Archive for September 4th, 2009


Friday, September 4th, 2009

The other day, I was listening to Niacin‘s album (Live! Blood, Sweat & Beers), and quickly got a bit uncomfortable.  And this is my small analysis on it.  And how this relates somewhat to fansubbing.

Back in college, I took 3 semesters of pipe organ lessons.  One of the things my teacher taught me was on phrasing.  Specifically, the organists must construct phrases such that they let the audience breathe.  What does that mean?  If you’re a trumpet, you normally can’t keep blowing without any breaks.  (Forget circular breathing for now.)  And audience expects that slight pause while the trumpet player catches his or her breathe between phrases.  The same goes for singers, obviously. If a player plays for 5 minutes without any breaks, it’s suffocating to the listeners.  Or it is to me.  That’s what Billy Sheehan (Niacin’s bassist) was doing.  His phrases were staggered from one to the other.  It just felt very weird.

It was pretty shocking to me, as I did think about this subject recently on another occasion.  I recently decided to start working on Weber‘s First Piano Sonata, the last movement.  It is a type of piece known as Moto Perpetuo – perpetual motion.  In this particular case, the right hand plays the sixteenth notes throughout the piece.  No breaks.  Nada.  So, in theory, I knew I had to play wisely so I don’t suffocate the listeners.  I still haven’t found the answer.  And the problem seems even bigger, now that I’ve experienced the suffocation with Niacin.  The answer should lie somewhere on putting some kind of mental break between adjacent phrases even while the motion is continuous.

Now, how is this related at all to my fansubbing experience?  For one run-on sentences.  For the other, run-on sentences left on the screen.

This entry was actually entirely inspired by this post called Writing Tips for Non-Writers Who Don’t Want to Work at Writing.  Not all points apply to fansub translations.  But “Speak what you write” is a very good practice to follow.  In fact, I often speak out my translation before I type it out.  Sometimes, I even try to match the rhythm of the lines spoken in Japanese with English equivalent version.  I really have no idea how well it’s working, but this is one technique I use.  This becomes difficult when the original lines become insanely long.  Run-on sentences seem to be less of a crime in Japanese than in English.  But when translated, the line always sounds horrible.  It’s much better to break those lines up.  I must make this entry as a reminder to myself to remember this more often.

I have much less involvement with the second point.  Some long lines are unavoidable.  For example, in the soon-to-be-released Nodame Paris ODA, there was one line that explains the piece being performed by the conductor.  It was a fairly lengthy lines, but it fit well within 2 lines on the screen (our usual limit).  But as couple of the quality checkers pointed out, it stayed on the screen for 9 seconds.  That actually is a really long time.  The original timing guide I read about 8 years ago, if I remember correctly, said that any one line should not stay on the screen for more than 5 seconds.  I think most of us lost our focus after seeing one sub for that long.

Either way, the goal is simple – don’t let the viewer suffocate from your sub.

A remotely related sidenote – the strip of musical score used on site design is Paganini‘s Moto Perpetuo, Op. 11, No. 6.  My first exposure to this piece was a rendition by Wynton Marsalis on cornet.  See if it feels suffocating to you.  If it doesn’t this entire entry meant nothing to you.

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