Random piano music + stuff

August 17, 2009

I found some random Japanese piano music (applique and akatsuki works) on a forum I frequent and was pleasantly surprised when I listened to it. It actually sounded like a score from a video game, notably sounding like the soundtrack for Eternal Sonata of which I have also listened to. I don’t really listen to too much instrumental stuff but this album is pretty simple and relaxing stuff which I need. My only gripe is that the tracks all sound too similar, with minor variations to differentiate one song from another. Can’t have too much of a good thing though… right?

I have also been playing a lot of Tales of Vesperia for x360 lately and I realized that the voice acting has improved over Tales of Symphonia by leaps and bounds unless I have gotten used to the dodgy (admittedly difficult) translation jobs that JRPGs are so well known for. There are so many subtle aspects of Japanese culture that are programmed into the game dialogue that makes series like Tales very difficult to translate effectively. The VAs also don’t really understand how to voice certain situations very well due to the lackluster translation in Symphonia. In Vesperia the translation work seems to be better done, making the VA more convincing and more likable.

All in all, not much happening in my life really, just trying to keep distracted from things I should be doing just because I can.

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I wrote something which started good but ended badly, so I would like to focus on language today. The English language is not really a pretty language, it is too complex and contains a very inconsistent system of rules. No matter how people seem to twist the words around, it still does not sound very musical and requires a lot of work for anything to turn out just right. Because of the complexity of the English language, with some words being impossible to rhyme ie “orange” and “animal”, writing original songs after hundreds of years of recycling the same words is a challenge at best.

In my experience there are 2 languages which facilitate original songwriting very well; Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. Japanese language is very structured and is actually very easy to learn because of the strict rules in terms of syntax and the organization of its alphabet. It is very easy to find rhymes for words, making lyrics very easy to write. Furthermore, some words have double meanings and some phrases have associated historical relevance, making it easier to write powerfully. It is for this reason that I like listening to Japanese songs more than English ones. The imagery in jpop is just so much richer than that of it’s English counterparts. Of course I can probably find an English song with my desired level of imagery but as I said before, English is such a cumbersome beast of a language.

Probably the only thing that trumps Japanese music is Mandarin Chinese music. The language is so powerful because one word says so much. Unfortunately, for the amount of people in China and Taiwan (>1 billion) they sure don’t pump out very many good singers nor do they write many good songs that have stuck in my head. The lyrics all seem very reminiscent of western culture and that is disappointing, especially when compared to Japanese songs which so often includes snapshots of its rich culture in the lyrics. The only Mandarin singer I love is David Tao, everybody else is really just average.

I actually would like to write something in Chinese or Japanese, but I just don’t have a strong enough grasp of either language to do so. The best I can do is to emulate the style and imagery using English which does fall very short of the bar. The poem I wrote actually has nothing to do with this post, but here it is anyways!

heavenly hearts

god gave us hearts-
and that is why i live with hope
and not despair;
maybe tomorrow i shall know you better
than not at all.

his eyes are the stars in the sky
and the dewdrops on the grass,
i am jealous that he
watches over you
better than i.

god gave us life
to live as freely as we choose,
but sometimes,
our hearts decide
who we give ourselves to.

likewise,
our hearts decide
who we receive and reject
and sometimes-
you may not be enough.

god gave me you
so i could learn to love like him-
a gift is a gift, i expect nothing in return;
i will pray instead
that he continues to love you
as much as i do.

Back in the day, people used to write each other with what we might have called words and sentences, language was rich and people knew how to spell. Today, we have text messaging, books like twilight and harry potter selling millions of copies despite its lack of literary value and usage of net speak in everyday speech (of which I am guilty of myself). What has happened to the English language? I don’t proclaim to be a literary expert but I have read and written my share and know good writing when I read it.

Recently I have laid my eyes on a copy of “Twilight” and asked my friend to share with me its contents just for a quick skim. Honest to God, while I was reading, my brain must have fallen asleep due to boredom because I could not remember a single thing from skimming a full page. The book is full of what appears to be description but none of it evokes any emotion or imagery in my mind; it is as though the author just decided to insert lists inside his sentences. Here is an example:

I could see in the distance, two intersections down, streetlamps, cars, and more pedestrians, but they were all too far away.

What the hell is that? How does that sentence even make sense? The persona can see into the distance which was by his own admission too far away. Sense it makes none! Not only is this so called description non-descriptive, it also does not make logical sense. The book is full of phrases like this and I fail to see how writing so bland could go on to sell so well as to have a motion picture dedicated to it (which was also absolutely shithouse might I add). Allow me to rewrite the above sentence so that it becomes more interesting:

“The street was lined with streetlamps and cars; it teemed with pedestrians bustling to and fro for two intersections down, until they escaped my range of vision.”

Granted my version is by no means a literary masterpiece but you would have to agree that it sounds less list-like and more like proper narrative. Admittedly “Twilight” was not written as an adult novel, but if this is the type of material that we feed school children then I fear that the English language is headed towards dark days indeed. Whatever happened to the Roald Dahls and Enid Blytons that filled me with awe and wonder whenever I read as a child? I have read free e-books which were much more entertaining than Twilight!

I used to think that a good novel was based on unique storylines, engaging dialogue, or even interesting imagery. Now all it looks like all that constitutes a good book is how well it is marketed.

My thoughts exactly

My thoughts exactly