Japanese music

Highlights from the 2013 Calgary Omatsuri

We couldn't have asked for a better day for the third-annual Calgary Japanese Festival. I had a blast documenting the Omatsuri and interviewing the performers. Check out the first article in my 2013 Omatsuri series.

Explore Japanese Culture at the 2013 Calgary Japanese Festival

If you're looking for some entertainment in Calgary this month that has fun for the whole family, check out the Calgary Japanese Summer Festival, or the Calgary Omatsuri on August. 17, 2013.

Album Review - My Road - Songs from Guin Saga

An album review of My Road - Songs from Guin Saga, featuring J-pop artist Kanon. She sang the haunting ED for Guin Saga, the anime. VG composer Nobuo Uematsu composed the soundtrack for the anime.

The Anime Music on Melodica Project

My latest otaku learning project - playing video game and anime theme songs on the melodica.

What a Difference Time Makes

It's amazing how much of a difference time makes.Pieces get stronger and diction improves like magic. Well, magic in the form of practice, that is. I first performed つばさ を ください ("Tsubasa wo kudasai" - "Please Give Me Wings") in the Spring of 2011 before I enrolled in Japanese language classes. Considering that my おとうと and I had approximately a week to throw this charity performance together, it didn't go too badly. Musically, I should have sang it in a lower key to fully utilize my chest voice, but whatever.

Here's the performance from the 2011 Calgary Hana matsuri:

We performed it last week at my music studio's winter showcase. Let me tell you, I worked hard on my pronunciation! My hand was forever moving to shape the phrase just as sensei does in class with our sentences. I grilled myself on "tsu" and "hatamekase" ad nauseum. For an additional challenge, I "misplaced" my romaji and typed out the lyrics and chords in Hiragana:

This year's challenge: Can I read the kana fast enough to sing the lyrics AND play the music in tempo? Photo by R-M Arca.

During rehearsals, we experimented with a couple of things. For instance, we knew we still wanted to pay homage to Megumi Hayashibara's version from Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance [Blu-ray]. We also wanted to direct a nod to K-On! from their FUWAFUWA TIME mini-album.

The fun thing about music is that it's organic. We can personalize it and make it our own. The ending was one of those on-the-spot ideas that popped up mid-rehearsal - and it stuck.

Here's the performance. Sure, I repeated a line twice since I blanked out on "とんで ゆきたい よ", but who cares? It didn't lead to a train wreck and still worked out. People enjoyed it and that's all that matters when all's said and done. Oh and I think I can pat myself on the back for improving upon my pronunciation. やった!


Levelling Up My Japanese

When I first sang a Japanese song at karaoke, I read off a sheet that I printed with the lyrics in Romaji. It was truly a magical moment last year, when I cracked open my Inuyasha music book and could actually read the lyrics to one of my fave songs: I did the happy dance when I realized that I could read the Japanese characters to one of my favourite songs in real time (that is, in time to the music). Photo by R-M Arca.

What a difference a year makes! Now that I'm in Level 2, I have truly levelled up. These are the chords and lyrics to a song that I will be performing in the near future:

This year's challenge: Can I read the kana fast enough to sing the lyrics AND play the music in tempo? Photo by R-M Arca.

Now I could bring the Romaji and keep it close by. However, that defeats the purpose of being able to perform music in Japanese. Go big or go home.

The next challenge of course will be comprehension [Must work on vocabulary!].