We are working on the shigin “Meiso-Nippongo” with the folk song “Kurdo Bushi” interspersed between verses: This week I’m finding it intimidating to learn these new songs, new styles, a language that still feels foreign in my mouth because of the classical vocal technique that is so ingrained in my throat and tongue. I recognize about half of these words, and deducing from what little grammatical knowledge I can remember from my lessons a few years back, I try to figure out what might be going on in this piece, before I resort to Google translate and other translations online.
I find myself either feeling scared to try and make mistakes, because I know I will, because I don’t have the tools, because this language is my father-tongue, because the experts are a continent and an ocean away. I have to rely on my western music education, slow and repetitive listening, notating everything down in a western style, writing out this old Japanese min’yō in rōmaji, and I know it’s still not perfect. It never will be. I know there are a million more training wheels I will have to implement along the way. I know it will never be like the original Japanese style, but I’m not “original Japanese style” either, I guess. I’m just me, and I can only do my best. Watashi wa ganbarimasu-yō!