Since my enka translation project went decently well, I decided to apply the idea to other genres. These are foreign-language songs, arranged and wholly or partially performed in English, along with analyses of the songs and the translation process.
Enka: The Japanese Spirit in Translation
These are original arrangements and English translations of iconic songs from the Japanese musical genre known as enka, together with some thoughts on lyrical and musical translation. While initially envisioned as a full album, ultimately two songs came of the project, though I have since carried my interest in musical translation outside the genre.
I also have a summary of this project, which doubles as an essay on translatability and the role of enka.
Funding for this project was generously provided by the Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Memorial Fund.
Songs that I've written.
Music for short animations
Over the past couple years I've had the opportunity to score a handful of short student animations for classes at Dartmouth. Most of these pieces are stored on the animator's YouTube channel; the links will open in a new tab.
Another beautiful, meditative loop animation by Nuith, featuring a captivating layering technique. The drone is a detuned modulated synth pad vocoded with a long "om". I like the flute, not because of how playfully unprofessional (and/or not good) it is, but because I started learning flute a couple months ago so I could someday use it in compositions, and that has already come to fruition. As with the below animation, I highly recommend watching it on loop and letting your mind fly /swim along. If anyone wants the video since YouTube's not very good at looping, feel free to request it by email.
This is the animation score I was happiest with. I recommend watching it loop meditatively for a short while as you might the rain. Unfortunately YouTube is not generally good with looping seamlessly, so if anybody wants, the clip can be downloaded here. (You may have to right-click the link and select "Save target as".)
An animation of a narrated segment from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-tale Heart". My first animation score.
This was an experiment for me -- I might call the style "world music" but it was really just an attempt to imitate music from the Lion King. I think it went well, up until the poor transition to the outro where I chant in Zulu. I found the Zulu in a phrasebook somewhere; I don't remember what it was. So if anybody speaks Zulu and what I'm saying makes any sense, I'd be very curious to know...
A very cool animation about a man trapped in a room. This was my first attempt at doing more incidental music. I think it does a decent job of setting a creepy mood, which came as a bit of a surprise to the animator (and is admittedly at odds with the mood of title screen). A different score could have given this piece such a different feel.
This is a fun short clip filled with drama and emotion. The music wishes it were Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet.
Covers of non-English music
I love exploring music in other languages. It's both great language practice and a world of unexplored musical territory (and also a world of tired, over-explored territory that sounds fresh and exciting because sure, you've heard that progression a thousand times -- but have you ever heard it in Japanese?)
Here I've uploaded a few covers, not because my arrangements are anything to make a YouTube video about, but because I've provided (non-lyrical) translations and written about the interesting aspects of the song's use of language, or how that usage does or doesn't get lost in translation. Bear in mind that these writeups were written at various stages of my language study and are not meant to be professional translations. If you see a mistake, have a better translation or a native speaker's perspective, or catch me making up nonsense, please let me know!