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World Music Lecture Series with Jason Lee – Tones and tunes: Text-setting in Cantonese music

What is a tone language? How do songwriters effectively craft lyrics in a tone language? What roles do tones play in this intricate process of text-setting?

In this lecture, Jason Yin Hei Lee uses music in Cantonese, a tone language spoken widely around the world and in Canada, as a case study to unravel the relationship between linguistic tones and musical melodies. Drawing upon the works of esteemed scholars and his own latest research, Lee offers an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the current state of research on text-setting in Cantonese music and demonstrates the fascinating nature of the language. Examples will be taken from various genres of Cantonese music, such as Cantonese opera, Cantopop, and Cantonese choral music.


Lesson Plan


Lecture recording:

This lecture was held at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden on July 8, 2023.