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 Japanese music: is it awkward to western ears?

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muckie
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PostSubject: Japanese music: is it awkward to western ears?   Sat May 16, 2015 5:20 am

I was wondering if those who've listened to japanese music, be it pop, rock, etc. find some of its nuances to be a bit awkward like the stylized vocals, the melodies, etc.? I've listened to j-music extensively for almost 15 years now and definately notice the differences vs its western inspirations.
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Runicen
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PostSubject: Re: Japanese music: is it awkward to western ears?   Mon May 18, 2015 1:11 pm

That depends on the artist you're talking about. I've heard some stuff that was basically crap western music with Japanese lyrics over it. In that case, not unless you're really put off by non-English singing.

Now, there are others whom I respect the hell out of who find ways to mix more traditional Japanese melodic ideas over western musical styles. I've only encountered a few of these and some acts seem to only do it sometimes, but Ayumi Hamasaki is particularly adept at this. Lovely music, but every once in a while, your brain goes, "I don't think that works."

Granted, this is still really streamlined versions of traditional Japanese music, and not the core material, but it's still a cool hybrid. I could understand how stuff like that could put off a western listener who wasn't remotely familiar with eastern music.
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PostSubject: Re: Japanese music: is it awkward to western ears?   Mon May 18, 2015 1:25 pm

Music is really just language and the vocabulary is very different between Western and Eastern music. If you have no experience with it then it's liable to sound completely foreign, but I think with some study people could acclimate to it. But, how many people really want to "study" music these days? Maybe .0004% of the entire population? You can't even get the average joe to appreciate instrumental music...


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MetalGuy71
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PostSubject: Re: Japanese music: is it awkward to western ears?   Mon May 18, 2015 3:33 pm

The only Japanese music I'm familiar with would be Loudness and EZO. Their lack-of-English skills gave both bands a certain charm that I liked.

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muckie
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PostSubject: Re: Japanese music: is it awkward to western ears?   Tue May 19, 2015 3:25 am

Runicen wrote:
That depends on the artist you're talking about.  I've heard some stuff that was basically crap western music with Japanese lyrics over it.  In that case, not unless you're really put off by non-English singing.

Now, there are others whom I respect the hell out of who find ways to mix more traditional Japanese melodic ideas over western musical styles.  I've only encountered a few of these and some acts seem to only do it sometimes, but Ayumi Hamasaki is particularly adept at this.  Lovely music, but every once in a while, your brain goes, "I don't think that works."  

Granted, this is still really streamlined versions of traditional Japanese music, and not the core material, but it's still a cool hybrid.  I could understand how stuff like that could put off a western listener who wasn't remotely familiar with eastern music.

You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned Ayumi. Although I do get annoyed at times with the tendency for J-rock bands to use the warbly, vibrato vocals. That seems to have been popularized by Kyosuke Himuro from Boowy (one of my favorite bands) except that Himuro pulls it off well enough and some are just flat out annoying. I've heard David Silvain from the UK group JAPAN was also an influence on this type of singing, and possibly David Bowie too.

Also, there is/was a guy on Amazon from Japan who reviewed Japanese CDs in english and said he didn't listen to a lot of western music because it lacked a 'unique japanese melody' but cited Simon and Garfunkel as an exception. I guess it's just what seems normal to you when you are raised in that culture. Marty Friedman, who is a big j-music fan, talks about it in this video:

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Runicen
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PostSubject: Re: Japanese music: is it awkward to western ears?   Tue May 19, 2015 8:41 am

David Sylvian, himself, is an interesting character on his own when it comes to sounds "awkward to western ears." I don't even like a fair chunk of what he's done lately (Blemish is a HARD listen as an album), but I respect the fact that he pretty much goes, "Convention? $#@% that!" every other album he puts out.


I am curious to know how much of his vocal style influenced Japanese singers vs. how much he was influenced by Japanese singers or Bowie. I think, in this case, all roads lead back to Bowie.
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Lari
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PostSubject: Re: Japanese music: is it awkward to western ears?   Tue May 19, 2015 8:52 am

Could someone provide a sample of Japanese-sung rock?
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muckie
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PostSubject: Re: Japanese music: is it awkward to western ears?   Tue May 19, 2015 9:03 am

I think Kiyoharu (the vocalist of Kuroyume) was definately influenced by Sylvain. And Kuroyume was very influential on the Visual Kei scene in the 90's, but Kyosuke Himuro and even Hironobu Kageyama (from Lazy) had some of that style long before.

Lari wrote:
Could someone provide a sample of Japanese-sung rock?




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PostSubject: Re: Japanese music: is it awkward to western ears?   Tue May 19, 2015 7:12 pm

Another example of Japanese weirdness:
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PostSubject: Re: Japanese music: is it awkward to western ears?   Tue May 19, 2015 8:23 pm

No - to the question.
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