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Old 2010-09-14, 15:04   Link #1
bloppyblue
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What makes Japanese music different from American music? (specifically, rock)

My friends and I are planning on writing a couple songs and we arrived at the question of what makes Japanese music sound the way it does, compared to English music here in North America...

We've noticed the obvious; There are a lot more female singers in j-rock bands and generally the songs are more happy (instead of about impending doom and death and other people's doom and their death).

What makes Japanese rock sound so much different than North American rock?
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Old 2010-09-16, 21:08   Link #2
white wing
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wait i thought american rock is just quite as happy as well, just which bands sang about impending doom or death?

i thought that only exists in heavy metal
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Old 2010-09-16, 21:53   Link #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by white wing View Post
wait i thought american rock is just quite as happy as well, just which bands sang about impending doom or death?

i thought that only exists in heavy metal
Well there are a lot of Heavy Metal bands around in America, so it would not be a surprise that theres so many Heavy Metal music.

Hmmm *starts thinking* This is a tough one...
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Old 2010-09-16, 22:47   Link #4
kuroishinigami
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Lots of Engrish in Japanese music, but no japanish in American music :P. Joking aside, I can't really spell the difference between the two, but somehow to me the nuance in the song is always different.
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Old 2010-09-16, 23:04   Link #5
Vexx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bloppyblue View Post
My friends and I are planning on writing a couple songs and we arrived at the question of what makes Japanese music sound the way it does, compared to English music here in North America...

We've noticed the obvious; There are a lot more female singers in j-rock bands and generally the songs are more happy (instead of about impending doom and death and other people's doom and their death).

What makes Japanese rock sound so much different than North American rock?
Japanese rock is much more willing to cross and mix so-called musical motifs ...so you'll hear 'jazz', 'piano', odd musical transitions, pop inflections and heavy metal in the same song. They take all the elements they hear and mix them without any preconceptions.

It tends to throw western ears off initially but I find a lot of similarity between '80s rock-pop groups and much of what I find spinning the dial of japanese pop and rock.
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Old 2010-09-16, 23:08   Link #6
ChainLegacy
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I don't really listen to mainstream American music (or Japanese, lol), so my interpretation might be a little weird. Some of the Japanese music I enjoy are funk/jazz fusion artists like Tetsuo Sakurai. What I find different from American music is their strict adherence to PERFECT timing and less based on flashy soloing. The result is that most Japanese musical virtuosos I've come across have an almost mathematical approach to how they play music, whereas in America this is important but not as emphasized.
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Old 2010-09-17, 06:42   Link #7
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Is this about commercially pushed/successful artists? If that is the case, both american and japanese, and every other country, music is heavily manufactured. What you see and hear in TV and radio probably does not represent what is going out there. The happy stuff you you hear coming from japan is probably only things that are currently successful, same as with the gloomy music in america.
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Old 2010-09-17, 07:14   Link #8
white wing
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Originally Posted by Sides View Post
Is this about commercially pushed/successful artists? If that is the case, both american and japanese, and every other country, music is heavily manufactured. What you see and hear in TV and radio probably does not represent what is going out there. The happy stuff you you hear coming from japan is probably only things that are currently successful, same as with the gloomy music in america.
that is quite true but then we have to look into either the underground music or some older stuff

well when i listen to some older stuff like loudness, i can't really tell how is that any different from old american hard rock. And if you listen to some more underground stuff, you wouldn't really realize any difference from a band of the same genre in the US i think.

imo, what makes it different is more mainstream music like scandal, yui, etc. and how they incorporate more pop, metal, blues, etc. elements into their rock music.

also, visual kei, there is almost nothing like it in the US, especially the make-ups, costumes, sure they are influenced by glam rock and glam metal, but the stylings are pretty different, and they play power metal stuff, not glam metal or rock
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Old 2010-09-17, 11:52   Link #9
ChainLegacy
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I listen mainly to people I consider virtuosos with their music. It is an important point Sides makes; there is popular music, 'high-talent' instrumentalism, club music, etc which are all probably quite different.
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Old 2010-09-17, 12:10   Link #10
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There's one japanese artist I listen to that I can only characterize as "coffeehouse jazz beat avant garde". Her name is Ua (which makes her hard to search for ).
Then there's japanese ska (e.g. Yum Yum Orange, etc)... and Kotoko and her trance/techno music...
That '80s style crossover rock/pop girl band stuff (e.g. Zone, Scandal, etc)....

But then there's the never-ending Corporate Soft Pop machine that seems a softer version of "Z100" forgettable artist churn bleh. A fair amount of anime theme songs fall into this ear-mush category. It can get onerous picking through that for an occasional gem.

Of course, one can bop over to Enka or traditional folk and festival music but I don't think the OP is headed that way
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Old 2010-09-17, 13:09   Link #11
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Is the question HOW they sound different, or what makes that happen? It seems like others have answered the first question well enough.

The second question has a simple answer: cultural evolution. There are some tendencies in modern Japanese music that are drawn from the older folk tradition. There are chord progressions that you notice variations of commonly in Japanese music that rarely surface in Western music of any sort, for instance. However, just as much of modern Japanese musical identity is shaped by the fact that traditions that had decades or centuries to evolve in the West were suddenly thrust on them first in the latter part of the 19th century during the Meiji Era, and then again during the post-WWII occupation of Japan by Britain and the USA. Musical forms that had time to be codified into entire distinct genres in the West were all thrown in one big pot when the Japanese experienced them for the first time. As such, much of the independent music in Japan is wide-open in terms of genre. Japanese Hip-Hop incorporates Breakbeat, Jazz, Orchestral and Japanese folk elements, for instance.
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Old 2010-09-18, 09:48   Link #12
bloppyblue
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Ah, a lot makes more sense now that I've read and thought about this. I haven't really noticed it until now, but yeah, Western music tends to have more of a defined genre whereas Japanese music tends to mesh a lot together.

Would that technically mean that Japanese song-writers are more knowledgeable about more aspects and styles of music than American song-writers?

I guess I should do more research on patterns of chord progressions as well. It'd be interesting to see how people would react to those Eastern chord progressions Ricky_Controversy mentioned.
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Old 2010-09-18, 10:18   Link #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bloppyblue View Post
Would that technically mean that Japanese song-writers are more knowledgeable about more aspects and styles of music than American song-writers?
No, or it really depends on the writer and his background and what stuff he/she is into.
For example if you take the fun lovin' criminals you'll notice that they are influenced by several different sounds. If you want to write music just do your own thing, unless you want to make it commercially successful. In that case you probably want a producer to butt in and mix your sound to make it sellable, for the current market.
But back to your question, most people i know listen to variety of stuff, from good old blues to foreign music, just to find their own sound.
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Old 2010-09-27, 23:26   Link #14
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im just thinking that females would generate more fan base from the male population.

is there an anime where almost all the chars are men? ( i guess maybe hentalia), but its much less.
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Old 2010-09-28, 00:07   Link #15
Pocky Yoshi
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What makes Japanese music different from American music? (specifically, rock)
Well, where do I start for american music?

Hip-hop/rap is not as original as it used to be. I'll hear some new joints that are cool. Then, I'll hear something unbearable. How can some of the new cats sell records that are about the same topic. Cars, money, girls, etc. The topic itself is to be expected, but when some of them rap on it, it just feels unoriginal. I could go on, but I'll stop here.

Pop just grows and evolves. No problems on this end.

Rock. It seems just fine. I just don't know many Rock artists I like.

R~n~b. I feel as though some r~n~b songs are starting to get slightly meh.
I'm noticing that some of the songs of this genre, seems to parallel with hip-hop/rap.
In terms of unoriginality. However, it's more bearable than rap at least for now.

Japanese.....well even though I could list artists and what not, but let's break down genres I listen to. (I can't understand what they're saying for the most part, but they're music is quite soothing IMHO)


J-hip-hop/rap. I don't listen to it. It's just because I never really cared too much for it. However, it seems okay.

J-pop. All I can say is this was my first genre I fell for.

J-rock. Same with this one.

J-r~n~b. Liking it so far.


That's all I'll list for now.
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Old 2010-09-28, 02:42   Link #16
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school food punishment goes pretty crazy with the cross genre while being primarily rock.

They're also effing amazing.
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Old 2010-09-28, 12:27   Link #17
Hiroi Sekai
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It's in Japanese instead of English/other languages. XD

Anyways, being serious, I'm a big fan of both Japanese songs and English classic rock (I think I have about 5700 songs right now), and I notice a few things that are different:

- Japanese rap is something I can often tolerate, while English rap is something I loathe. Why? Japanese rap usually has a good melody in the back, while English rap always has those high-pitched synth noises (and is super repetitive). Ugh, I hate our radio.

- If we're talking about modern music, I notice that a lot of English artists are dabbling with Auto-Tune (which in my opinion, makes them sound like a retarded robot), and the songs are slowly losing their instrumental value. Back in the good days (the early 50s to the late 80s), people loved songs in their entirety. Nowadays, people like the singers (who honestly knows any of the members that plays for Lady Gaga's music?) Japanese music has this problem as well at times, but I love how most of their songs are still strong in their instrumentals.

- Oh yes, I love to rant about how bad our radio station is. I'm not lying here, it plays like the same 15 artists/songs over and over ALL DAY. They talk in between to keep it from being boring (and fail miserably). Back to the music, I notice a LOT of these are remixes from older songs (oh, the pain). Examples?:

- Madonna's "Time Goes By So Slowly" has a famous synth riff that is directly taken from ABBA's "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).

- As the title suggests, Eminem's "Dream On (Remix)" places rap onto Aerosmith's beloved "Dream On". My body hurts.

- Gym Class Heroes' "Cupid's Chokehold" has a really annoying remixed chorus taken from Supertramp's "Breakfast in America". That remix just kills my childhood.

- Karl Wolf has a really modernized version of "Africa" that takes out most of the African-themed instrumentals of the original song, which was done by Toto.


Well, those are the 4 that really bother me. My point? English music (though not always true) is starting to get sloppy. Why would you try to profit off of someone else's song? Make your own songs; it's difficult to write entire songs, but it's NOT difficult to keep it different from other songs.

My other point from that rant was that I keep downloading modern Japanese music, and I don't have two songs that sound alike. Boy, am I thankful for the diversity of the Japanese music industry~

Now that I've mentioned those radio songs again, I'm going to attempt to filter it out by listening to my entire 5932 song library (finally looked at the count). See you in like a month XD
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Old 2010-09-29, 12:28   Link #18
matteas
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I don't know if anybody has said something similar already, but I think that Japanese songs in general are made of more sounds and are much more elaborate. I mean, the songs have richer background full of various sub-melodies and extra sounds. On the contrary, western music tends to use less sounds and usually sticks only to the main instruments played by the band members. But of course, there are exceptions among Japanese bands such as one of my favorite bands, Soutaiseiriron, whose appeal lays in the simple melodies and enchanting voice of the vocalist, and also in the lyrics.
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Old 2010-09-29, 15:05   Link #19
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Originally Posted by papermario13689 View Post
Well, those are the 4 that really bother me. My point? English music (though not always true) is starting to get sloppy. Why would you try to profit off of someone else's song? Make your own songs; it's difficult to write entire songs, but it's NOT difficult to keep it different from other songs.
I'm going to assume you don't know what sampling is.


On topic, I honestly think that there isn't any difference other than language. You're all basing your opinion on a specific band(s) that has it's own style. That's not going to work especially not in a sense when you are comparing two different countries that has millions of sounds.

Last edited by qwertyuiopz; 2010-09-29 at 15:18.
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Old 2010-09-29, 15:42   Link #20
Dilla
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I'm going to assume you don't know what sampling is.
I swear, sampling is the most misunderstood process in music ever. And hip hop isn't the only genre that does it either, it's common in most other genres as well.

Remember Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve? Sampled from 'The Last Time' by the Rolling Stones. I remember it raised a pretty big stink.

I'm a Western music guy, but I haven't really listened to mainstream music all that much nowadays. I still have my favorites, but it's easier to find good stuff to listen to online. I would say that about 80% of the music on my IPod are either from the ninties or artists I discovered via Youtube.

Last edited by Dilla; 2010-09-29 at 15:57.
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