Method of Translating


I chose First Love by Hikaru Utada, Japan’s best-selling song, in 1999. Hikaru Utada is one of the most famous musicians and the first person who wrote R&B songs in Japan. She was born and grew up in NY, so she did not know much about J-pop. However, she consequently became a queen of J-pop. One reason for this achievement is that her parents are both musicians, and she was familiar with songwriting and singing from when she was a little child. When she made the song, she was still 15 years old.

Translatin experiments
I have tried three types of translation, linguistic, video, and sound construction.

Going through translating, I have noticed that some Japanese sentences, which are highlighted, do not have subjects. Hence, it is possible to imagine many kinds of love relationships, not only romantic but also general love.

To learn synesthesia, I analysed the original music video. It helped me pick up colours for my graphic design and know the tendency of metaphors which show a loss, confusion, disappearance, praying, loneliness etc…

I searched the instrument’s constitution, learned how to make a graphic score on YouTube, and tried to make it myself.

These references were helpful for making the final visualizasion.

#Final Visualization

The circle line follows time, inner lines follow the song’s progression. I reconfigured the lyrics depending on the process of time. Regarding white lines under the lyrics, which I made in week one, are vocal melody lines.


What’s working:

  • It was a challenging attempt for me to create a graphic score based on one complete piece of music. In this project, I succeeded in capturing all of my own emotions, reinterpretation of lyrics, and synesthesia elements obtained from analysis of music videos in one visual.
  • The time axis represented by the circle and the progress of the song represented by the inner line worked well.

What’s not working:

  • By carefully researching the relationship between each graphic score and the song in John Cage’s Reference, it is possible that my work has developed into a more abstract and cohesive output.
  • There is a possibility that the relationship between the organisation of instruments placed in each section and the vocal melody can be enhanced.

To develop this further:

  • By deepening my knowledge of synesthesia, I would like to deepen my insight into the relationship between music and visuals.
  • It was interesting to hear the opinion that there might be a possibility for multifaceted interpretation. Of course, presenting the research process can be convincing to the viewer, but it should also be a concern that how much information someone seeing only the graphic score can get a new perspective from this visual. One possibility is adding ingenuity for making layers to the interpretation, such as arranging symbols like Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, that can help understand the meaning of the work.

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