Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Culture in Songs

I like to listen to music and I listen to one kind of music or another all the time when I'm out of office. This habit started a couple of years ago right after I got back to Tokyo from a late summer trip around the northern European countries. The trigger was when one of the travelers whom my friend and I shared a compartment with on the sleeper lent me his MD player while we were waiting for a train in Duisburg. When I wore the headphones the normal station scene in early morning suddenly turned dramatic. It felt like I was thrown into a music video, and this is how I became unable to cut myself apart from carrying music.

Well, so much for that. What I wanted to write today was how I subconsicously identify my home culture to be Japanese through Japanese music.
Half of the music I listen to is from outside of Japan, mostly sung in English language, and I do catch and understand the lyrics but I feel like it's still on the surface level. I feel like I have to do some "read-b/w-the-lines" when I try to truly understand the lyrics.

Whereas for Japanese music especially songs, I sympathize with them really comfortably. It is largely for the lyrics aside from memories that I like J-pop music. The lyrics are pretty straightforward in terms of words, yet a lot of the songs (I like) sing about little things/emotions that anyone can experience. For me it's easy to either tie them with personal experience or to imagine a "rich" scene with emotion, not just the picture.

Masterpiece music have masterpiece lyrics in any language, so I think the difference comes from not the depth of language knowledge but how much time I've spent with the languages in question. I am quite comfortable reading, writing and speaking in English and being an enthusiastic traveler as well as a daughter of an ex-expat I am also comfortable in becoming acquainted with other cultures, but at the same time, though, I was raised in a Japanese family in this language.

The music-lyric thought is just one of the moments when I reassure the feeling that my identity is more closely tied to Japan than any other one.

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