音の帯〜Phonon Belt

Hirasawa Susumu (Unofficial) Lyrics & Other Sundry Translations

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"Phantom Notes" Notes: Theta/Beta and U-Turn Commute
Hirasawa - Cookie
Mr. Hirasawa's sporadically updated "Phantom Notes" blog is an interesting place. I won't even try translating more than a tiny percent of it simply because it's too much work (even though the archives as far as I can tell go back to "only" 2003). Still, I am going to try to pick out interesting things from it now and then and translate or summarize them here. Hence these entries will be called "Phantom Notes Notes" or "PNN." :D

Today's PNN features two key bits of important Hirasawa vocabulary:

1. Theta and Beta:

At the top of all his Phantom Notes posts you'll see the symbols θ and β, plus some random numbers. What do they mean?

Translation of excerpt from July 8, 2003 (original post here):

I'll go ahead and explain the meaning of θ [theta] and β [beta]. These broadly represent Hirasawa's psychological inclinations on a given day. Both numbers together will add up to 10. When theta is high, my mental state is suited for creation and imagining; when beta is high, I am best able to process reality. It may be interesting to examine things like which mental state is more dominant when I'm in the middle of recording music, which mental state I have when I write interesting lyrics or statements, etc. The theta and beta numbers will be written at the top of each post. I may even post only the numbers sometimes, depending on the circumstances.

On that post, both theta and beta were at 5, evenly balanced. I am going to hazard a guess and say that he's basing this on brain wave patterns. Theta waves apparently are associated with "quiet wakefulness," meditation, and learning; beta waves, on the other hand, relate to muscle motion. That would sort of match up with Mr. Hirasawa's use of theta for creativity and beta for activity in his blog. He's also expressed interest in the use of music and sound (specifically binaural beats and the like) to induce certain brain wave patterns in humans for meditative and even therapeutic reasons, so this isn't actually all that random. I wouldn't be surprised if he is actually somehow measuring his own brain waves with some weird device.

2. U-Turn Commute:

Mr. Hirasawa often posts on Twitter and elsewhere that he's going out for his "U-turn commute," which makes no sense unless you know what this piece of Hirasawa Language means.

The following post also mentions a "dagonfai," which is how Hirasawa says Thai speakers pronounce the English word dragonfly. Presumably he thinks this is cute. I don't know. At any rate "dagonfai" = "dragonfly."

Translation of post from August 6, 2003 (original post here):

Dagonfai on My Commute

θ=6 β=4

My U-turn commute on my recumbent bicycle is part of my daily routine. I set out from my studio and then ride back to my studio. That's a "U-turn commute." It was raining for the past few days so I had been working without doing my commute. Meanwhile, lotus flowers appeared along my commuting route without anyone knowing. Huh? Did they bloom here last year, too? I captured the beautifully reposing lotuses on the verge of blooming with my cell phone camera. It would be uncouth of me to just return to my studio after that, so I sat down and gazed at the flowers for about an hour. That, too, is part of my work.

Thus the machine sat down and gazed at the lotuses. I have in my head a number of materials about the symbolism of the lotus, how that relates to Hirasawa, and the like. But I wondered about the dagonfai that kept landing on the lotus buds before flitting away again (though you can't see it in the photo I posted here). I'm practically ignorant when it comes to dragonflies.

When that sort of thing happens, I turn to the following book:

Dictionary of Symbols and Imagery by A. de Vries


● Represents the spirit of a deceased person. Also represents rebirth or immortality.

That much is possible for me to fundamentally agree with. However, what's written after that is problematic:

● Represents male dominance.
● Among countries, it symbolizes Japan.


This entry was originally posted at http://phonon-belt.dreamwidth.org/9166.html.

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"He's also expressed interest in the use of music and sound (specifically binaural beats and the like) to induce certain brain wave patterns in humans for meditative and even therapeutic reasons, so this isn't actually all that random. I wouldn't be surprised if he is actually somehow measuring his own brain waves with some weird device."

This is really interesting, I'd never heard of binaural beats before, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Hirasawa is incorporating these kinds of things into his music. Honestly, I have never found any other musician who's music is so addictive! Or so effective for having spaced-out visualisations to. O_O A number of others have mentioned that they find this as well, so I reckon something's going on…

He's tinkering with our minds… and I like it! ;)

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Hirasawa is incorporating these kinds of things into his music

Now that you mention it, yeah, that wouldn't be surprising! O_O And it's true, his songs create VERY vivid images in my head. I generally listen to whatever song I like over and over again for hours or days on end, but the effect is much more disturbing pronounced with Hirasawa music. I suspect you are on to something.

I will now return to having Hirasawa mind-altering rays beamed directly into my head.

Brain waves!
I believe I heave heard he has had interest in them for a while. I know I read something a while back...
Especially relating to ANOTHER GAME. A lot farther back than this blog post, of course, but I'm certain ANOTHER GAME step 1 and AWAKENING SLEEP ~αclick are related to this concept. ANOTHER GAME step 1 sounds almost like some sort of hypnosis track, although it's not Hirasawa who's speaking (I believe it's keyboardist Shunichi Miura) and I have no idea who wrote the track. AWAKENING SLEEP ~αclick is hypnotic in a different way, and ah, if you notice the alpha in the name there. Another kind of brain wave, of course, but the song might relax listeners beyond the range between beta and theta that alpha is, haha! I don't think the clicks are being used as binaural beats, but wouldn't be referenced as "alpha clicks" for nothing! Hypnotic...

It is interesting how Hirasawa notates his state of mind. My mind wants to map theta to "introverted" activities, which does correspond nicely to his own way of putting it - "creation and imaging", as well of the traditional ways of describing the theta state. And of course, my mind wants to map beta to "extroverted" - the way he says, or at least how you translated, he is "best able to process reality." I wonder what exactly he means by that, but I could assume it means things like being alert and aware, perhaps social, energetic, etc. So I imagine when Hirasawa is not in a very high beta-y mood, he's probably peacefully daydreaming or composing. Sounds pretty nice, actually...

I think Hirasawa's exercise routine here has probably put us all to shame. And the lotuses! For Hirasawa, it seems they are on a level far deeper than even the conventional symbolism. There was probably nobody around who would consider leaving the lotuses that suddenly appeared after taking a picture rude. Out of respect for perhaps not only the lotuses themselves for what they stand foor, I suppose. And of course flowers are so pretty too, there's many flowers blooming in my own yard right now I like to look at. Maybe not for an hour, but probably a bit meditative, and I think Hirasawa would definitely, definitely, use meditative/meditative-like states as part of the creative process. I've heard he's rather the Jungian, and his interest in symbolism is quite interesing. I found it a bit pecuiliar that he looked up the occurance of the dragonfly in physical reality in a book. Hopefully he just uses the book as just a guideline, having some interest in such things myself, I can't regard such things as absolute, though I can see their use. It's interesting that the dragonfly had such a related meaning to the lotusses it flitted around. And the other meanings are quite interesting. I can see how he'd regard male dominance as problematic, given some of the things he say about gender. And of course the dragonfly representing Japan I imagine it would seem pecuilar. Definitely interested in other cases how he regards symbolism. Imagining shocked Hirasawa.

Also, his comment about "the machine sat down", I wonder if that's supposed to be a double meaning referring to both his bike and himself.

Ah, nice catch. Yeah, relistening to it now, "Another Game" and the like do sound like they incorporate brain wave-influencing sounds and music. There's also a radio show from the mid-1990s where Hirasawa plays some more samples of such music and (if I remember correctly) says he finds this sort of music most effective when listened to for 40+ minutes. It sounded like he already had a long-standing interest in the topic at that point, which makes it even more likely that back during "Another Game" they were already experimenting with that kind of sound in their music. :)

I've heard he's rather the Jungian
I'm hearing this from multiple sources, too. XD But I'm not well-versed in Jung's theories, other than what I've picked up about Archetypes. :/ But knowing that Hirasawa is consciously aware of possible symbolic meanings makes it even more interesting that his music seems to have a profound effect on listeners around the world. Whether that's a calculated effect or not, he seems to tap into things that many people from all walks of life feel connected to.

"the machine sat down", I wonder if that's supposed to be a double meaning referring to both his bike and himself
Yeah, no idea. It is very hard to translate his words sometimes since he (1) has a very unique way of expressing himself and (2) builds up many layers of self-references in his writing, which makes it hard to decipher if you haven't had the chance to absorb EVERYTHING he's ever written. (Or so it seems to me.) Even the "dagonfai" thing came from an entirely different blog post; this one here seemed to take for granted that the readers would know what "dagonfai" meant without any further explanation. There may well be some other place where he describes himself or his bike or his own brain or whatever as a "machine." :)

For the lucky fans of Hirasawa in the mid-90's, it must have been pretty cool to listen to that radio show when it aired. Thank goodness for the people who record these kinds of things onto cassettes and then upload them to the internet~

40 minutes, huh? Well most tracks of things specifically engineered as binaural CDs seem to go for around 30 minutes. For example there are various CDs around the house that have 2 of such on there. Do they work? Well it's been a while and I don't listen much. They're actually my dad's, but somehow I think listening to them in front of a computer with two speakers is not anywhere as effective as using headphones - mainly because everything I've heard about binaural says headphones are best - although a concert might could provide that sort of immersion too - and of course there's probably many other sound-on-mind type effects besides binaural too.

Yes, I don't really know much about Jung's theories myself. Although they remind me more of philosophy than psychology. But the whole collective unconscious idea goes very nicely with what you said about tapping into things many different people can connect to. And too, so amazingly profoundly. The fact that he's interpreting symbols around him the way he seems to be doing, channeling that into amazing music, is quite something. Many people who probably end up looking at symbols and becoming super-superstitious, or dismissing any connections entirely. A very interesting point of view, that will no doubt reveal itself to be more complex the more we find out about.

With the amount of cross-referencing he does, it's almost like some sort of odd wiki. Only one where the meanings unfold themselves as you hunt for clues to meanings of the things he mentions.

Just a note on the binaural thing; I've done a bit of research online and it looks like binaural recording and binaural beats are two different things. I don't know much about music technology, so I may be wrong, but I think binaural is a recording technique whereas, binaural beats are something that is actually in the music itself.
I've read they can sound a bit strange on their own, so are often mixed into music, so you can't really detect them, but you get the effects - a bit like mixing medicine into a flavoured drink I guess! ^_^

As for the 'effects', there are all sorts of strange claims out there as to what it can do. I don't know whether to be sceptical or not, as many of these are on websites that are selling such CDs, but I'm pretty open-minded about these things - anything's possible I reckon! So maybe I should find some and test them out :D

As for what you said about tapping into things that many different people can connect to, I wonder if there are any parallels in the kind of visualisations that people get when listening to his music? I've often wondered whether such visualisations are 100% personal or in some way suggested by the music, i.e. a song being able to conjure up images of the sea for example - the same vision but in multiple people. (And without any obvious reference like sounds of waves, etc.)

If that is possible, then that would be fascinating to know how that works, as you would technically be 'hearing' a vision… O_O

Hmm, don't know anything about recording tech, either. The brain wave music stuff on that radio show I mentioned somewhere above in a comment was definitely based on weird, almost uncomfortable beats with a light, normal melody slowly mxing in, just like you said...and by the end of the clip even the uncomfortable beat started to feel nicer. I'll have to dig around and find the link to that episode again sometime. ^^

I think some years ago there was a computer program that claimed to induce a high much like that of drugs just through sounds/music, but it's, uh, generally not considered affective. I suspect for relaxation or meditation there might be some truth to the rumors of the effects, though.

I wonder if there are any parallels in the kind of visualisations that people get
Maybe someone should post on the LJ comm and take a survey of what people picture for a given song! I'm curious, too.

you would technically be 'hearing' a vision
That would be crazy. But I did experience the reverse once, in 'seeing' a song--there's a famous painting by Caspar David Friedrich of a lone monk by the sea. The moment I saw it in a museum I heard Hirasawa-style music in my head (even though I hadn't listened to it at all that day). After I went home I found that the song closest to what I heard was the refrain of "Colony," which happens to mention a lone person standing on the shore. (A similar effect happened with another painting soon after, but with a different song.) Very weird!

I suspect we're all being brainwashed until we hear his music no matter we're doing.

Yeah, I'd be interested to hear that radio show.

"Maybe someone should post on the LJ comm and take a survey of what people picture for a given song! I'm curious, too."

Good idea! I think I'll take you up on that. Could be interesting!

Your experience with the painting was pretty weird, especially since it correlated with the lyrics. Perhaps there was a subconscious connection going on there? Brains are such weird things! But I guess that's what happens if you go more than 24 hours without listening to Hirasawa - your ears start hallucinating! :D

Oh, do post on the comm! Should be fun. :)

I do love how we are now seriously discussing brain waves and such here. XD

Out of interest, would anyone else on here be up for a Hirasawa visualisation experiment? =D
If so, then I'll post!

Ok, to do this, I'm thinking of putting forward 3 songs to start with, and asking people on here to report what they've visualised when they listen to them. Has anyone got any suggestions as to which songs to use? I'm trying to pick ones that don't already have anything visual associated with them, so as not to influence anybody. I'm also trying to avoid songs that have something visual implied in the title, e.g. 'Tide' always gives me watery visions.

So if you have any preferences, let me know. But don't say what you've visualised just yet! =)

This sounds like fun!

Would a song like "Sign" work, perhaps? As far as I know, no one knows what, if any, language the lyrics are in, which would make it pretty neutral. My only concern is that people familiar with "Berserk" would have strong associations with it.

I also think songs from "Philosopher's Propeller" might be good because the titles alone don't suggest all that much.

Yes, I'm looking forward to this too!

'Sign' could be a good one. I haven't seen Beserk, so I wouldn't be influenced by it, but as you said, others might. :/ I'd like to have included 'Forces', as I think it's a brilliantly powerful song, but again, people would just think of Beserk, so it needs to be as neutral as possible.

I'll look into 'Philosopher's Propeller', although a few of the songs on that album were adapted for Millennium Actress, which would rule them out...

Hmm. This is tricky! >_<

So THAT'S WHY the clicks at the end of "Awakening Sleep - Alpha Click" are soothing instead of annoying.

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