# The Tongan notation

The Tongan notation was introduced by James Egan Moulton, one of the Methodist missionaries came to Tonga in the 19th century. It is based on “tonic sol-fa” system in which syllables (do, re, mi …) are assigned to the notes. The Tongan notation followed the “movable-do” system in which the “do” moves according to the key. As a result, the interval between the notes (e.g. do-mi) remains the same regardless of the key. For instance, in key C, “do” is C and in key D, “do” is the D.

The Tongan notation’s names were derived from the Tongan numbers’ names. For instance, the number 3 is “tolu”. Therefore the tonic for any key is number 3 and it called “to”, the first syllable of the number 3 “tolu”. One of the advantages for using the numbers is; the number’s value showed the bitch of each note in relation to each other. For instance, the number 5 is bigger than 4 therefore in a same octave the note “ni” (5) is higher than “fa” (4) and the “to” (3) is lower than “fa” (4).

There are seven note number names in Tongan notations, 3 (to), 4 (fa), 5 (ni), 6 (‘o), 7 (tu), 8 (va), and 9 (hi). In the key C major, the 3 (to) is the C note. The 4 (fa) is the D note and so forth. The upper C is a 3 (to) with a dot on top to indicate it is the upper octave. Likewise, the lower octave notes are marked with a dot or hook under the numbers.

The Tongan notations names in C major

 Key C C D E F G A B C Solfege do re mi fa sol la ti do’ Tongan numbers 3 tolu 4 fa 5 nima 6 ono 7 fitu 8 valu 9 hiva 3’ tolu Tongan notation 3 to 4 fa 5 ni 6 ‘o 7 tu 8 va 9 hi 3’ to