Marty Friedman explains how “perfectly tuned and quantized” American music is different from Japanese music
Marty Friedman has shared his thoughts on the differences between American and Japanese music following his return to the US for a tour with Queensrÿche.
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In a Facebook post on 10 March, Friedman shared that he enjoyed a lot of the American music he had heard upon embarking on the tour, having lived in Japan for the past two decades. “The songwriting, arrangements and performances are great, and its easy to see why songs are hits,” Friedman wrote, adding, “Of course everything is on the gird, 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,” Friedman continued, pointing out that Americans have excellent vocalists whose performances have been tuned to “absolute perfection”. However, in Japan, he explained, “the magic of a particular singer’s unique, and slightly vulnerable voice” is far more revered, with tuning being used mainly to fix small pitch nuances.
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…
Posted by Marty Friedman on Thursday, March 9, 2023
“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,” Friedman shared, adding, “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.’
The concept, Friedman wrote, has allowed him to allow music according to his own personal taste, rather than judging the ability of a vocalist. “BTW this goes for other instruments as well,” he concluded, adding that there was no good or bad in music or art.
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