News Zero Interview (2010.08.03)
Fukuyama Masaharu x Emiri Miyamoto
- on Song-writing, Microphones and Harmonic Overtone Singing
E: Emiri Miyamoto F: Masha
E: This time I interviewed Fukuyama Masaharu-san. Fukuyama-san will be releasing his newest single “Hotaru / Shonen” on the 11th of this month. Having written almost all the music and lyrics of his songs since his debut, and I asked Fukuyama-san about his secrets in music composition.
(Caption: Unrevealed secrets in song writing)
F: Good Morning.
E: Good Morning.
F: Thank you for today.
E: How do you do? I’m Emiri Miyamoto. I’m pleased to meet you today.
F: I’m Fukuyama. Pleased to meet you.
(Hotaru PV snippet)
Fukuyama Masaharu-san’s 26th single is “Hotaru/Shonen”. “Hotaru” is the theme song for the current TV drama “Mioka” starring Yoshitaka Yuriko-san. This is a drama about the short and sad love story between the lead character Mioka who suffers from an incurable disease and her boyfriend.
E: I listened to Fukuyama-san’s song after I read the original novel for “Mioka”, and it stabbed me in the heart. As I listen to it, I could feel what a beautiful song this is.
F: This song, well, the melody itself was written 10 years ago. Even though I liked it a lot, I liked the melody a lot, I just couldn’t get the right opportunity and timing to present it out. This time, they asked me about this type of job again “Do you want to make another theme song for drama?”. So I started to work on it once more. I only wrote the lyrics recently.
E: Listening to Fukuyama-san’s voice, I could feel the overtones resonating from inside you.
F: That’s right. In fact, there were.
(Caption: Harmonic overtones - where different pitches are sounded at the same time to create a timbre or tone quality.)
Human singing is generated from the resonance of musical tones. This resonance can be controlled to create overtones. Say in singing the single note “do”, some people’s voices consist of a harmony of 3 notes (sounded together), while some voices have a harmony of 7 notes etc. The number of overtones within the human voice differs greatly with each person.
(with caption) Generally speaking, the more overtones there are, the “richer” the voice.
E: Can you feel it yourself?
F: Sometimes, yes. Like in a house, you’d hear echoes in a room sounding the same pitch as your voice.
F: Say in the toilet…..
E: Yes, the toilet….(laugh)
F: The echoes in the toilet have a frequency band that resounds with a “ba-an” (hollow?). I go to the toilets a lot to explore that. I’ll go “ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah…” to find that sound. “So this room resonates with this frequency….(hums out) Mmmmmm….like that.” (Emiri laughs.)
E: It’s all part of daily life?
F: Music is a part of daily life.
E: Yes, that’s true.
F: Have you ever thought of singing?
E: I don’t sing.
F: Then what do you sing in Karaoke?
E: I play my instrument (violin)
F: You play your instrument?
F: When you get to the karaoke, you go “pak” (demonstrates opening the violin case) and then this (demonstrates playing the violin)?
E: Yes……basically I go to the karaoke to practise my classical pieces.
F: Oh I see. I thought you go there with your friends (Emiri laughs) and when they start singing AKB48, you’d accompany them on the violin. (Emiri laughs)
E: (still laughing) I’m not as good as that……
F: That would be incredible.
E: When you’re recording or playing (instruments) in the studio, what would Fukuyama-san pay particular attention to?
F: Oh, let’s see….. that’ll be the microphone. Well, I use my (personal) mic* in recording…..not those you take to karaokes!* Definitely not those gold shiny ones!
In fact, when we went to his recording studio last time, Fukuyama-san had told Zero about his requirements in microphones. So, what are they?
(Caption: What were the mic requirements he told Zero?)
Last year, Zero followed Fukuyama Masaharu-san through his activities for his 20th year and we saw how particular he was in the use of microphones.
(With caption) September 30th, last year
(Caption: Recording for the new Single)
This day, Fukuyama-san had just completed his national tour and was busy recording for his new single. That was the time he talked to us about his principal requirements in selecting microphones.
F: In this day and age, where we use hard disks and digital signals in recording, people are constantly looking for clearer sound qualities. So things like the microphone becomes especially important. (Points to the mic) This has to be flat, without any unevenness on the surface, so it can pick up a wide range of tones from high to low. It facilitates music making. I’d hate it if we can’t get the balance of high to low tones.
Fukuyama-san has moved almost all his favourite equipment into the recording studio. These are all equipment he has researched into and collected, over his 20 years as a musician.
E: I had also written a song once…
F: Only one?
E: Yes, just one.
F: I’m surprised.
E: It’s hard for us in classical music to write something along those lines.
F: Keep writing. It’s not everyday (we can do this).
E: I want to, but I just don’t get a chance…..
F: Do you get a sudden impulse or feeling to write something?
E: Yes. I want to write, but everytime I get that feeling, I end up with just 2 or 3 phrases in the chorus, then no more.
F: So you’d play the melody out as you write down what you feel?
E: As a habit, rather than singing it out, playing the violin makes it easier for the notes to appear in my head. But then I’ll be drawn in quite naturally towards what I’m used to playing.
F: Ah, your hands will take over to (play the music) you’re used to.
F: It’s the same when I write my songs. I try not to touch my guitar at the onset. I’ll just close my eyes and listen with my ears. Even without instruments, the melody will come from inside the body, inside the head. If I played a “G” chord on the guitar, that sound of the “G” chord will reverberate through my head and stick there, so I try not to play at all. Now when I start to hear the melody in my head, I’ll write it down on the score. That’s the way I do it.
E: Will the melody appear in one go, from the start to the end, when you write?
F: It depends. Sometimes it starts with the lead-in part of the a-melo (first verse), sometimes the chorus appears first. Once we can find a melody inside that we feel good about, that itself will guide us towards which way to take.
(Back at the News Zero Studio)
E: Fukuyama-san is a very friendly person. We were laughing throughout the interview. But I was also able to feel very strongly his expertise on tone quality as an artist…..(skipped)…..and with respect to songwriting, it’s not often I get to interview an artist in this field, so it was a valuable experience for me. Fukuyama Masaharu-san ’s new single will be released on the 11th next week.
~ Scripted from News Zero (2010.08.03) ~
1. Harmonic Overtone singing - Basically, from wikipedia, “the singer creates a reasonance as air travels from the lungs, past the vocal folds and out the lips” so as to sing a harmony of notes simultaneously, not just a basic note. More info on - Harmonic overtone singing, overtones and tone quality / timbre. Here’s a demo - (1) / (2)
2. “My Mic” マイマイク is a term generally used to describe personal microphones people bring to use in karaokes etc.
3. A-melo means the first verse - more info here
Translated from the Chinese version on sunnydolphin’s blog, with reference to the Japanese subtitles on the clip.
This translation was first posted on MashaPlus [dot] Info Forums. (Registration required to enter.)