Learning with songs

Does any one else out there need music for learning?
I like childrenโ€™s songs, so I am working on many of the songs on this page.
I listen to them while I work. I especially like the elephant song, the first grader song, the peach boy, and sakura. The great thing about kids songs is that one can usually figure out how to sing them and play them easily. From a language learners point of view, you pick up strange little bits of cultural knowledge too, like promising to drink one thousand needles for breaking a promise! (from a music theory point of view, I really like the unique modes that songs like Sakura are in โ€ฆ the banjo is ideally suited for these songs, because you just re-tune to suit the mode).

Beyond that, I donโ€™t really know where to start with Japanese pop music, or hip-hop, or rock. I have been listening to cornelius, because I enjoy drony stuff, but I am not going to learn much Japanese from that.

Music is a big, open ended topic. But what I really have in mind is good music that I can enjoy, plus pick up some language skills from. (for instance I enjoy both Bob Dylan and Kurt Cobain, but I wouldnโ€™t want to learn English from their records :slight_smile: )


Sakura Sakura

This is the first song that I am working on. I have been listening to a bunch of versions of it for a couple of weeks at work, Yesterday, I messed around trying to find the melody with some different banjo tunings. Essentially, it is some kind of a weird minory pentatonic mode. The lyrics are simple, and refer to very japanese things like cherry blossoms and mist and clouds, so I figure that I will learn some good Japanese words and kanji too.
I settled on the tuning gCGCD, often called double C tuning. The advantage of alternate tunings with traditional modes is that you can forget about what you know about chords. Tune the instrument to notes within the scale, then play the tune with some double stops and see what good harmonies emerge. In this instance, although I have the instrument in a โ€œCโ€ tuning, I am actually playing in some flavor of โ€œGโ€. It is the Ab in the scale that gives this tune its flavor and tension.
So, here is a real rough tab of where the melody lies. Pretty much any banjoy (or guitary) things that you can do on the open strings around the melody end up sounding good.
I will post an mp3 on banjo and maybe guitar very shortly.
ใ•ใใ‚‰ ใ•ใใ‚‰ ใ‚„ใ‚ˆใ„ใฎใใ‚‰ใฏ
ใฟใ‚ใŸใ™ใ‹ใŽใ‚Š ใ‹ใ™ใฟใ‹ใใ‚€ใ‹
ใซใŠใ„ใžใ„ใšใ‚‹ ใ„ใ–ใ‚„ ใ„ใ–ใ‚„
ใฟใซใ‚„ใ‹ ใ‚“

ๆกœ ๆกœ ๅผฅ็”Ÿใฎ็ฉบใฏ
่ฆ‹ๆธกใ™้™ใ‚Š ้œž ใ‹ ๆ›‡ ใ‹
ๅŒ‚ใ„ ใž ๅ‡บใšใ‚‹ ใ„ใ–ใ‚„ ใ„ใ–ใ‚„
่ฆ‹ใซ่กŒใ‹ ใ‚“


C|--------3--------------|----------3-- 2----------|--------------------|-----------------------|

C|--------3--------------|----------3-- 2----------|--------------------|-----------------------|






I hope that this tab turns out all right in this post. I couldnโ€™t notate the time, but if you listen to the melody a few times , it should be simple.
In my next post, I will pick apart the kanji.


Japanese songs tend to have really poetic lyrics, sometimes even the pop songs. Iโ€™ve always found them harder to parse than character dialogue in anime or tv shows. Itโ€™s definitely fun to learn how to sing them though (even if Iโ€™m not the greatest singer). Not sure if youโ€™re into anime songs, but I recently learned this one. ใฒใใ‚‰ใ—ใฎใชใ้ ƒใซ ใ“ใ“ใ‚ใ‚€ใ™ใณ(Kokoro Musubi) - YouTube

It was a little difficult, but I learned a lot of useful words/phrases like ่พฟใ‚Š็€ใ„ใฆ or ๆŽดใฟๅ–ใ‚‹.


Iโ€™m really happy to read your post , Iโ€™m from mexico and I have learned english from rock , metal , hip hop songs , really , is rare when I sing or listen to songs in spanish , and I also wanted to search for music I like in japanese so I can start using this method but japanese music is very intense, I cannot find something I really dig because I think it tends to be very gothic or brutal , or very cute like kyary and even though I love kyary pamyu pamyu

In my search I have found a rock band called ๅ…ซๅๅ…ซใƒถๆ‰€ๅทก็คผ (88kasyo junrei) , but the lyrics are very difficult to understand for me at this level .

Also I found a pop artist called Tomoko Aran from the 80ยดs . I think the lyrics are not very difficult, Iโ€™ll leave you her album, is pure gold <3 (:wink:

more 80ยดs pop music :slight_smile:

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Thanks. I listened to that song. Maybe I will add it to my โ€œsongs to learnโ€ list.
I find that if I learn a song, it is stuck up in my brain forever. Music has great links to memory, like smells and tastes and images do.

Thanks! Definitely 1980โ€™s! I could listen to Tomoko Aran very easily.
I like the Mia Yamane too. Sounds like Dione Warwick.
Thanks again! There is so much to devour in Japanese language, music and culture.

้‹ๅ‘ฝใฏใคใ‹ใ‚€ใ‚‚ใฎใ ใจๆ€ใฃใŸ

โ€ปๅฑŠใใŸใ„ ใ„ใคใ‹็งใฏ็งใซ


ๅ‘จใ‚Šใฐใ‹ใ‚Šๆฐ—ใซใ™ใ‚‹ใฎใฏ ใ‚‚ใ†็ต‚ใ‚ใ‚Šใซใ—ใ‚ˆใ†

ๆฐธ้ ใชใ‚“ใฆ่ฆ‹ใŸใ“ใจใชใ„ใ‘ใฉ

่‡ชๅˆ†ใ‚’ไฟกใ˜ใฆ ใฒใจใค่ธใฟๅ‡บใ—ใฆ


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Awesome! It is so great to be able to start following the words to things a little bit!

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Your topic finally made me to post something to WK forum)

And first question is why not to learn English with Cobainโ€™s and Dylanโ€™s songs? Nirvana was one of first bands whose lyrics I started to understand in English (my first is Russian). Well, thats maybe the reason why itโ€™s such bad)

As for Japanese, I like some Japanese bands but right now my favourite one is Boris. Found them when they were a support act for NIN. They are usually referred as drown/sludge metal, but they have albums in wide range of genres. Here is a their pop-rock albums โ€œNew Albumโ€ and โ€œAttention Pleaseโ€. There were several times when I learned new vocab on WK and was like โ€œAhhh, that what they were singingโ€. It was a great help for memorising.

Also several years ago I really liked Syrup16g. They were kinda nice.


Thanks. :slight_smile:
Very funny. In America, everyone has always joked about how Bob Dylan mumbles his words. He has been criticized constantly over the years for this. It is kind of a joke here.

The same goes for Kurt Cobain. Many years ago, Weird Al Yankovitch did a cover of โ€œSmells like Teen Spiritโ€ called โ€œSmells Like Nirvana.โ€ I will always remember the marbles coming out of Weird Alโ€™s mouth.


I am a fan of both Dylan and Cobain, so I am used to hearing people joke about their enunciation.

I will look up Boris, because I like NIN.

The lyrics were pretty poor too (for nirvana at least)

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Here is my breakdown of Sakura. The words and lyrics are from Wikipedia.
It has been three months since I decided to get serious about the Japanese language. Reading the hiragana for this song, I suddenly realized that although my kanji is still very primitive, I can can fluently sound out hiragana and katakana with no problem. That in itself is progress.

Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
In fields, mountains and villages
As far as the eye can see.
Is it mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the morning sun.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Flowers in full bloom.

Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Across the spring sky,
As far as the eye can see.
Is it mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the air.
Come now, come now,
Letโ€™s go and see them! (Wikipedia translation)

ๆกœ ๆกœ
ๆกœ ๆกœ

ๆกœ ๆกœ
ๅŒ‚ใ„ใž ๅ‡บใšใ‚‹
ใ„ใ–ใ‚„ ใ„ใ–ใ‚„

ๆกœ ใ•ใใ‚‰ Cherry tree or cherry blossom. Common proper name for people or places.
้‡Žๅฑฑ ใฎใ‚„ใพ mountains
ใ‚‚ ใ‚‚ also
้‡Œ ใ•ใจ village
่ฆ‹ๆธกใ™ ใฟใ‚ใŸใ™ to look out over
้™ใ‚Š ใ‹ใŽใ‚Š limits (noun)
้œž ใ‹ใ™ใฟ mist
ใ‹ ใ‹ particle for question
้›ฒ ใใ‚‚ cloud
ๆœๆ—ฅ ใ‚ใ•ใฒ morning sun
ใซ ใซ in
ๅŒ‚ใ† ใซใŠใ† smell, fragrant
่Šฑ ใฏใช flower
ๅผฅ็”Ÿ ใ‚„ใ‚ˆใ„ spring
ใฎ ใฎ 's preposition
็ฉบ ใใ‚‰ sky
ใฏ ใฏ topic marker
่ฆ‹ใซ ใฟใซ to see
่กŒใ‹ใ‚“ ใ‚†ใ‹ใ‚“ i am going
่กŒ ใŽใ‚‡ใ† going

ๅ‡บใšใ‚‹ ใ„ใšใ‚‹ ???
ใ–ใ‹ใ‚Š ใ–ใ‹ใ‚Š ???

There are a few things that I canโ€™t decipher. In the meanwhile, I am going to sing this song all day while I clean the house.

I could never make out any Nirvana words to tell if they were good or not!

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Polly was a cracker? :stuck_out_tongue:

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Yeah, I saw that cover video lots of times, itโ€™s really funny)

Iโ€™m not saying that their songs are best ways to learn, but I still know lyrics thanks to internet.
I know itโ€™s strange but when I was teen with near zero English knowledge, it was easier to me to understand Cobainโ€™s lyrics than, Linkin Parks (I was a big fan till Minutes to Midnight). So maybe poor lyrics is a bonus actualy))


I couldnโ€™t upload an mp3 here, so I uploaded it to my website, and put in link. Here goes:


Sorry the recording is so klunky. I was trying too hard to enunciate the melody, I think.


I just wanna say that this is a lovely thread, itโ€™s so nice to see people discussing music and even translating it :slight_smile:

Boris are one of my favourite bands, but I donโ€™t think I know enough Japanese to decipher any of what they sing about, haha. Iโ€™m glad they got a mention here though!

I donโ€™t know about songs that might be useful for learning or practicing Japanese. This one might be: AJA - Sound Life ~ REM (Trigun: The First Donuts) - YouTube

it counts up from ใฒใจใค to ใ‚„ใฃใค in each verse. I first heard the song several months ago and loved it; imagine my surprise when I listened to it again after doing some WK and learning how to count things! it was a really cool moment to realize I knew at least a little bit of what the lyrics meant.

now that I think about it, I think it also has a very familiar, comfortable rhythm that makes it sound a little like a nursery rhyme or childrenโ€™s song, even? hopefully someone else can pick up on this.


Really dug that song! I am going to take some time and really listen to it.

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I always thought the band Shishamo was pretty good for learning because the female vocalist sings pretty clearly.

Thereโ€™s also that famous song called โ€œsukiyakiโ€ by Kyu Sakamoto. I wonder how that would sound on the banjo!

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