2016 music-related year in review

A number of things happened this year, but as this was my most productive year to date in regards to music (five originals, one remake, and various WIPs) I decided I should probably be more detailed about each one. The following text will be a little long, so I apologize in advance.

Overall

I was involved in various collaborative projects this year, primarily Winter‘s ABCD (A Birthday CD) album project for KAITO (which I’ll also be participating in next year as well), and the Ar tonelico series fan album COSMOCRYSTAL II: clalliss re leat, maya re pat in conjunction with the ARM (A Reyvateil’s Melody) circle. In regards to ABCD, it was largely because of the project, along with Winter’s constant support and encouragement throughout the year, that I was able to be as productive as I was, so I’m truly grateful from the bottom of my heart. As for COSMOCRYSTAL II, the Ar tonelico series and its worldbuilding has been particularly close to my heart for a few years now, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to make something outside my usual scope.

I’ve also released my first EP, Spring Festival, so if you’re interested please be sure to take a look!

Because I particularly liked Crispy-6uisness‘s KAITO design for “anoi isál yu mlál”, I asked them to make a full version and to create a complementary version for MEIKO:

Aren’t they wonderful? Thank you very much to Crispy for your hard work.

There’s a bit of background information behind these two:

  • KAITO: “Story Teller”, the one whose job it is to entertain and appease the audience. This may not accurately reflect the actual story, but if it doesn’t reach the audience, there’s no point.
  • MEIKO: “Lore Reader”, the one whose job is to keep the story grounded in reality. Rather than pessimism, this is in the sense of “but this is how the world really is”.

I don’t intend for every song I make with KAITO or MEIKO to use this setup, but in regards to the ones that do, the image I want to give off is that of a folktale play performance, where because the story has been transferred from performer to performer the details might have changed each time, and because of that the performer becomes as important as the story itself. There’s also more to do with this, but let’s leave it here for now.

Spring Festival has also made it clear that certain songs are related, but right now I hesitate to call anything a “series” because I don’t want to give off the impression that any particular song is incomplete without the others. I try to make each song in such a way that it can stand on its own without anything else, but if you want to connect them into something larger than you can. This might be me just wanting my cake and eating it too, but…if you could see it this way I’d be very happy.

In addition, this year I’ve decided to try making a better attempt at communication, so because I can speak Japanese to a limited degree I’ve started subtitling my Nico Nico Douga uploads. I can’t speak it nearly as well as I speak English, so there’s bound to be mistakes, but hopefully it’s better than nothing at all. Ever since CreCrew went down in 2013 I haven’t uploaded anything to any Korean communities, but I’ve been looking into Ateli and might try it out next year. Unfortunately I’m completely hopeless at any other language, so that’s the extent of what I can do on my own. I’m sorry!

anoi isál yu mlál (Your Hand and Mine)

(Nico Nico Douga)

You read the title by smearing the first “l” in “mlál” into the “m”.

This was for the aforementioned ABCD Project, song A. As of this writing, it’s also the song with the most views on YouTube or Nico Nico Douga of all the ones I’ve created, so I’m truly grateful.

Because it was made to be uploaded on February 14, Valentine’s Day, the theme is that of a “love song”. The image I wanted was that of “the melancholy of seeing someone who’s unreachable, and trying one’s best to reach them”, so because it’s meant to be a song focused more on that singular emotion than a particular story I tried to make the main melody lines easy to follow. Although this did lead to the odd side effect of the guitar phrase in the opening taking more time to make than the rest of the song, aha…Incidentally, at the time I was also playing Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk, so its soundtrack might have had an influence on this song.

There is a tiny bit of questionable history with this one, though – just prior to me making this song a friend was complaining about the ubiquity of the IV-V-vi chord progression, and as a sort of take-that I decided to make an entire song with nothing but that progression, just to prove that I could still make an interesting and varied song by changing up things here and there. Of course, as to whether or not you think I succeeded, I’ll leave that to you to decide, but…since I ended up learning a lot through that experience, the joke was probably on me in the end after all. To Winter, I’m sorry for corrupting your project with this m(_ _)m.

The lyrics are in the same constructed language as the one I’ve used in previous works. The grammar for it is fairly simple, so making subtitles wasn’t too difficult. Unfortunately there’s a lyrical mistake in the web-uploaded version, so I apologize about that; the version in Spring Festival has the corrected version.

As I said before, the KAITO design (Story Teller) and illustration were by Crispy, so thank you very much!

Blossom

(Nico Nico Douga)

This was a collaboration between myself and fellow Myriad members Xue (guitar and drum parts) and DoNotCrossP (illustration). The motif is “the regret of having lost someone, and the belief that it might not have happened if one had done something differently”. I don’t want to give too many details about the lyrics as I’d like to leave it to your own personal interpretation, but I’ll give you a little hint: pay attention to the bridge.

We’d actually had this song in progress well before Ruby had been released, and because of that we were tussling between a number of different potential singers, but in the end Ruby really did seem perfect for the song’s style and we didn’t want to sacrifice the song’s quality by releasing it prematurely.

This was also my first time using Vocaloid English.

Eloiyen

(Nico Nico Douga)

As you probably guessed, this is a sequel to the song “Elieiya” that I made in 2013, although it’s not a sequel as much as it’s another side of the same story. Because of that I tried to invoke a similar storybook-like atmosphere and used the same core instrument (the kora), but I also gave it some distinctive qualities of its own.

I feel a little guilty for not translating this one on Nico Nico Douga even though I did with the original, so although I don’t want to bring it down by giving too many details, here’s the idea I was thinking of:

  • The names Elieiya and Eloiyen refer to the girl and the boy respectively (the songs are titled for the person they’re about, not the person the song is in the perspective of).
  • The two were in an arranged marriage since birth; the boy was in love with her, but although he could have easily gone along with it and married her without incident, he didn’t want to if she didn’t return those feelings. As he was a rather shy kind of person, and saying that kind of thing so directly was a bit too awkward for him, he could only make vague hints at the question, which she’d fail to pick up on the implications of and, being a bit bad at picking up nuances, would take at face value. (“Elieiya”)
  • Finally, at the annual spring festival, he gathers the courage to present those feelings through song that spoken words weren’t sufficient enough for.
  • The preparations for the event had him busy the entire day, so meanwhile she – who had known him since childhood and had never gone a whole day without seeing him – was starting to feel extremely anxious. So, realizing that she had taken for granted the idea he’d always be there, she accepts his feelings. (“Eloiyen”)

Spring Festival is, naturally, named for that festival. Because “anoi isál yu mlál” is on there, you might think that’s necessarily the song in question, but in actuality you can put in any song you think would be appropriate, whether it’s “anoi isál yu mlál” or “A Declaration of Love in Spring” or someone else’s love song or even a song you make yourself. Just like how you can theoretically have Scheherazade tell as many stories through as many nights as you like, you can use whatever song you think is appropriate.

I use the words “girl” and “boy” because “woman” and “man” don’t really suit them, but it’s about an incoming marriage, so in my head they’re actually around 20…but since the song doesn’t say that, my word doesn’t mean anything and you can imagine them however you want.

As a point of trivia, the names Elieiya and Eloiyen are inspired by the Grimm’s Jorinde and Joringel. Incidentally, although she doesn’t appear in the video, this is a work meant to be sung by Lore Reader (MEIKO).

The illustrator for the video was Chim, whom I’d wanted to collaborate with for a long time. Thank you very much for your hard work.

Feather Goddess -transcendent-

(Nico Nico Douga)

The original version of the song from 2012 is particularly important to me since it was my first Vocaloid original. I’ve learned a lot of things since then, and moreover VY1 had been updated as well, so I’d wanted to do a rearrangement of the song for a while now. Some of the ideas I had for this were a lot more divergent than I actually ended up doing – at one point I considered changing the entire melody except for the chorus, or even doing a more EDM-style arrangement! (Even though I’m primarily an ethnic folk composer…) In the end, I decided to stick with the idea of “how would I have made the song the first time if I’d known what I do now?”, and this was the result.

This version uses the conlang instead of awkward Japanese or Latin, and unlike how I did the new lyrics for “Elieiya”, I did actually change a few significant details in the lyrics – in the original version I wrote that the goddess’s feet touch the ground (足は地を着陸する), but after thinking about it I thought that if we’re talking about a goddess who can’t understand humanity at all due to its weight being dangerous to her, then an inability to touch the ground would be better. I did want to keep the “wingless feathers” line, so that’s almost word-for-word translated, but in the original version I messed up and used the more literal “shape” (形) rather than the more appropriate “form” (姿), so that was duly amended. They have the same number of syllables, so maybe if I did another Japanese version…?

For this version, I asked ctrlkun to design the titular goddess.

There were a few aspects that I’d had in mind since even the original version (particularly the mask), but for the most part I left it up to their judgment and I’m truly grateful they were able to bring out their own unique aura in her. Of course, her theme color is pink in respect to VY1 ^^.

The illustration for the song was done by Artemi, who also brought her own style into the picture. Thank you very much!

Starlight Mist

(Nico Nico Douga)

I probably shouldn’t be admitting this outright, but because I was extremely busy in the days leading up to MEIKO’s birthday I ended up having to make this song in four days. (Oh, the awful disparity between what I did for this and KAITO’s birthday! I’m so sorry, MEIKO, you deserve better…and this isn’t even getting into how scheduling conflicts prevented me from doing anything for VY1 or VY2, either.) Because of that, looking back on it there are some things I’d have done differently, but considering the circumstances I think things came out quite well.

The main motif for the song is “searching for unreachable things when parts of it are already near you”.

This was my first time attempting Japanese subtitles for an English song, and since I got a favorable response for it I think I’ll continue doing that from now on. Incidentally, I forgot to put it in the video, but KAITO does some of the harmonies.

The design is the aforementioned one by Crispy, while the illustrations are by hyoujisama (Winter) and IrisFlower, who brought out their own takes on the design. Thank you to both of you!

Elieiya (English version)

This version was made for Spring Festival and is made as a complementary version to MEIKO’s “Eloiyen”, with KAITO on vocals and the lyrics in English. Surprisingly, even though the original version‘s lyric meter was made for Japanese, it wasn’t too difficult to make English lyrics for it with the whimsical mood I wanted, so I’m quite satisfied with how it came out. I changed a few things here and there and threw in a choral VY2, but for the most part the core of the song is the same.

Incidentally, I don’t want to give off the impression that this is meant to completely replace Pamyu’s version, but rather that they’re two takes on the same story. Like how Pamyu was in the original version, for this one KAITO is acting as the narrator (Story Teller).

Closing

I received a number of kind comments on YouTube, Nico Nico Douga, and Twitter, and I’m truly grateful to everyone for your support.

I promised I’d have a VY2 song in 2016, but I got a little fussy over the details and had to delay it, so hopefully it’ll be up next year; I also have a few other projects for 2017 that are yet to be announced. I still have a lot of things to learn as a music composer, so I’ll continue to do my best.


Features an adaptation of MEIKO, © Crypton Future Media, Inc. 2004, and KAITO, © Crypton Future Media, Inc. 2006, licensed under a CC BY-NC: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Posted in A Reyvateil's Melody, Diary, Music, Reference, VOCALOID.

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