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  • Lost in translation?

    I've been listening to Tom B's marvellous 2012 swap CD "Faca o amor e nao faca a guerra" for the last few days, and it got me thinking - I've been wondering how much my appreciation for the music would be increased or transformed if I understood the lyrics. I'm aware that there is mucho listening to music from various parts of the world on this board - not just Brazil but Turkey, various East European countries etc. How many of you regularly make the effort to translate lyrics and how worthwhile do you find it? How much of an understanding of a language/lyrics have you picked up contextually? As a "for instance", I was completley blown away by reading this translation of Jorge Ben's Zumbi.

    As an aside, I find myself frequently looking up rap lyrics on Rap Genius. I'm enamoured of an Atlanta rapper called Young Thug at the moment and he makes a virtue of being hard to comprehend, with all kinds of crazy gargled intonations. Rap's different because I do share the language, if not the local slang and accents, and because rap is a music where lyric content and style is foregrounded, but I think it's a useful parallel. Thoughts?
    "As technology has advanced, vinyl records are outdated as they are music from the 19th Century so only hipsters and elderly people buy vinyl records".

    Mixes for your delectation: http://www.mixcloud.com/danmatic/

  • #2
    I actually prefer not to know, I like the mystery of it and like to imagine my own meanings. Something like Edu Lobo's majestic Arrastao sounds so much more epic to me than just a song about fishing.

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    • #3
      It´s much more than a song about fishing, though. It´s an explicit homage to the songs of Dorival Caymmi, a conscious step away from the urban sophistication of bossa nova (it references candomble slave gods and Catholic saints) and Elis Regina´s ecstatic debut performance of the song is one of the starting points for MPB - a cultural movement that was far more influential and far-reaching in Brazil than bossa or tropicalia.

      the last line "Never seen so many fish in my life" is just pure joy and optimism, and accurately reflects the riches of Brazilian music at the time. ,
      Vardy.....¡¡¡PELIGRO!!!

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      • #4
        That's very interesting Babycart, cheers. I'm obviously not going to translate every Brazilian song I encounter but was just curious as to how other people tended to respond to songs in foreign language. I'm aware that Brazilian music is embedded in such a rich culture and history - maybe this makes me more likely to want to gain that deeper understanding? Same with rap - there's a degree of investment there on my part that's not there with a random Euro cheapie 45.

        There's a Candomble meaning into "Zumbi" also - the African princess referred to I'd take to be the goddess Oshun. Synchretising an African goddess with a real-life princess would be quite charcteristic of how these religions operate culturally.
        "As technology has advanced, vinyl records are outdated as they are music from the 19th Century so only hipsters and elderly people buy vinyl records".

        Mixes for your delectation: http://www.mixcloud.com/danmatic/

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        • #5
          However, I know what you mean, Ian, in that there's something positive about being swept up with music only - just the immersion in sound and mood.

          Having said that, I'm reading up and listening to Arrastao now (never heard it before). Another Candomble reference - Yemaya, Goddess of the Sea gets a mention. This is one of the things I find fascinating - how this different religion sensibility is embedded with the music. I'd hazard a guess that this is a pointer to class. AFAIK in Latin America and the Carribean, most of the time the African diasporia relgions are practised by the lower classes, while the upper classes take to Christianity.
          "As technology has advanced, vinyl records are outdated as they are music from the 19th Century so only hipsters and elderly people buy vinyl records".

          Mixes for your delectation: http://www.mixcloud.com/danmatic/

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by babycart View Post
            It´s much more than a song about fishing, though. It´s an explicit homage to the songs of Dorival Caymmi, a conscious step away from the urban sophistication of bossa nova (it references candomble slave gods and Catholic saints) and Elis Regina´s ecstatic debut performance of the song is one of the starting points for MPB - a cultural movement that was far more influential and far-reaching in Brazil than bossa or tropicalia.

            the last line "Never seen so many fish in my life" is just pure joy and optimism, and accurately reflects the riches of Brazilian music at the time. ,
            Yes, disdainful of me to say 'just' a song about fishing...it's obviously more than that, especially if you're Brazilian. The significance of it is something I don't think I could ever grasp or relate to. I was just personally disappointed when I read the translation as I'd built it up in my mind as being about something else...totally my problem rather than Edu Lobo's

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            • #7
              I think that as I get older I tend to listen more to sounds than words. As a rule, that is, of course there are so many exceptions as to almost make that rule not worth stating. But basically nine times out of ten I just listen to foreign stuff as pure noise in the same way as an instrumental really. I guess sometimes I'm missing out and sometimes I'm saving myself from banality. That's life.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by IAN View Post
                Yes, disdainful of me to say 'just' a song about fishing...it's obviously more than that, especially if you're Brazilian. The significance of it is something I don't think I could ever grasp or relate to. I was just personally disappointed when I read the translation as I'd built it up in my mind as being about something else...totally my problem rather than Edu Lobo's
                I just read that Lobo actually composed the song round at Dorival Caymmi´s house, after he´d performed Noite do Temporal, which it strongly resembles. I think the north-eastern vibe is important, too. Lobo was from Rio, but always looked to the north east for inspiration.

                The lyrics are by Vinicius, and reflect a return to the working class themes that Caymmi pioneered in the 40s. Candomble´s very much a part of that, and features heavily in the Afro Sambas lp that he made with Baden Powell the following year.

                I knew this tune for years before I ever understood a word of it, though. It was on this cassette.

                I´d compare it to eating a curry if you don´t know anything about the ingredients. it still tastes fantastic, but there are other dimensions of enjoyment you miss. .
                Vardy.....¡¡¡PELIGRO!!!

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                • #9
                  "I´d compare it to eating a curry if you don´t know anything about the ingredients. it still tastes fantastic, but there are other dimensions of enjoyment you miss."
                  So kinda the opposite of eating a kebab then? Not sure who would be the lyrical equivalent of that...

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Filthy Rich View Post
                    So kinda the opposite of eating a kebab then? Not sure who would be the lyrical equivalent of that...
                    Chief Keef maybe? Morally troubling but tastes/sounds amazing.
                    "As technology has advanced, vinyl records are outdated as they are music from the 19th Century so only hipsters and elderly people buy vinyl records".

                    Mixes for your delectation: http://www.mixcloud.com/danmatic/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I often wonder what I might be listening to when I don't understand the native tongue ( so that's anything other than English really, poor form for someone with an Italian mother). As stated above, it comes down to whether its a good tune or not. I may pick up on an impassioned vocal performance.....but about what?. It definitely would make for a deeper, more meaningful experience if I could understand the lyrics. Wonder how many dubious sexist, racist, un-pc songs are passing me by unheeded due to my linguistic laziness?
                      Everyone tear down your own little wall
                      That keeps you from being a part of it all
                      Because you've got to be one with the one and all
                      You've just got to be close to it all

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                      • #12
                        "Record collecting is no mere hobby, no innocuous leisurely diversion. It is a feverish passion bordering on dementia, driving those under the influence to irrational, compulsive, fanatical extremes."

                        Night of the Living Vinyl

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                        • #13
                          I think the notion in this thread has been discussed before on here, but I just of thought about it in reverse: non English speakers listening to muppet thug rap - "My cock is so big / my drugs / my hoes etc etc zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

                          "Oh, but I like the beat"
                          some times play g+ with back noise,some times vg , super psyché juju lpfront sleeve is very nice vg back vg , but the top corne left is eating buy rats, ask for picture

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by medlar View Post
                            I think the notion in this thread has been discussed before on here, but I just of thought about it in reverse: non English speakers listening to muppet thug rap - "My cock is so big / my drugs / my hoes etc etc zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

                            "Oh, but I like the beat"
                            That's a pretty lame caricature dude.

                            I listen to lots of rap and I make efforts to understand it, as I talked about upthread. The aggressive and sometimes offensive content you find in rap are part of what makes it interesting.
                            "As technology has advanced, vinyl records are outdated as they are music from the 19th Century so only hipsters and elderly people buy vinyl records".

                            Mixes for your delectation: http://www.mixcloud.com/danmatic/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Tsundoku View Post
                              That's a pretty lame caricature dude.

                              I listen to lots of rap and I make efforts to understand it, as I talked about upthread. The aggressive and sometimes offensive content you find in rap are part of what makes it interesting.
                              lol Dan - offensive cock waving misogynic lyrics float yer boat, so be it
                              some times play g+ with back noise,some times vg , super psyché juju lpfront sleeve is very nice vg back vg , but the top corne left is eating buy rats, ask for picture

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