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Jbozgi Music

jbozgi: a lojbanistani style of music in which the words generate a specific tune. Unlike in Solresol, jbozgi tunes do not uniquely identify their text.

From the Lojban mailing list:

The idea of inventing Lojbanic culture (such as with new forms of poetry) helped prompt this idea: what if the sounds of Lojbanic words were expressed as music in a specific way?

There are 12 notes in the chromatic scale, but only 10 of them are used in either the major or minor scale of any given key. There are also 10 vowels/dipthongs in Lojban: a e i o u y ai ei oi au. So what if each vowel represents a note?

Of those vowels, the most prominent are "a e i o u". Similarly, there are traditionally five prominent notes of a scale - the pentatonic scale: "Do Re Mi So La". Music from many different cultures is written on the pentatonic scale, including traditional Japanese music and American folk music.

The vowels "a i u" are the most common, and the fundamental notes of the scale are those of the major triad, "Do Mi So".

Now, the do-re-mi notation is a pain, so I'll set Do to be C. So we're in the key of C. The major triad is C E G.

Assign the vowels like this:


u a i

and then the rest of the pentatonic scale can be filled in with e and o:


u e a i o

Let the dipthongs ending in 'i' be a half-step above their initial vowel, and put 'au' above 'i' just because:

C D Eb E F G Ab A Bb

u e ei a ai i au o oi

All that's left is 'y', which can get the rather weak note B.

C D Eb E F G Ab A Bb B

u e ei a ai i au o oi y

So now every syllable of Lojban text can be sung as a note. (Put syllabic consonants on the same note as the last syllable, and sweep between notes for the odd dipthongs like .ui.) Various Lojban phrases end up sounding very pleasant this way. But that's not all.

Now Lojban poetry can automatically have a tune. Also, it's possible to write poetry in such a way that it matches a tune.

Here's some Lojban to the tune of "Simple Gifts" / "Lord of the Dance". (The lyrics don't make all that much sense and I had to insert two notes which weren't there in the tune, but hey, it's a first attempt.)

(lowercase = lower octave)

.i mi muvdu je dansu janai rimni bai ma | g g C C D E C E F G G F E

.i le nungleki .e le zenba xedydji | (g) D C D g D C D E D b g

.i ti kulnu je .a'u.uacai rilti .ai ca | g g C C D E C E F G G F E

lenu le selsanga le selsku cu du | D C D D E E (D) D C C C

-- Rob Speer

We also had a post in which Rob gave us the tune for the Lojban version of Lobster Quadrille:

(asterisks are placed before the note that has the accent)

e'o sutra doi cakcurnu i ko ti'a zgana ua pa

D A *C E Bb E *C C G A *G E E E *E E

xajyfi'e noi jbitrixe gi'e me mi rebla stapa

E B*G D Bb G *G D G D *D G D E *E E

i ui a'a ro le jukni e le respa ca se ganse

G CG*E E A D *C G D D *D E E D *E D

gi'e denpa mi le canre i pei do ba kansa dansu

G D *D E G D *E D G Eb *A E E E *E C

i aipei naipei aipei naipei aipei do ba dansu

G *F Eb F Eb *F Eb F Eb *F Eb A E *E C

i aipei naipei aipei naipei naipei do ba dansu

G *F Eb F Eb *F Eb F Eb *F Eb A E *E C

.i mi mo'u nicygau le ciska morna mi'e rab.spir