Japanese Songs
- Introduction -

>> Japanese Page

1 How to Practice Songs
 1-1 The Model and Karaoke Versions
 1-2 Vocabulary Lists and Grammatical Terms
 1-2-1 Inflection of Verbs
 1-2-2 Inflection of Adjectives
 1-2-3 Special Characteristics of Some Song Lyrics
 1-2-3-1 Baby Talk
 1-2-3-2 Spoken Language
 1-2-3-3 Classical Grammar
2 About This Web Site
 2-1 PC and Software Used
 2-2 How the 56 Songs were Chosen
 2-3 English Titles
 2-4 Standards for Classification of the 56 Songs
     in terms of Difficulty of Japanese Language Levels
 2-5 Acknowledgements

Top | Japanese language level | Title | First phrase | Genre
Lyrics writer | Composer | Popularity

1 How to Practice Songs

This web site presents 56 Japanese songs.
For each song, users are provided access to the lyrics, a vocal score with lyrics, a model vocal version, a karaoke version and a vocabulary list.

  1-1 The Model and Karaoke Versions

karaoke versionFirst, listen to the model vocal version of a song,
and then try to sing with the karaoke version of the song.
model vocal version

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  1-2  Vocabulary Lists and Grammatical Terms

For elementary level songs, levels 1 to 3, all words with the exception of particles found in the lyrics can be found on the vocabulary list (in the Japanese page).
However, for intermediate and advanced level songs, levels 4 to 8, only words in the lyrics judged to be an intermediate level or higher can be found on the vocabulary list.
The reading for all kanji for all levels are provided for each song.

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  1-2-1 Inflection of Verbs

[V] on vocabulary list indicates a verb.

Group 1Group 2Group 3
-masu form (polite) utaitobimitabeshiki
-te form (V and...) utattetondemitetabeteshitekite
-ta form (past) utattatondamitatabetashitakita
-nai form (negative) utawatobamitabeshiko
dictionary form
(plain non-past)
potential form utaerutoberumirareru
volitional form utaoutoboumiyoutabeyoushiyoukoyou
imperative form utaetobemirotaberoshirokoi
conditional form utaebatobebamirebataberebasurebakureba

Group 1Group 2Group 3
suggestion form of -masu V-masu + mashoutai-mashomi-mashoshi-masho
imperative expression V-masu + nasaiutai-nasaimi-nasaishi-nasai
be V-ing V-te + iruutate irumite irushite iru
if/when... V-ta + rautata-ramita-rashita-ra
even if... V-te + moutate-momite-moshite-mo
negative -te form V-nai + zu niutawa-zu nimi-zu ni*se-zu ni
prohibitive form V-ru + nautau namiru nasuru na
passive form V-nai + (ra)reruutawa-rerumi-rareru*sa-reru
causative form V-nai + (sa)seruutawa-serumi-saseru*sa-seru

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  1-2-2 Inflection of Adjectives

[A] on a vocabulary list indicates an adjective.

root akaiookiinodokasamazama
noun modification akaiookiinodokanasamazamana
plain non-past akaiookiinodokadasamazamada
adverbial akakuookikunodokanisamazamani

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  1-2-3 Special Characteristics of Some Song Lyrics

'Doyo' and 'Shoka' are special songs written for children, similar to nursery rhymes.
Since they were written specifically for children, a lot of 'baby talk' is used in the lyrics.
Also as many of these songs were written from the Meiji Period (1868-1912) to the early years of the Showa Period (1926-1989), there are also many classical words used in the lyrics.
Furthermore, many words from 'spoken' Japanese also appear.
This book uses the marks below to distinguish these special words.

standard language-
current Japanese-
baby talkex. o-tsuki-sama (tsuki)
spoken languageex. wakara-n (wakara-nai)
rarely used wordex. kinezumi (risu)
obsolete expressionex. nan to sho (do sho)
classical wordex. ito (taihen)
classical grammarex. yama-nu (yama-nai)
dialect wordex. kanakai (jama)
The words in the parentheses after the examples indicate an example of standard language or current Japanese.

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  1-2-3-1 Baby Talk

In polite Japanese speech the prefix 'o-' is often used before nouns, such as 'okuni (your country)' or 'onamae (your name)'.
However, the 'o-' as seen in the following cases is different.
'Ouchi (home)', 'ouma (hourse)', 'oyama (mountain)', 'otete (hands)' or 'otsukisama (moon)' are examples of Japanese baby talk.
When adults speak to each other, these words are not used.
These expressions are only used when speaking to small children.
Baby talk often appears in lyrics.
Japanese language learners should be careful about the usage of these words.
'-sama' of 'otsukisama (moon)' and 'kaminarisama (thunder)' are also examples of baby talk.

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  1-2-3-2 Spoken Language

The following table shows some examples of spoken language that often appear in these song lyrics.

abbreviation 'u' V-mashoushi-masho (shi-mashou)
kake-masho (kake-mashou)
V-u (volitional form)yuko (yukou)
tabaso (tobasou)
othersdaro (darou)
mo-ichido (mou ichido)
'i' V-te iruoyoide-ru (oyoide iru)
ukande-ru (ukande iru)
V-te ikuhaitte-ku (haitte iku)
otherskawai (kawaii)
alternation 'n' V-nai -> V-nwakara-n (wakara-nai)
othersanta (anata)
son-nara (sore nara)
'ya' V-te shimau -> V-chauicchatta (itte shimatta)
nacchate (natte shimatte)
V-ba -> V-yakuraberya (kurabereba)
tsumanya (tsumaneba)
otherstomodacha (tomodachi wa)
addition double consonantyappari (yahari)
'n' (the syllabic nasal)anmari (amari)
minna (mina)
long sounddaare (dare)

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  1-2-3-3 Classical Grammar

The following table shows some examples of classical Japanese grammar that often appear in these song lyrics.

V-nai form V-nai form + nu yamu -> yama-nu (yama-nai)
kakaru -> kakara-nu (kakara-nai)
V-te form V-masu form + te naru -> nari-te (natte)
suu -> sui-te (sutte)
V-u (volitional form) V-nai form + n yuku -> yuka-n (yuko)
kaeru -> kaera-n (kaero)
V-ta form V-masu form + shi ou -> oi-shi (otta)
tsuru -> tsuri-shi (tsutta)
i-Adj (predicate:
plain, non-past)
root + shi awa-shi (awai)
fuka-shi (fukai)
(noun modification)
root + ki ao-ki (aoi)
natsukashi-ki (natsukashii)

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2 About This Web Site

  2-1 PC and Software Used

The vocal score files, the karaoke MIDI files , and the sample vocal MP3 files were produced using an Apple iMac (MacOS9.1) computer.

1) MIDI Files for Karaoke

MIDI files were produced using ScoreMaker 2.1 (KAWAI).
When no suitable musical score was available, files were arranged into karaoke MIDI files using EZVision-J 3.02 (Opcode Systems, Inc.), Band-in-a-Box 7.0J (PG MUSIC Inc.), or Encore 4.1.2 (Passport Designs, Inc.).

2) MP3 Files for Sample Vocal Versions

Voices for the samples were recorded by the iMac, which also played the karaoke MIDI files simultaneously.
The recorded songs were then edited and kept as WAVE files using SOUNDEDIT16 V.2J (MACROMEDIA).
The WAVE files were then converted to MP3 files using iTunes J-2.0.4 (APPLE).

3) Vocal Scores

Vocal scores were produced by adding lyrics to the musical scores using ScoreMaker 2.1 (KAWAI).
Graphics were produced using ScreenShot; a utility which creates a PICT file of the screen.
These graphics were then converted from PICT files to GIF files by GraphicConverter 3.9 (Lemke Software).

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  2-2 How the 56 Songs were Chosen

The particular 56 songs included were chosen considering the following two points: one was the song’s relative popularity among Japanese people, and the other was whether the song was royalty-free or not.

1) Questionnaire Regarding Songs' Popularity

First, 185 songs were chosen which could be found in more than two well-known Japanese songbooks, such as "Nihon no Shiika" (Chuo Koron Sya), "Nihon Doyo Shu" (Iwanami Bunko), "Nihon Shoka Shu" (Iwanami Bunko), or which I know well.
After analyzing the result of questionnaires to investigate which songs are most popular, a clear difference was observed in the popularity of the 185 songs.
As a result of the questionnaire, relatively popular songs were chosen for inclusion.

2) Copyrights

When musical compositions and lyrics are used, copyrights must be taken into account.
It is possible to check whether the copyright of a song has ended or not with the aid of The Musical Work Information Database 'J-WID' presented by JASRAC (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers: http://www.jasrac.or.jp).
The included 56 famous songs were found to be royalty-free in terms of both the composer and the author.

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  2-3 English Titles

The English titles for most of the songs come from the information that appears in ‘J-WID’: the Musical Work Information Database, presented by JASRAC. However for several of the included songs, an English title was not provided in J-WID. In those cases, I have provided a rough translation for the English title.

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  2-4 Standards for Classification of the 56 Songs in terms of Difficulty of Japanese Language Levels

The 56 songs are classified into 8 Japanese language levels according to the following 3 standards.

1) Vocabulary Level

The levels of all the words in the lyrics were checked according to standards set in "Ichimango Goi Bunrui Shu (Revised Edition)" (Senmon Kyouiku Publishing), which is an educational reference book which classifies Japanese vocabulary according to level of difficulty.
The songs were subsequently classified into 4 groups: (i) songs containing many elementary level words, (ii) songs containing many intermediate level words, (iii) songs containing many advanced level words, and (iv) songs containing many classical words or dialect words.

2) Grammar Level

The level of all the grammar in the lyrics was checked according to standards set in "Japanese Language Proficiency Test: Test content Specifications (Revised Edition)" (Bonjinsha), and consequently classified into 3 groups: (i) songs containing only elementary level grammar, (ii) songs containing intermediate or advanced level grammar, and (iii) songs containing classical grammar.

3) Others

There are some songs, whose words or grammar are not intrinsically difficult, but nevertheless the meaning of lyrics is hard to understand.
Such songs were categorized in the higher level groups.

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  2-5 Acknowledgements

This work was produced with the help of many people.
I owe a particular debt of gratitude to Mr. ANAYAMA Tsutomu, Ms. AOKI Kyoko, Ms. OTA Kazuko, Ms. OBA Elizabeth, Ms. KAMIKAWA Yasuko, Ms. KUBO Minako, KOYAMA Kate, Ms. TAKARADA Chiho, Ms. TAKEKUMA Naoko, Mr. FUTAMURA Fumito, Ms. YAMAZAKI Keiko, and Ms. YOMON Miki.
They sang songs, arranged melodies, gave me valuable advise about music and Japanese vocabulary, collected questionnaires, took photos, painted pictures and checked the English. I want to express my deep thanks to them all.

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Top | Japanese language level | Title | First phrase | Genre
Lyrics writer | Composer | Popularity

Copyright (C)2004 HAMADA, Miwa All Rights Reserved.