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World Premiere

Marshall and Endemann (Marshall and Endemann <vaiaata@...>) on March 9, 2004

On March 20 In the Pilgrims’ Church in Leiden, the Netherlands, an interna= tional choir of nearly 200 high school students (with two wind bands) will = present the premiere of a specially commissioned 10 minute work ‘U Trau’. =

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, I= do, Glosa and Lojban a new language seemed to start growing spontaneously a= s I wrote the text - a very peculiar experience! So far much of the basic g= rammar 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 t= ranslation below, by far the strongest influence on Niuspi is Glosa. I love= the creative flexibility of a truly isolating language, though (from a mus= ical 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 is= olating languages seemed to be primarily monosyllabic. Besides I like the c= ompactness of monosyllables. The maximum formula of ‘ccvv’ will eventually = allow for around 3000 base words - though for now there are only a few hund= red!

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’, ‘s= c’ as ‘sh’, ‘j’ as ‘dj’ etc, though I understand the rationale behind those=

apparent inconsistencies.

From a singer’s point of view, final consonants= are a huge nuisance - particularly the frequent, unpredictable and difficu= lt-to-pronounce clusters in English and German where a double final consona= nt meets the double (or even triple) initial consonant of the following wor= d. All four or five consonants must be compressed into a split second at th= e 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, fin= al 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 consonan= ts, comprehension is not at all impeded because the schwa does not otherwis= e exist in Niuspi.

Here is the text of ‘U Trau’ followed by an English tra= nslation and the pronunciation guide that accompanied the music. In additio= n, a recording of the text read is available for download from the internet= at By the way, please do not judge t= he text on poetic grounds. I did my best and the ideas expressed are sincer= e, 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!

U Trau
The Dream

Mi pa ha= e u trau…. Mi pa trau ke Gaia pa bi u gja ple i zi au kla floa. Mi pa tra= u 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 bv= i.

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 it= s citizens. I dreamt that humankind was a family; and all people brothers a= nd sisters; and that men and women were seen as equal, like the two wings o= f a bird.

Mi pa trau o muo i ke au gue pa pa sto, i ke u pae pa flo sm= i rio. Mi pa trau o muo i ke pa ge bi u nui pro ca fae pe, u hlai pro ca ma= u 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 river. I dreamt= of a world where there was food for the hungry, healing for the sick, comf= ort 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, it= s mystery. I dreamt that all farmers cherished the land, all fishermen cher= ished 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, z= i mrea mae, Pro lau e jua e spie e pae, U fu tai ple i zi voe o zi kni, U f= u tai ple i zi trau. Nu hae u trau…..

And I woke, and I saw, and I said= : Let us learn the earth=B9s ancient song, While we write a new song for hu= manity, 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….

Pr= onunciation

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 so= me aspects resembles Chinese. The following guide covers most issues.

=85 = All Niu Spi vowels are similar to Italian vowels.

=85 Niu Spi diphthongs r= etain the value of both vowels. In the sung language, always move quickly t= o the second vowel. On a long note or melisma it is the second vowel that i= s sustained, not the first as is usual in English.

=85 Niu Spi consonants = are similar to English consonants with the following exceptions: c =3D Engl= ish sh g =3D always hard as in the English girl h =3D preferably hard, lik= e the Arabic h j =3D soft, as in the French jaune r =3D preferably slightly= rolled, as in the French r=EAve q, w, x and y do not exist in Niu Spi

=85= 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 an= d few breaks between words, so such sounds present no problem when practise= d as part of the phrase in which they occur.

=85 In two syllable words su= ch as biole (living thing) and griape (farmer) the first syllable is slight= ly 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 bl= ocks for my own language I thought I would run some of the basics of it pas= t 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 re= turn at the beginning of April.

I’ve no idea what sort of reception my mus= ic 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 teacher= s are already rehearsing their music and so far their reaction has been pos= itive.



– Christopher Marshall - composer


Fast links: Interglossa » Glosa »

World Premiere - Committee on language planning, FIAS. Coordination: Vergara & Hardy, PhDs.