Saturday, April 17, 2010

Music From Japan

It's been one year (today) since the beginning of our 6-month tour of Japan. I realized recently that some of our most vivid memories take the form of music. I still can recall some of the jingles that played in the stores in our neighborhood. TV and radio was full of songs we heard routinely, and they bring us right back when we hear them again now. (e.g. I heard these on a children's program practically every day before going to work.)

Some songs we had the foresight to take back with us. (Others - it turns out - get deleted when you synchronize your iphone to the wrong computer upon returning. grrr!) I wanted to learn to play some of them myself (e.g. on a piano). We have a toy camera (which makes flash and camera noises, but doesn't take pictures) that plays the Anpanman theme song in NES-style beeps [original]. I converted the music from the camera into sheet music via an open source program called "Lilypond". It works by hand-writing a text file with musical markup that Lilypond knows how to read. It's a rather painstaking process, but the program will automatically create a PDF of sheet music from your source text file, and even a MIDI file.

I haven't learned to play it very well yet (like this guy), but now I can relearn it when I forget it. Here's the PDF of the sheet music, and the ho-hum MIDI file (sounds like a piano played by a robot). For those curious, here's the source that generated them.


Kurisu said...

Did you ever get to Yamada Denki ( or Bic Camera? (

Brian said...

The Yamada one is quite familiar. There was a store only ~100 yards away from my apt, after all. Thanks for the link.

I don't think I was ever in a Bic Camera store.

One I had on my phone before I deleted it was the 7-11 song. That one still runs through my head sometimes.