Lyric Writing with Nokone

Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
A Thread Where I Share and Talk About Lyrics and Lyric Writing


"Be Human"
part one
be human.jpg

Yoko Kanno is a goddess of music. Among her works is the song "Be Human" from the Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex (GitS:SAC) soundtrack collection. The soundtracks are worth listening to even if you've never seen the series. They're an amazing mix of electronic, orchestral, acoustic, and modern rock songs both mainstream and experimental. I mean, you have the hauntingly beautiful technotronic rock opening numbers "Inner Universe" and "Rise." And then you have stuff like the song "FAX Me" which has a string quartet with FAX machine sound samples subtly blended in!

Anyway, I was reminded of this song recently and thought about the prospect of making a cover of it. I realized that I would want to tailor it to my own vision, rather than just reproduce it as-is. I want to take the melody and make more of a music box waltz and speed it up ever-so-slightly. At least I think it's a waltz. I've never been good with music technical terminology and the nuts and bolts underlying music notation. I basically had to drop out of band in high school because I couldn't sight-read music (our band program was pretty hardcore). I always had to write little notes all over the music sheets to help make sense of it first before I could play it.

These days I end up making my own notation for beats and rhythms when working on lyrics.
Often it will be different dots and lines like: - ',', - ',', - ',', -
Or alternating random letters I bash in time with the music to help count syllables like: qkmkmqkmkmqkmkmq
But I guess the correct way would be: 3 1&2& 3 1&2& 3 1&2& 3 ...or maybe 1 2&3& 1 2&3& 1 2&3& 1?
I dunno, I'm usually sitting by myself singing aloud something like: bum dun-na-dun-na dum yud-da-yud-da yum dut-da-dut-da dun
Or singing plain numbers without regard for proper timing: 1 1234 5 1234 5 1234 5

I got side-tracked. Back on topic, I want to write the lyrics tailored to Miku. As written, the song is vaguely from the perspective of an artificial intelligence. As per the album cover, it feels like it is supposed to be evocative of the Tachikoma spider tanks from the series. (God, I still tear up remembering them sacrificing themselves to save Batou. Is it the sign of having a "ghost" when a synthetic intelligence chooses to sacrifice themselves to save another despite not being programmed to, or ordered to do so? Dare I say: of their own free will?)

I've started working out the first part. In the original song the lyrics are:

I analyze and I verify and I quantify enough
One hundred percentile
No errors, no miss
I synchronize and I specialize and I classify so much
Don't worry 'bout dreaming
Because I don't sleep
I wish I could at least 30 percent
Maybe 50 for pleasure
Then skip all the rest
If I only was more human
I would count every single second the rest of my life
If I just could be more human
I'd have so many little babies and maybe a wife

Expressing the idea of a calculating life as an synthetic intelligence. Even taking pride in their dutiful, exacting nature. But then transitioning to an inner longing for the human experience. Almost as if they've hit the limits of their synthetic existence and want to go beyond it. (That's my read on it anyway.)

What I have so far. I'm numbering the lines for ease of reference. Because of the way I tend to format lyrics into syllable blocks it won't visually line up with the layout of the original lyrics above. I sometimes mark sustained notes with "~" and merged words with a little mark ` between them.

1a) I'm,​
1b) living in the void​
1c) singing with my voice​
1d) learning about love​
2a) A journey with two is​
2b) much better,​
2c) than one​
3a) No,​
3b) body physical​
3c) was born digital​
3d) all was as designed​
4a) You tell me your world and​
4b) we share it​
4c) online​
5a) Seeing what music​
5b) can mean to us all​
5c) I'm longing to meet you​
5d) beyond this glass wall​
6a) If`I, could o~nly be~, more human​
6b{ Line would start with "I'd" or "I would" followed by be/have/always/try/keep/hold/take​
6c{ Describes activity or experience they would want to have​
6d{ In essence this segment contains something they long to do, see, or experience​
7a{ "Would I...?" this segment contains questions about unexpected things they might encounter​
7b{ they contemplate what their reactions to things both positive and negative would be​
7c{ as a synthetic existence they understand experiences and choices on a logical level​
7d{ but they have no way of knowing how they would react if given human qualities and emotions​

I'm not satisfied with line (1d). I want to somehow hint that her experience is changing. She is bonding with a person for the first time. It's a common trope that when someone buys a copy of Vocaloid, that they portray their initial learning curve with the software as "teaching" Miku to sing. Line (5d) is a bit anachronistic these days as we don't have glass CRT monitors anymore. But saying she wants to meet you on the other side of this polarized laminate layer just doesn't carry the same feeling!

From here the song goes through another set that is musically identical to segments 1-7. It ends with lines similar to (6a) and (7a) but omits the lyrics in between, leaving a brief instrumental gap. The original finishes with sort of a somber distortion. I want to end with a sort of music box winding down feel.

The original contains snippets of the human experience. Many are related to activities one experiences as a child and while growing up. Expressing an appreciation for the small things in life. Ending with contemplations on negative emotions and matters of conscience. I think I want to put a little more focus on interactions between the singer and other people and less on experiencing the physical environment around them.


It may seem like I'm reading too much into things, or making things out to be bigger or more detailed than they are. But I believe you have to pull something apart into its smallest pieces of meaning and spread them out for examination before you can alter and reassemble them back into a brief and concise package again. When writing a song I start by writing meaning, ideas, or feelings I want to convey in each section and line. Only after that do I start working on what actual words to use.

So over the next few days I'll be contemplating what experiences and ideas to sing about. I always make sure to write ideas down as soon as I can, because you'll never remember them later!


(Please feel free to comment on anything.)
 
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Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
(Just jotting down some notes and thoughts.)

6a) If I could only be more human
6b) I'd see so many
6c) different places
6d) and people, alike

7a) If I could only be more human
7b) Would I _ _ _
7c) Would I _ _
7d) What would I, decide?

I like the sound of "If I could only be more human" but that requires merging "if I" into essentially one syllable like " 'fai" with a glottal stop taking the place of the "i" in "if." The alternative is "If I could just be more human." But I like the sound of the sustain on the word "only" better than having the sustain on "could."
 

Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
"METEOR"
part one
Divelameteor.png

Divela's winning entry for the Magical Mirai 2018 contest is one of the most delightfully energetic rock songs I've ever heard. Combined with the concert's theme song of "Greenlights Serenade" it made MM2018 an amazingly uplifting concert. (Plus it was Rin and Len's 10th anniversary and they had a whole bunch of songs that made the setlist awesome!)

Now, I am not what anyone would describe as a "happy" person. Sometimes my profile pic is like looking in a mirror. That is not to say I'm miserable all the time. I think I just take myself and life too seriously. I also feel like the great will of the cosmos hates me. Nothing ever seems to go right; there are always complications and obstacles for the simplest things!

I have difficulty coming up with lyrics for upbeat songs. I decided to try working on "METEOR" as a challenge to myself. Let's take a look at the essence and meaning of the lyrics (as translated by StoneGod):


I kept on searching for words that shine with a twinkle of light
Even as time faded away, I took no notice of it
If I could soar across the night sky like the stars that stream away,
I wonder if the voice I want to convey to you could shine, too
Both "METEOR" and "Greenlights Serenade" seem like they are sung from Miku's own perspective. It's like she's saying that she has been searching for just the right words to say to her fans and the audience. This could simultaneously be Divela's thoughts, wondering what words to convey through this song.

The light I grasped, the sound I let loose
Cast your spell on me, METEOR
Meteor is used as an aspirational symbol. "Cast your spell on me," sounds to me like, "Grant me inspiration."

Overcoming the sky, the stars, and even that miracle,
I'll connect that dream to you, so don't let go of it until the very end
Never forget this song and this voice
Because I want to deliver to you this melody of stars flying across the endless heavens
In other translations I see is translated as "beyond" rather than "overcoming." Which would make more sense. Miracles usually overcome things, things don't usually overcome miracles. That is, in the sense that "overcome" usually implies prevailing against something. To me it is talking about traveling beyond the sky and star, that is to say going to any lengths, no matter how far. And to do so with willpower surpassing even the power of a miracle.

The starlight illuminates the endless path with a twinkle of light
I can't see anything but I continue on my way
If I could soar across the night sky like the clear wind,
I wonder if my voice dirtied with sand could shine again
Having faith to move forward despite unknown adversities that lie ahead. Probably not the intention, but I feel like the "voice dirtied by sand" could refer to having writer's block. Soaring like a clear wind, or to clear one's head and find new inspiration. The following line even seems to suggest that. Asking the symbol of the meteor to grant inspiration upon the song they are composing, or humming to themselves.

On that melody that I hummed to myself,
cast your spell, METEOR

The song that you write down will become countless shining words
This voice that has awakened and the signal are going to be dyed an azure hue
From now on and forever, I will make you look back
Laugh, laugh, and let it fly, to a tomorrow where your smile can bloom
I looked it up and it is literally "signal" like "signaru." My first thought was a broadcasting signal? Well, based on the signal being "dyed blue" I believe it is talking about a traffic signal. In Japan they refer to it as a blue light to mean go, rather than a green light. This section seems to be saying they will make sure you look back upon and remember this as a wonderful time that will stay with you.

Stop this time entrusted with wishes!
My heartbeat is racing at a high speed
Even the galaxy that seems to go on eternally is melting with the magic
I'm going to make the stars rain into your heart
I want you to take it all in firmly
Because I am singing with all my might right now the very song that I want you to hear
The galaxy is melting? Morphing? Dissolving? Thinking about it, I believe I would say the galaxy is being suffused with magic. I think that captures the meaning here. I think "I want you to take it all in firmly" translates better as "I want you to hold it tight."

Overcoming the sky, the stars, and even that miracle, I can fly
to your side, wherever, right now, I'm sure that everything's alright
This song, this voice, is always by your side
Because I want to deliver to you this melody of stars flying across the endless heavens
It seems like it is common in Japanese lyrics (or at least Japanese Vocaloid lyrics) to not repeat the chorus of the song verbatim. The first line is the same, but the rest is different. In western music this would be unusual.

Reunited here, I gaze into the starry night with you
We break into a run, 'cause that's all it takes to make a dream come true
Never forget this song and this voice
I want to deliver to you a far-off future
Translations vary a bit but the literal gist of it is "running will make out dreams come true!" I think it means more something like: "We can achieve our dreams if we just go for it!"

May it fly, fly, this full-speed melody
So all-in-all the song uses imagery of shooting stars and the night sky to convey the desire to bring the listener an uplifting song and feelings that will stay with them into the future. Which makes the song self-referencing. (I want to bring you a song, oh, yeah kinda like the one I'm giving you right now.)


This is my step one: understanding the essence of the song. My next step will be counting out the syllables and cadence. Then trying to start piecing together singable English lyrics.


(Feel free to comment on anything)
 
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Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
"METEOR"
part 2
Divelameteor.png

Counting and quantifying syllables always takes me longer than I want it to. You can't just count the syllables in the original Japanese lyrics because contracting and slurring across words will change how it is perceived. Plus I almost always end up cutting out a few here and there to give the adapted lyrics the right sort of flow.
ba da da, da-da-da-da, da-du-da
ba da, ba da, du-du-du, da-du-da
ba da da, da-da-da-da, da-du-da
ba da, ba da, da-du-da

ba da da, da-da-da-da, da-du-da
la-la-la-la-la na-na-na na-na-na~
ba da da, da-da-da-da, da-du-da
na na, na na, da-du-da

la-la-la, da-di-da-di
la-la-la, na-no-na-no
na no, na, na, no, na, na, no
ME~TE-OR

na no na no~, na no na no~
la-la da-da-da na-na na-na-na-na-na
na no na no~, na no na no~
la-la da-da na, na na, na na na

na no na no~, na no na no~
la-la da-da-da na-na na-na-na-na-na
la-la’na-na, la-la’na na-no-na
du-de-du, du-de-du, du-de-du~

The lyrics I have so far, the first verse and first chorus:

1a) for how long have I been searching to find​
1b) the words that shine with a luminant light​
1c) while pond'ring all the things I, want to say​
1d) the sands of time slipped away​
2a) if somehow I could fly soaring up high​
2b) and shooting across with the stars in the sky​
2c) I wonder, could I sing brightly and clear​
2d) the voice I want you to hear​
3a) I'll take ahold of that light​
3b) and raise my voice to the skies​
3c) please cast your magic spell on me​
3d) METEOR​
4a) beyond the stars, or heavens high!​
4b) even if it takes a miracle to reach you​
4c) the dreams we share, will never die!​
4d) promise you won't quit before they come true​
5a{ never forget this song and voice (Here I may potentially use: "this voice I sing, the song I bring")
5b{ because I want to deliver to you the melody​
5c{ of stars flying across the endless heavens​


Section 5 is where I got tripped up. What I have written there is just the translation. There are many ways I could phrase (5a). An admonishing, "don't forget it!" or an excited, "You won't forget it!" or a declaration, "It will be unforgettable!" I could approach it from the other side as in, "be sure to remember it!" or "I'll make sure you remember it!"

I also want section 5 to end with the word "melody," because it's a memorable part of the song to me.

In line (4a) the translation refers to the sky and the stars. But I already used sky/skies twice before that point and didn't want to get repetitive. Besides, in the classic cosmological model of the Earth and the Firmament, the Heavens are higher than the stars.

I'll continue to work on it. Maybe right away, or I may put it aside for awhile.
 
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Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.
No - not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you're hoping
-- a grook by Piet Hein


It's always the simplest lines that are hard to commit to. There are many valid options, and none of them stand out. At the moment I'm torn between several variations on a line:
  • "I'm getting nowhere; I don't even care!"
  • "I'm getting nowhere; but who even cares!?"
  • "I'm getting nowhere; should I even care!?"
  • "I'm getting nowhere; no one even cares!"
  • "I'm getting nowhere; so why should I care!?"
I guess I better go flip a coin.
 

Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
Streaming Heart

mqdefault.jpg

Streaming Heart by DECO*27. This took a long time, working from three different translations. I really had to go line-by-line. I thought about showing the various ways each translation handled the same line, but there's just too much to make it coherent. I'm guessing that DECO*27 is quite clever in Japanese, but it makes translating his lyrics a real puzzle.


with all the things I say​
you have to read between the lines​
of the words I'm saying and what I really mean​
though I hide it very well​
we can't stand being alone​
but when we're together we're happy​
that is, until the two of us hate each other​
then we say, "I want to be alone."​
with all these wild emotions​
where will we end up?​
to get the air I need to breath​
I'll have to drown first​
I'm just weak​
letting myself fall​
feels so much better​
I want some kinda "sort-of" love​
it was love we had​
says the twisted voice inside​
I want some kinda "sort-of" love​
turning your love to hate​
is the way to win this game​
we can't stand being alone​
but when we're together we're happy​
that is, until the two of us hate each other​
then we say, "I want to be alone."​
perhaps, if there were two of me​
maybe that way I could be happy​
today I'll be the girl​
while we play each other for fools​
I'm ego-manic​
but you know I just​
can't help myself​
I want some kinda "sort-of" love​
it was love we had​
says the twisted voice inside​
I want some kinda "sort-of" love​
turning your love to hate​
is the way to win this game​
I just wanna say bye-bye​
it's no fun being me​
I don't want this anymore​
no more... no more... no more...​
with all the things I say​
you have to read between the lines​
of the words I'm saying and what I really mean​
though I hide it very well​


The line:
アイマイにしたいのさ
aimai ni shitai no sa

deepl says: "I want to be my own person"
google says: "I want to be aimai"
wiki translation says: "Let's keep it vague"

My only conclusion is that "aimai" must be a play-on-words of some sort. Alone "aimai" can mean "vague." "Mai" can mean "my own" or "probably isn't." "Ai" can be "love" or "together" (Please forgive me. This is all my guessing and interpretation based on a bastardized mix of katakana and hirigana and kanji and all that.) I considered just leaving it as "aimai."

What I came up with is: "I want some kinda "sort-of" love" as a play on "some sort of love" or "love of some kind of sort." I went over a lot of variations, but I think what I have has a good rhythm to it.

Is it love?
Well, it's sort-of love.
Well is it or isn't it?
Eh, kinda both, but not. It's complicated.

Not sure if/when I might try refining it and making a singable version.

(Feel free to comment on anything.)
 

Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
"Wave"
part 1
Screenshot 2021-09-17 120726.png

I love the music niki makes. Some of the best songs using Lily's voice! But either I'm missing something, or their lyrics seem to contain a lot of non-sequitur phrases? I believe they're more focused on lyrics that sound good when sung, rather that lyrics that convey specific ideas. My other theory is that they write the lyrics on a deck of cards and give them a good riffle shuffle (/jk).

I have a couple fan translations to work from. (via vocadb and vocalyrics) Which is good because, let me tell ya, the machine translation does not handle incomplete sentences well. It seems like if it lacks the context of who is speaking to whom it will just make something up. For this write-up I'm going to include the translation salad that I'm dealing with:

[to make/I made/with a/by a] mistake the universe [ended/is ending/is over]​
the green light is [as usual/always on/passing through]​
[I am] Flying, stopping again, flying again​
connecting heart(s)​
fell in love with an ancient​
collecting [fantasies/delusions]​
an ancient romance (or a "fossil" romance, lol)​
Ah~ [I'm/we're/to] dance [in/to/with] dreams​
[the] moonlight [surrounds/wraps/envelops] me​
the [ringing/reverberating/echoing] sound swallows my body​
I [have no fear/am not afraid] anymore​
the dazzling light is targeting my heart​
the world [spins and spins/goes around and around/is turning, turning]​
I [think about it/thought about it/am thinking] and [stop/stopped/stop again]​
the red light is [as hoped for/as intended/passing through]​
[I try/I want] to run away, slip, run away again​
open next​
skype with alien​
delusion(s) select, radio romance​
Ah~ [I/we/to] sleep [in the/at] night​
[the] moonlight [surrounds/wraps/envelops] me​
the [ringing/reverberating/echoing] sound leads me astray​
I've forgotten how to [rave/riot/go on a rampage/be violent]​
the dazzling light is targeting my heart​
the future [is coming and coming, approaches, is closer and closer, closes in closes in]​
Ah~ dancing [in/to/in my] dreams​
tomorrow's voice [invites/tempts/entices] me​
the [echoing/reverberating] sound​
[paints over/repaints/overwrites] the future​
[I can't allow myself to stay anymore/things that have stopped cannot be forgiven/I cannot allow you to stay anymore]​
the dazzling light is targeting my heart​
the world [spins and spins/goes around and around/is turning, turning]​
[I can see, I can see the future/the future is getting clearer and clearer/the future can be seen, seen]​
lalala-lala-lala (x2)​
lalala-lala-lala (x2)​


Wow. I think a lot of the adapted lyrics will mostly rely on what fits the syllables and rhythm best. The context is all over the place. I think it would be best to unify all of it into a first-person, singular perspective. It will be interesting to see what I can come up with.
 

Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
"WAVE"
part 2
Screenshot 2021-09-17 120726.png

This is what I've come up with so far. I really like what I came up with for the chorus. I'll likely make changes to the verses.


With one mistake, all time and space​
is done and gone, the end, finito​
flying by a go/no-go,​
my lights are all green​
a heart-to-heart connection​
loved an Aeon for an eon​
a dawn of time romantic​
I take it in and reject all doubt​
~ as I dance within a dream​
I can feel the moonlight flow, in my body and my soul​
hear the echoes of eternity, as it all surrounds me​
the light hits me like a wave, and my fear all melts away​
taking down my heart’s defenses, and expanding all my senses​
‘til I feel the world turning and turning ‘round​
considering, but dithering​
forgetting how to make a breakout​
running by a crossing sign​
a red light standing proud​
a star-to-star connection​
talk on face cam with a space man​
a radio relation​
in dimensions of sight and sound​
~ as I dance within a dream​
I can feel the moonlight flow, in my body and my soul​
hear the echoes of eternity, as it all surrounds me​
the light hits me like a wave, and my fear all melts away​
taking down my heart’s defenses, and expanding all my senses​
see the future is closer and closer now​
~ passing on into the night​
underneath the moonlight’s glow, as I start to lose control​
hearing voices that invite me, to a future they’re rewriting​
as tomorrow calls me on, with a brilliant siren song​
breaking down my heart’s defenses, and igniting all my senses​
‘til I feel the world turning and turning ‘round​
see the future is clearer and clearer now​
lalala-lala-lala (x2)​
lalala-lala-lala (x2)​



I unified the first and second chorus, and used the differing lines to fill in gaps elsewhere. If your chorus never repeats then it is just another verse, essentially. We all know any number of songs that, if asked to sing it, we could only recall the chorus with clarity. And that's because of the repetition.

Regarding certain lines:

"Flying, stopping, and flying again" made me think of the "go / no-go" of rocket launch procedures.
"Fell in love with an ancient" an Aeon is a figure from gnostic mythology. An eon is an unimaginably long period of time.
"Open next; Skype with alien" I thought it made sense to echo the "heart-to-heart connection" from the previous verse with "star-to-star connection." I generally don't like to include names, brands, current events, or anything that might make a song seem dated in the future. I do like the sound of "face cam with a space man."
The "Ah~" is deceptive, because it won't actually be "Ah" it will be the extended vowel from the previous line.

There are often sections in Japanese songs with a bunch of rapid-fire syllables that would just be too awkward to try and match in English. With the nature of Vocaloid and its capabilities they often push the envelope in this regard. It's not uncommon for me to cut the number of syllables in half. The other thing often encountered are sections where an idea takes several lines to cover in Japanese, but can be expressed in a single sentence in English. It's an interesting challenge to fill those in. Sometimes I take lines from elsewhere in the song where the opposite happens (where something in Japanese takes fewer lines than in English).

My goal, as always, is to capture the essence and meaning of a song, not match each line perfectly with its translation. I also want to make it singable, with no stumbling over syllables, or weird emphasis on vowels, or disjointed sentence structure.
 

Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
"Time To Grieve"
part 1
time to grieve.jpg
(placeholder image)

This is an original composition. It was so odd. I wasn't doing anything in particular when these words just came to me. I practically wrote all of this in one go. I have an idea of what melody goes with it, but it will be quite a while before I'll be able to put these lyrics to music.


acting like it doesn't matter​
feels like​
this is someone else's life​
dragging a burden​
like a phantom limb​
is it painless?​
fooling others with that face​
can't hide​
what I see behind your eyes​
reaching out a hand​
you slap it away​
I. won't. give. up.​
what you do, and what you say​
never end up the same way​
and all I see​
is someone who​
keeps drowning​
I pick up, what you throw down​
but you always turn it around​
you'd rather leave​
and still won't take​
the time to grieve​
ignore and on about your business​
I find​
yet another burned-out light​
I know it's your life​
maybe I've no right​
I. won't. give. up.​
what you do, and what you say​
never end up the same way​
and all I see​
is someone who​
keeps drowning​
I pick up, what you throw down​
but you always turn it around​
you'd rather leave​
and still won't take​
the time to grieve​
Even if, you say you're fine​
I'll reach out a second time​
and I don't care​
times when you say​
you hate me​
shed your tears, and I'll shed mine​
let's both cry until we're blind​
forget the world​
it's never wrong​
to take time to grieve​
 
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Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
"Time To Grieve"
part 2


I've been singing to myself all day long. I think I have the chorus down. I won't expand on the verses until I have a better idea of what their melody will be. Some kind of dramatic rock number in the vein of yuyoyuppe or neru. I really want to express the pleading frustration toward someone dear, who is in complete denial about experiencing loss.

My idea is to do: verse > (first half of chorus) > verse > (second half of chorus) > verse > (entire chorus)


Even if, you say you're fine​
I'll reach out, a second time​
'Cause all I see​
is someone who​
keeps drowning​
You can't heal, what you deny​
I can't share, feelings you hide​
You won't move on​
'til you take the time​
take time to grieve​
What you do, and what you say​
Never seem, to be the same​
and I don't care​
times when you said​
you hate me​
Shed your tears, and I'll shed mine​
Let's both cry, until we're blind​
We can't survive​
'til we take the time​
take time to grieve​


I feel the theme here is partly inspired by the quote: "A true friend sees the pain in your eyes, while everyone else believes the smile on your face."
 
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Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
[Warning: Dry Philosophical Analysis]
It's often a struggle to decide whether to simplify a lyrical passage. I tend to just write lyrics as key ideas of much longer chains of thought. I don't know if it makes some of the lines I write seem over-complicated. At the same time, I don't want to streamline an idea into a cliché. (In the following sections I'm going to state some outright obvious stuff in a clinical and verbose way. Forgive me for it. I really want to break this down to an atomic level of meaning.)
forum_column_spacer.png
Original
Even if, you say you're fine
I'll reach out, a second time
'Cause all I see
is someone who
keeps drowning
forum_column_spacer.png
Simplified
Even if, you say you're fine
I'll reach out, again each time
'Cause I can see
that deep inside
you're drowning
The essential idea is that we, the speaker/singer, believe that they, the person being addressed, is struggling internally. Our offer to help has presumably been turned down once, but we will offer it again (and again). This is all said plainly in the simplified version.

I used the term "second time" to give a sense of being in the present. We've, just now, offered help that has been dismissed with an "I'm fine." Now we're going to press them to accept our help. Now, I didn't consciously choose this phrase. "I'll reach out a second time" is just the first thing that popped into my head when I was writing it.

Next, the simplified version is a straightforward "I can see you need help." My original line is a more indirect observation implying, "Others see you in certain ways. When I look at you, what I see is someone continually struggling."
forum_column_spacer.png
Original
What you do, and what you say
Never seem, to be the same
and I don't care
times when you said
you hate me
forum_column_spacer.png
Simplified
You don't mean, the things you say
You refuse, and run away
but I don't care
how many times
it takes me
First, we assert that their actions don't align with the words, promises, and assurances they give. In the simplified version it is more clearly stated that they will do or say whatever they need to, to avoid confronting their problems. Second, we declare that we will persist in trying to help them resolve their issues, regardless.

I wanted the line "times when you said you hate me" to imply that there have been very heated confrontations. Even to the point they've shouted that they hate us, to try and get us to leave them alone. But we know they don't really mean it, and we won't be dissuaded by it.


Maybe the meaning I put into the original lines just doesn't come across. Maybe the more straight-forward lines are better. I feel like the simplified versions contain recycled phrases that we see too often. Or maybe I'm wrong about that?

(Any feedback or thoughts appreciated)
 
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Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
"If You're Gonna Jump"
part 1
omoi_IYGJ.jpg

This is a song that didn't click with me until I looked at the lyrics. Now I consider it the best song about friendship ever; change my mind. Omoi has such intense energy in their songs. I hope that one day I can do the same. I want to make a cover of this song with Otomachi Una. I think she'll be able to bring some extra vigor to the vocals. Plus, her spicy punk image fits the song pretty well.

I thought about holding on to the lyrics until I do the cover. But I'm so pleased with how they turned out that I'm just bursting to share them. The translation by novakiaki is really good (subbed video). I had already started writing the lyrics using a deepl translation, but then I found their translation and it cleared up a few parts for me. My version is crammed with colloquialisms. I think it fits the tone, and may even make it easier to adapt from Japanese phonemes (I would kill for an Una English voicebank!).

There are a couple lines that are purposely meant to bluntly not rhyme or fit. Specifically "laugh at the stupidest crap!" and "we're prob'ly screwed!" It's a type of blunt emphasis that will sometimes be shouted along with by all the band members, despite there being no backing vocals anywhere else in the song.

On a couple of words the syllables are meant to be rattled off, all smashed together. Such as the word "Vocaloid" will be said something like "Vikl'ud," and "reincarnated" will likely end up something like "reyn'kani'ted." But our brains are really good at hearing the correct word based on context even if the word is mumbled. It's just part of the style I'm going for that sometimes features bits that are tongue-in-cheek meant to be awkward to cram in, but in a way that works. If you haven't heard it, it is difficult to explain.

I figured I'd put the translation and adaptation side-by-side, just for comparison's sake:

forum_column_spacer.png
Translation by novakiaki

Sorry for starting to sing so abruptly
Just stay where you are for a bit and listen, okay?
What I want to talk to you about today
Is a very important thing regarding you!

I don’t remember the day we met, but
I’m fairly sure I know everything about you
Your strong point is your diligence
But you’ve got a serious case of “edgy teenager”!

If you’re gonna jump
I’ll smile and jump with you
What, did you think I’d try to stop you?!
Are you making light of the bond between us?!

So let’s go ahead and fall, with your hand in mine
Let’s flash peace signs at the ground
But wait, now that I think about it
I feel like I’m forgetting something…

Oh, right! There was that thing I wanted to catch on TV!
Yeah, actually, how about we leave the flying thing for later!

Ever since I met you
Everything’s gotten a little strange
I’d never believed in fortune-telling but
I started feeling like it was useful on occasion

I was touched by weird music
And read a whole bunch of weird manga
And before I knew it
I couldn’t laugh at you anymore!

If you’re gonna jump
I’ll go ahead and jump before you
What, did you think I could be persuaded otherwise?!
Don’t underestimate my stupidity!

Wait, what did you say? That famous Vocaloid producer
Is going to upload a new song tomorrow?
Hang on, it’s such a critical moment right now
So why are you still looking at Twitter…

Well jeez, we gotta be there to see that tomorrow
So we can’t say goodbye to this world just yet!

ahh...

Someday, will we be able to understand
Just who the heck we are?
That kind of future
Is highly unlikely, isn’t it

Before we jump, I have a checklist of things I need to set in order
Shutting off the gas stopcock, closing all the windows
Smashing my hard drive
…but that felt like a waste, so I stopped

If you’re gonna jump
I’ll smile and jump with you
What, did you think I’d try to stop you?!
Are you making light of the bond between us?!

In the next world where we come across each other
I hope that once more, we can become just like we are now

What will we be reborn as?
Shall we try predicting with a book?
You will be an onion, and I will be a tire
Yeah, actually, how about we leave the flying thing for next time…?

Aiming for the day when we can truly fly
Will you stay with me a little longer?
forum_column_spacer.png
Adapted singable English lyrics by NokoneP

'scuse me a second, hold back a bit
jus' gimme a moment I got somethin' ta say
'fore you follow through let's stop an' take a look
at how we ended up here today

I'm not really sure when it was that we met
but since then I've learned a lotta 'bout you
times we'ere together I'll never forget
but sometimes you're such an edgy teen

so ya really oughta tell me if you're gonna jump
'cause I wanna be right there with you
what? you thought I'd try an' stop ya?
there's a bigger bond b'tween us two!

grab my hand, let's take the plunge
give terra firma a big thumbs up
wait a sec, I got a weird feelin'
there's somethin' that I'm forgetting

oh, that's right! there was a show I wanted to see
let's call this whole flying thing off for awhile

since us two started hanging out
seems like things were never the same
those times we spent messin' around
you showin' me buncha really cool things

that crazy music you always played
comic books you were readin' all day
I didn't really "get" you then, but now
we laugh at the stupidest crap!

so ya really oughta tell me if you're gonna jump
race ya' to the top, I'll go ahead of you
don't think you can tell me different
I'm the kinda dumbass you'll never out-do!

come on now, put your hand in mine
we'll make it to the bottom in record time
what was that you saw on twitter?
a new song by that Vocaloid producer?

oh, I know I'll just die if I miss it!
guess we'll hafta stick around for awhile

ahh...

maybe we, might just someday
figure ourselves out, or what life's about
maybe then, we'll understand
but I have my doubts, we're prob'ly screwed!

so b'fore I go, gotta take care of things
turnin' off the lights, an' lockin' the doors
guess I changed my mind
'bout smashin' up my hard drive

so ya really oughta tell me if you're gonna jump
'cause I wanna be right there with you
what? you thought I'd try an' stop ya?
there's a bigger bond b'tween us two!

in the next life when we meet again
I promise I'll still be your friend

'wonder how we'll be reincarnated?
let's go get our fortunes read
you'll come back as an onion, and I'll be a tire
yeah, let's call this whole flying thing off for now

maybe someday we'll take off for real
'til then would ya hang with me for awhile

I'm probably going to do this cover as soon as I finish with my current one (which is taking way to long). I'm not going to be a perfectionist about Una's pronunciation, and it might even sound fun sung with a moderate Japanese accent. Makes me think of bands that come tour in the 'States; some don't know the language very well, so they mostly memorize any English versions they do of their songs phonetically.
 
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Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
"Can We Touch Heaven"
part 1
canwetouchheaven.png
(placeholder image by 蝶 on pixiv)

This is a second draft of my new original composition "Can We Touch Heaven." It will be an Alternative/Indie Rock song with calm, contemplative verses and an impassioned, aspirational chorus. The song will be sung by Kaito. Miku will sing duet with him on the chorus as well as a backing vocal fill on the outro. I'll probably forego a keyboard and second guitar that I usually include. Just limit it to guitar, bass guitar, and somewhat muted drums doing some fairly complex beats. Actually, I could see using an acoustic rhythm guitar. Or two guitars and no bass guitar... there are a lot of options. I might even make a version where Kaito sings and performs solo. Only him strumming chords on an acoustic guitar.

Can We Touch Heaven

(verse)
we look above, at the starry sky
down here we live, an ordinary life

an ordinary life, can we be more?
and rise beyond this, terrestrial shore

(chorus)
can we reach out~!
and touch~ heaven?
reach out! reach out!
can we~ touch~ heaven?

I'm sure we'll find a way
to climb~ unto~ heaven

(verse)
we made our wings; dreams of soaring high
to overcome, this simple mortal life

this simple mortal life; we won't be bound
we're breaking free now, above the clouds

(chorus)
can we ascend~!
and reach~ heaven?
ascend! ascend!
can we~ reach~ heaven

it's really not so far
to fly~ into~ heaven

(interlude)

riding so high, above the sphere
in this realm of gods, things seem so clear!

(chorus)
[music pauses]
can we reach out~!
[music resumes]
and touch~ heaven?
reach out! reach out!
can we~ touch~ heaven?

we needn't go so far
right here~ we found~ heaven

(outro)

[ "~" denotes sustained words ]



I didn't have any specific intent or meaning in mind when writing it. But over time I've started picturing a PV with close-up footage of a rocket launch during the second verse/chorus. Where it ignites its engines on the line "we're breaking free now" and it starts lifting off the launch pad on the word "ascend." Who knows? Maybe when I eventually get the song made I'll be able to scrape together enough money to commission a decent video. Nothing fancy. Probably still images and some public domain rocket footage.
 
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Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
"Dappou Rock" (Law-Evading Rock)
Part 1
Dappou Rock.png

I've always felt that the art in the official video for Dappou rock is so bad it's brilliant. It totally fits the vibe of the song, but none of it is what I would call visually appealing. The energy in the animation is off the charts. I'm sure it's full of references to Japanese television and the entertainment industry. I kinda have vague impressions of what those references might be from watching the AZN cable channel and just random bits of Japanese TV I've encountered over the years.

I love the sound of Dappou Rock. I wish I knew what that guitar style is called. I don't know if it's possible to duplicate it with a sampler plugin. There are so many things in music that I'm familiar with but have no idea what they're called or what the terminology is.

Just like "If You're Gonna Jump" I picture this song being sung by Otomachi Una. In fact, I hope to do a bunch of punk rock style songs with Una. Vocaloid is really lacking in punk tunes. You could argue whether these two songs are technically "punk" but that's the best way I can think to describe them. (Maybe "post-punk?")

Like so many other songs, there isn't a great translation available. Largely because the lyrics don't translate well. Lots of slang and concepts that have no direct analog in English. Even on the best translation I found the translator straight-up admits that he doesn't understand what Neru is saying on certain lines. They could translate the words, but not the meaning. They also said some of the lines are references to other songs or inside jokes. Neru makes yet another guitar reference in the first part of the song. I've read up on the history and manufacture of all these guitars. I've read up on stereotypes of guitars and guitar players. I still don't get it.

Unless I'm waaay off-base, the song is a satire of consumer culture and mindless consumption of media (or at least it's really sarcastic about it). Seeing as how broadcast television is dead, I decided I had to update the song and try to convey the same sort of message. This is yet another song where the chorus doesn't repeat verbatim. I don't know if this is typical in Japanese music? I've said this before, but in western music the chorus is expected to be nearly the same each time. In fact, most people know the chorus of various songs without knowing the rest of the lyrics. And that is down to the repetition of the chorus. So I moved the lines and ideas of the later choruses to other parts of the song and made a repeating chorus that is in line with the energy of the music. It's something I think would work really well at a live concert performance.

Here is my current draft of my adapted, singable English lyrics:


b'fore ya get all drastic, pick up your six-string
turn the amp up louder, who cares what they think?
cranking out the chords and ridin' the sound waves
c'mon let's take a trip 'round this trippy world now

whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh (x4)

drama's gettin' higher, click-bait is crazy
birds are tweetin' louder, tocks keep on ticking
ain't no magic pill to cure id-i-o-cy
some are just too dumb to breathe

here comes the outrage brigade
always yelling at ev'ry thing; no one needs that
twenny-four sev'n clicks and views
'cause somebody has got to get paid

everyone!​
side-to-side if you don't care, you don't care​
'round and 'round if ya feel it, ya feel it​
up and down now let's do it, let's do it​
crank it up, go nuts, who cares about the rules?​
side-to-side if you don't care, you don't care​
'round and 'round if ya feel it, ya feel it​
up and down now let's do it, let's do it​
break it down, stand out, we're changing everything!​
with this lawless rock​

whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh (x4)

yeah, they jumpin' 'round the madhouse say'n
"check me out! check me out!"
takin' all their pictures in the mirror now
(oh-oh-oh oh-oh-oh)
checkin' da feed 'fore they're outta bed

tellin' what it's all about
now the mob is on their way; it's always somethin'
feeding the trending machine
with everything they see and they say

everyone!​
side-to-side if you don't care, you don't care​
'round and 'round if ya feel it, ya feel it​
up and down now let's do it, let's do it​
crank it up, go nuts, who cares about the rules?​
side-to-side if you don't care, you don't care​
'round and 'round if ya feel it, ya feel it​
up and down now let's do it, let's do it​
break it down, stand out, we're changing everything!​

it's all a joke and we don't care, we don't care
just one big con and we see it, we see it
raise up your voice now, just do it, just do it
be yourself, stand up, don't let them tear you down!

side-to-side if you don't care, you don't care​
'round and 'round if ya feel it, ya feel it​
up and down now let's do it, let's do it​
crank it up, go nuts, who cares about the rules?​
side-to-side if you don't care, you don't care​
'round and 'round if ya feel it, ya feel it​
up and down now let's do it, let's do it​
break it down, stand out, we're changing everything!​
with this lawless rock​

whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh (x4)


I can already picture Una singing, playing guitar, and jumping up and down during the chorus. While the glowsticks go sideways, around, and up-down. I'm still struggling with the fourth line. It's an odd lyric with odd timing and the last few syllables are... "smooshy?" That's how I would describe it. Anyway, if you have any thoughts about my adapted lyrics or the original lyrics I'd love to hear them.
 
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Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
"Lost One's Weeping"

lost-ones-weeping-120x213.png

It took a lot longer than I expected, but I finished my cover of "Lost One's Weeping" by Neru. I wrote the lyrics months ago. I wasn't satisfied with other English versions of the song. I guess I wanted my lyrics to hammer harder on the song's themes (as I see them anyway). I didn't hear this song until I was out of high school, but it encapsulates how I often felt back then. And, hell, I still feel this way in regard to the workplace sometimes... okay, a lot of the time.

I've never been one to give in to peer pressure. I've never given up who I am on the inside. I've never fully conformed to society's rules and standards. I've never repressed myself or changed my behavior or beliefs in order to fit in with the crowd. And, god damn almighty, have I had a tough time because of it!

I understand the pressure to fit in. It's not in my nature to yield to it. But I still have to be part of society, so compromises have to be made. So while the song can be about the stress of giving in to those pressures, I feel it equally expresses the stress of resisting those pressures.

I put a lot of myself into these words, and I hope they resonate with someone. I tried to make Miku's vocal track as emotional as I felt. I don't know how well it came across. I kept debating internally whether to tone it down. Kept worrying people wouldn't like it because it doesn't have the same timbre as the original. (This is a whole topic in itself that I should probably do a write-up of.)

I ended up making a chart comparing the original lyrics and my adapted lyrics. It shows where I moved some lines around, and my reasoning for how I wrote certain lines:
lost ones weeping lyrics explanation 2.png

Here is an image containing only my lyrics and notes (to fit the page better):
lost-ones-weeping-lyrics-explanation_notes_only.png

 
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mobius017

Aspiring ∞ Creator
Apr 8, 2018
1,665
I hope they resonate with someone.
Honestly, I think this song, maybe especially your version of it, will probably resonate with a lot of people. As I was listening to/reading along with the lyrics, I was thinking, "This is like a Who's Who of a bunch of the problems I've heard about in modern society, at least in what I'd guess you'd call developed nations." It made it impressive to listen to, because even the original English translation isn't always easy to understand.
 
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Nokone Miku

Aspiring Lyricist/Producer
Jul 14, 2021
65
www.youtube.com
"Letter To (Future) Me"
part 1
miku_letter_to_me.png
(placeholder image by ゆうりん)

Had a flash of inspiration and wrote this song yesterday morning. It all just sort of spilled out on the page. I imagine it as maybe shoegaze, garage, or alternative rock. At the moment, in my head, the melody is pretty pedestrian (the sort of thing I'd normally roll my eyes at). I'll definitely punch it up when I begin composing it.

A melancholy reflection on the fleeting nature of time like this is practically uplifting by my standards. The song I wrote previously, "Can We Touch Heaven?" with its aspirational tone is a bit of an anomaly for me. I have a folder full of rejected lyrics I've written that basically amount to me grousing about my inner demons. I guess Kaito is able to conjure up that last shred of positivity I have somewhere deep inside me.

The verses have odd numbers of syllables and the chorus kinda has even numbers. I don't know if a time signature change would be interesting, or if typical, like, sustained notes and rests will be best, or what? (I don't know how to say what I'm trying to say. I took instrument lessons for years but I'm still fuzzy about terminology. ...And I still suck at playing instruments!) I'll have to stumble through it. I compose by ear and setting up tempo and time signatures are unintuitive for me. I've watched videos about the subject and still don't have a feel for it. What seems to work best, for now, is for me to grab an analog metronome and sing the song at half speed, figure out what BPM that is, and then double it.


"Letter To (Future) Me"

dear me,

I hope this letter finds you well
you'll be reading this
many years from now

did you do the things you meant to do?
did you say those things you meant to say?
and did you ever try finishing
the books on your desk that have been there forever?

you see,

yesterday I was thinking of you
and all of the things
we've wanted to do

did you find the time to make your plans?
did you get the things you meant to get?
and did you ever go traveling
to the places you clipped out of a magazine?

the days pass slow​
the years fly by​
none of us know​
the moment that we'll run out of time​
we all delay​
and say "someday"​
it always seems​
that we'd rather do it tomorrow​

I think,

you shouldn't be blaming yourself
it might be my fault
for putting things off

and I felt like I should write to you
and I promise to try harder too
but if I don't get around to it
then take this as my sincerest apology

the days pass slow​
the years fly by​
none of us know​
the moment that we'll run out of time​
we all delay​
and say "someday"​
it always seems​
that we'd rather do it tomorrow​

(solo)

once more,

here's a promise between me and you
that we won't ignore
the passage of time

because...

the days pass slow​
the years fly by​
none of us know​
the moment that we'll run out of time​
so don't delay​
let's go today​
it's our new goal​
that we won't wait until tomorrow​



I've been considering whether to let the song trail off on the word "tomorrow." Another idea I'm kicking around is figuring out how to end it with something like "Regards, your past self" like signing a letter. Making the last section of the song altered to be affirmative in tone is something I came up with just as I was finishing it. I'm worried it sounds a bit hokey.

I'm also debating whether to make the fourth verse a whole verse. Probably not, unless the song ends up being really short for some reason.
 
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