Sat. Mar 25th, 2023

shaper Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman has been enjoying massive success in Japan over the past two decades as both a musician and TV star. Friedman recently touched on how he got to be a TV star, and now he’s explaining what the differences are between the US and Japan in terms of mainstream hits.

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In a lengthy post on Facebook, Friedman discussed the concept of “heta-uma” and how touching up the vocals greatly differs between the two countries. It’s an interesting read that goes beyond just “what makes music popular,” and dives pretty deep into the culture behind it all.

“Ok gang, I’ve been on tour in the USA for a week now and I’ve heard more American music in that week than in the last year or so in Japan. I have to say that I like a lot of it The songwriting, arrangements and performances are great, and its easy to see why songs are hits.

“Of course everything is on the [grid], perfectly tuned and quantized, but that has been the norm in the US for a couple decades now. Speaking generally, the main difference between USA mainstream hits and those in Japan, is the way vocals are tuned. In the USA, you have excellent vocalists, and their performances are tuned to absolute perfection. In Japan, a great vocalist is nice but the magic of a particular singers unique, and slightly vulnerable voice is far more revered, regardless of the singer`s vocal abilities.

“Of course Japanese vocals are also tuned, but only to the point of fixing small pitch nuances that are unacceptable. The concept of ‘heta-uma’ (a voice that is not so good, but has a magic to it that is far more attractive than pristine vocal technique) is alive and well in Japan.

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“This is one thing I love about Japanese music. A perfect vocal performance is nice but ultimately can be very boring. A ‘weaker’ more vulnerable voice sets of a subliminal desire to want to ‘root for’ or ‘support’ the singer. This is HUGE in Japanese music. If the singer is boldly nailing super strong vocals, in a powerful fashion, it is impressive, but it also sends a huge message like ‘I don’t nee your help.’

“Ultimately it is a matter of taste, there is no good or bad in music or art. For me though, I am so happy that I discovered the magic of ‘heta-uma,’ because it allows you to enjoy music on a level that reflects your personal taste exactly, rather than judging the ability of a vocalist.BTW this goes for other instruments as well.

“You know what I mean?”

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By ublvu