Music Translation

A lot of people believe that it’s not necessary to have the help of a specialist for the translation of music. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. First of all, you should know that there are several types of translations. It might seem obvious that the translation of an advertising brochure will need to be based on a number of key points that will vary significantly from, say, a literary translation, to give a simple example. And so the same thing happens with music.

An unspecific translation of a musical work would significantly undermine its quality; and that is why the adaptation of operas, musicals, and song lyrics requires the help of a music translation company, able to go beyond a mere literal translation. We present you with the key points below.

What tasks are carried out by a music translation company?

Music translations are closely tied to literary translation. Or more specifically, with the adaptation of poetry, because it must take into account elements such as rhyme, rhythm, or musicality. That’s why we’re looking at one of the most complicated types of translation there is.

Music translation remains one of the great unknowns. This is because the demand for it is lower than for the other types of translations: one thinks that not all music is created to be translated. But this doesn’t mean that it is less necessary: music translation requires adapting the content without ever losing sight of the rhythm, which makes a translator’s job difficult (and very much so).

Some considerations:

1. Free translation or literal translation?

When you need to translate a particular song, you should consider whether you need it to be read or sung. In the first case, the translator will probably opt for a literal translation, offering you a text that is faithful to the original, but without rhythm. However, if it is to be sung, it will require a free translation, running the risk, in this case, of modifying the original intention: that’s why free translation requires greater precautions and skill.

2. Technical aspects of music translation

Adjusting syllables to notes and tempos is one of the tasks that music translators should pay close attention to. The adjustments that can be made are of various types:

Absolute mimicry: it consists of respecting the number of syllables present in the original text, as well as their respective accents (typical of classical music).

Relative mimicry: although it respects the number of syllables, it doesn’t always respect the linguistic accents of the original text.

Adding syllables: without altering the melody, this technique can change the syllables in terms of both number and length (usual in pop music).

Eliminating syllables: it consists of using fewer syllables, as they are lengthened by including silences in the lyrics.

As you can see, the work of a music translation company is one of the most complex and fascinating within the world of translation. If you need a certified translator for the adaptation of musical works, contact us, and we’ll be happy to provide more information.

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