[tlhIngan Hol] Klingon Word of the Day: jav

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Tue Nov 10 06:17:58 PST 2020

The moveable “do” in American traditional singing is more specifically “Shaped Note” singing, which was a business venture in the southeastern states. The company that published books of hymns using the shaped note system of notation would send salesmen around to churches to teach the system to local choirs and sell them books and move on to the next church.

My grandpa was a shaped note singer, and sometimes when I sing them, I feel like I’m touching his spirit. He was a bass, too, and the bass parts in shaped note hymns are really wonderful. You don’t sing shaped note so much as you yell it with zeal. The spiritual idea behind shaped note singing is that it’s like your chest is bursting with The Spirit, and you gotta yell to let it out. This is not your typical, etherial choir singing among the heavy reverb of a cathedral. This is a bunch of people in a lovingly painted shack, doing the only musical thing in their lives at the top of their lungs, often so moved as to stream tears in the process.

The melody is typically in the tenor line and the bass melodies are primal. The altos and sopranos are pretty much there to fill in the chords, so you can tell that the arrangers were male.

Besides the moveable scale (many of the churches didn’t have any musical instruments, so there was no standard pitch, and the choir would just pick a note that worked for the voices who happened to belong to the choir) they used different shapes for half of the pitches of a scale, then repeated the shapes for the other half (so there weren’t so many different shapes to learn) and you differentiated between the two different notes with the same shape by their positions, since, aside from the addition to the note head shapes, the music was written out in modern musical notation.

So, the music is written in specific keys, complete with key signatures, but by tradition, you rarely sing the hymns in the key written. To paraphrase Jack Sparrow and his crew, the key is “more of a guideline, really."

Maltz doesn’t mention anything about a standard pitch, but since there are nine notes… we don’t know if those nine notes are repeated in what we would call “octaves”, or if they just have nine notes, and that’s it. You’re done. Like a flute with eight finger holes and one thumb hole and if you over-blow to the octave for a wider range, somebody hits you and tells you to stop fooling around.

If it’s nine notes in an octave (or some other kind of repeated set of notes), then either their scale is akin to our harmonic minor scale, which has seven notes ascending to the octave (a “repeated” note), and two other notes descending from that top note, before rejoining the other five predefined notes to the tonic, or maybe they use micro-tones to split the octave in ways that don’t have anything to do with natural harmonics, so any harmony would involve the “wowowowowow” sound of acoustic moire patterns from harmonic tones that don’t quite align, which might explain a lot in terms of typical Klingon moods portrayed in the Star Trek Universe. It would also explain why Klingon opera requires an acquired taste.

Basically, all we know about Klingon music is that it has nine notes to a scale, or at least it used to at one point in history. Beyond that, everything is conjecture.

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.

> On Nov 9, 2020, at 9:29 PM, Jeff Zeitlin <jdzspamcop at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, 9 Nov 2020 15:57:35 +0000, Steven Boozer
> <sboozer at uchicago.edu> wrote:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> Klingon Word of the Day for Monday, November 09, 2020
>> Klingon word: 	jav
>> Part of speech: 	noun
>> Definition: 	sixth tone of nonatonic musical scale
>> {KGT 72-73):   Older Klingon music was based on a nonatonic 
>> scale--that is, one made up of nine tones. Each tone has a specific 
>> name, comparable to the "do, re, mi" system used in describing music 
>> on Earth. The nine tone names are (the first and ninth, as with 
>> Earth's "do," being the same): {yu, bIm, 'egh, loS, vagh, jav, Soch, 
>> chorgh, yu}. While the first three (and ninth) of these words 
> One becomes curious as to whether this represents an analog to the
> common American "movable 'do'" solfege scale, where 'do' is simply the
> tonic of a diatonic scale, or the European "fixed 'do'" solfege scale,
> where 'do' refers to (I believe) C.
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