#1
Despite the fact that I'm Chilean I've always written lyrics in English not only because I find it easier to write the words in that language but also because I feel the music I write sounds better that way.

I've recently done an "experiment": I took a song I wrote a while ago and translated (well, "adapted" would be more accurate since a simple translation would mess up the phrasing and rhyme) from the original English lyrics to Spanish.

I know this community is mainly English-based some I'm quite sure of what the main view will be but I want to ask your opinion anyway.

Here you have the same song but in two different languages (lyrics included in the links):

"Get on your knees and crawl"

"Lámeme los pies" (Lick my feet)

So let me know what you think.


Cheers.
Last edited by Iszil at Jul 8, 2013,
#2
As an opera singer, I'm of the opinion that English is quite an ugly singing language. I'd much rather sing in Italian, French, or Spanish.
#3
Quote by Tyson2011
As an opera singer, I'm of the opinion that English is quite an ugly singing language. I'd much rather sing in Italian, French, or Spanish.


Well, I guess in the opera is quite different, but I like the way English sounds in rock/pop.
#4
Keep writing in / translating to spanish! Not enough latin american rock that doesn't suck these days. Spanish version 100%
#5
I'm from new zealand so maori singing is real common. Has a really plesent sound to it cos there aren't harsh consonants like in english. Also i find that listening to music with lyrics from other languages, i tend to concentrate on the timbre of the words, and how they feel rather than what they mean. Can be quite a welcome change.
#6
Quote by Tyson2011
As an opera singer, I'm of the opinion that English is quite an ugly singing language. I'd much rather sing in Italian, French, or Spanish.

i've heard opera in english that sounds really good so i don't know what you're talking about, unless you just mean physically singing it? i've heard latin languages are more natural to sing, but i think english may have a slight advantage in terms of phrasing, and the mold-ability of english. in english, slang, re-arranging words and phrases, etc... are common place and can make songs more poetic, or less, and and make a line easier to sing with less words, or words that flow easier as well as being able to use LESS words than say french.

the good thing about english too is there are a lot of words that are whole full sounding words. french for example has some words that require you to roll your "r"s from the back of your throat. when this is sung, to me it sounds distracting and not as clean. i know some asian languages can have odd short sounds for words i don't find sing well. italian i don't think has these kinds of things and is spoken pretty close phonetically to how it's spelled, from what i've been told. and from the italian i can read, it seems pretty true.

personally, i think english is good due to the fact that you can use less words to mean the same thing, there aren't too many "mouth or throat sounds" in the language that are unpleasant to sing or distracting to hear, and the ability to mold the language many different ways in order to get the poetic flow you want but still have the meaning you want. but if we are talking phonetics and ease of singing the language, then probably latin languages like italian. obviously, the real answer is they are all just different and it's a shame we all don't know more languages because i'm sure the songs lose their meaning in translation or lose the impact of turns of phrase because we don't have a similar expression or something.

also, i think the way MOST people sing in english sounds bad and harsh. i use a slight english accent in my singing voice as i find the vowel sounds are more rounded and pleasing to the ear and "r" and "t" sounds are less harsh as well making a lot of words easier to sing. the american accent can be ok, depending on where you are from. i can't stand how john legend sings for example. i don't know why he sings like that, but i can't stand it. same with people like adele and others who sing like that and use that voice. it used to sound original i guess, but now everyone does this over exaggerated american accent.

anyway, just my $0.02. maybe i'm biased as an english speaker, i'm trying to look objectively though.
#7
I've heard some hymn singing in a local Native American language. It sounds nice.
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#8
Quote by Blind In 1 Ear
i've heard opera in english that sounds really good so i don't know what you're talking about, unless you just mean physically singing it? i've heard latin languages are more natural to sing, but i think english may have a slight advantage in terms of phrasing, and the mold-ability of english.

English is a very difficult language to sing because practically every word has a dipthong or a tripthong in it that's hard to sing cleanly. It's also really hard to blend in a choral setting because of harsh vowels. The other three languages are much easier to sing because the vowels are pure.
#9
I like the fact that the great majority of the most used words in English are monosyllables, unlike Spanish where there are many used words that are bi-syllables.
Just to give you some examples:

she = e-lla
for = pa-ra
from = des-de
when = cuán-do
where = dón-de

etc, etc...

It's much easier to accentuate a phrase (when singing) when you have monosyllables.
#10
English is a pretty hard language to sing in. Not impossible though... (obviously.) you kind of have to adapt your composition style to the language you intend for it to be sung in.

EDIT --> It's not as hard to sing in as hebrew though. Ever tried singing the chichester psalms? ****ing difficult.
Last edited by Erc at Jul 8, 2013,
#11
Quote by rollertoaster
I'm from new zealand

Whattup!! Another Kiwi in da house!!!

Yeah I only speak English so it's good to be able to understand what's being said in a song. However with a strong melody and the right attitude it doesn't really matter. Language isn't a barrier to making a great song.

Three songs that did well in English speaking countries that are not sung in English spring instantly to mind...

La Isla Bonita
99 Luftballons
La Bamba


I'm pretty sure there was a huge song that was sung entirely in Korean just recently

the Beatles threw in a line or two of French in the song Michelle. Aside from La Isla Bonita Madonna does quite a bit in foreign languages.

My favourite song in a language other than English though:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TY3F5A9L3V0

I think if you have a good song with a strong melody, any language can sound amazing.
Si
#12
But I'm starting from the basis that you have the same song but in different languages.
#13
I liked the Spanish version better.
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#14
English is a highly adaptive and good for poetry... or lyrics. I think there's a section on it in Phillip Sydney's "A Defence of Poesy".

But other languages can still work great, like this song for example, one of my favourite non-English songs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYrPdOCM4y0
All I want is for everyone to go to hell...
...It's the last place I was seen before I lost myself



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