetic reasons) occurred
several months ago.
As you will see from the text and translation below, by far the strongest
influence on Niuspi is Glosa. I love the creative flexibility of a truly
isolating language, though (from a musical standpoint I stress) I find
Glosa's constant polysyllabic nature a bit clunky. I thought there must be
some reason for why many of the world's isolating languages seemed to be
primarily monosyllabic. Besides I like the compactness of monosyllables. The
maximum formula of 'ccvv' will eventually allow for around 3000 base words -
though for now there are only a few hundred!
I was frustrated by the halfway phonetic nature of all the languages I
studied - even Glosa with its 'c' being pronounced 'tsh', 'x' as 'ks', 'sc'
as 'sh', 'j' as 'dj' etc, though I understand the rationale behind those
From a singer's point of view, final consonants are a huge nuisance -
particularly the frequent, unpredictable and difficult-to-pronounce clusters
in English and German where a double final consonant meets the double (or
even triple) initial consonant of the following word. All four or five
consonants must be compressed into a split second at the beginning of a
note. And this is not merely a musical concern. In all my years in my
previous profession, teaching English as a second language, final consonants
were for many speakers a huge barrier to fluid pronunciation.
For speakers of some languages even the double consonants of Niuspi might
look tongue tying. If so, and a brief schwa appears between their
consonants, comprehension is not at all impeded because the schwa does not
otherwise exist in Niuspi.
Here is the text of 'U Trau' followed by an English translation and the
pronunciation guide that accompanied the music. In addition, a recording of
the text read is available for download from the internet at
<http://www.vaiaata.com/niuspi.html>. By the way, please do not judge the
text on poetic grounds. I did my best and the ideas expressed are sincere,
but in the end it is the work of a composer who needed a text to provide a
structure upon which to build the music!
Mi pa hae u trau....
Mi pa trau ke Gaia pa bi u gja ple i zi au kla floa.
Mi pa trau ke Gaia pa bi mo nzio e u tou hua o le zi nziope.
Mi pa trau ke u hua pa bi u fmi, e au pe zi zbi; e ke zi ho e fe pa ge ksoi
gua, smi duo flue o bvi.
I had a dream....
I dreamt that the earth was a garden full of flowers of every colour.
I dreamt that the earth was one nation and all humanity its citizens.
I dreamt that humankind was a family; and all people brothers and sisters;
and that men and women were seen as equal, like the two wings of a bird.
Mi pa trau o muo i ke au gue pa pa sto, i ke u pae pa flo smi rio.
Mi pa trau o muo i ke pa ge bi u nui pro ca fae pe, u hlai pro ca mau pe, u
kfoa pro ca trie pe, au ge gi pro lau;
U muo i ke ca pe pa hae u do, i ke u rai pa ge cea, i ke ca hua bio pa bi u
ge zreo bju.
I dreamt of a world where all wars had ceased, where peace flowed like a
I dreamt of a world where there was food for the hungry, healing for the
sick, comfort for the sad, all given out of love;
A world where everybody had a home, where wealth was shared, where each
human life was a jewel to be treasured.
Mi pa trau ke Gaia pa bi u hau e au biole o le zi haupe.
Mi pa trau ke u tou hua pa zvea Gaia: o le klea kua, o le puo ea, o le no
mbea beu, o le mzie.
Mi pa trau ke au griape pa crei u trea, au pcipe pa crei u mae; e ke u tou
hua i ca lo pa pui hea u kco o Gaia.
I dreamt that the Earth was a house and all living things its tenants.
I dreamt that all humanity cared for the earth, its clear water, its clean
air, its incomparable beauty, its mystery.
I dreamt that all farmers cherished the land, all fishermen cherished the
sea; and that all humanity everywhere could hear the song of the earth.
E mi pa vae, e mi pa vi, e mi pa di:
Li nu ski o Gaia nzie kco,
Vai nu kri u niu kco pro hua,
Li nu kco pro beu fu tai,
Pro zi sfia cie, zi mrea mae,
Pro lau e jua e spie e pae,
U fu tai ple i zi voe o zi kni,
U fu tai ple i zi trau.
Nu hae u trau.....
And I woke, and I saw, and I said:
Let us learn the earth¹s ancient song,
While we write a new song for humanity,
Let us sing for a beautiful future,
For sapphire skies and emerald seas,
For love and joy and wisdom and peace,
A future full of the voices of children,
A future full of dreams.
We have a dream....
The text of U Trau is in Niu Spi, a language with a vocabulary derived
mainly from Indo-European languages and with a grammar which in some aspects
resembles Chinese. The following guide covers most issues.
All Niu Spi vowels are similar to Italian vowels.
Niu Spi diphthongs retain the value of both vowels. In the sung language,
always move quickly to the second vowel. On a long note or melisma it is the
second vowel that is sustained, not the first as is usual in English.
Niu Spi consonants are similar to English consonants with the following
c = English sh
g = always hard as in the English girl
h = preferably hard, like the Arabic h
j = soft, as in the French jaune
r = preferably slightly rolled, as in the French rêve
q, w, x and y do not exist in Niu Spi
For English speakers some initial double consonants such as nz, zr, bj,
mr, kn, may look difficult. However Niu Spi words have no final consonants
and few breaks between words, so such sounds present no problem when
practised as part of the phrase in which they occur.
In two syllable words such as biole (living thing) and griape (farmer) the
first syllable is slightly stressed.
Well, that's it! I will continue to use and develop Niuspi as I write new
texts for my music. Whether it has any application outside this very
specialised personal use I do not know. Since it was these lists that gave
me invaluable building blocks for my own language I thought I would run some
of the basics of it past people with experience in this area. I would
appreciate your suggestions. In the next few days of preparation before
flying to Europe I doubt I will have much chance to respond but will be able
to do so more fully when I return at the beginning of April.
I've no idea what sort of reception my music will get in Holland - and I've
even less idea of how they will view my 'international text' - hopefully not
with ridicule! The students and teachers are already rehearsing their music
and so far their reaction has been positive.
Christopher Marshall - composer