Working with music texts, Part 2: Translate the text

Posted: June 15, 2012 in Android, annotation, apps, arias, art song, choral, cloud storage, forScore, French, German, iPad, Italian, Latin, libretto, lieder, opera, sheet music, smartphone, studying, tablet, texts, translation, websites
Nico Castel libretti on bookshelf

Credit: The Juilliard Store

This is part 2 of the Tech tools for working with music texts series.

Step 2: Translate the text

My next step is to translate the text I’m singing. I like to do a word-for-word translation and write it into my score. If I’m short on time, or if I have difficulty translating the text myself, I’ll look for a translation from one of these sources. Some of them have literal translations, some have poetic translations, and some have both.  I generally double-check the translations I find online, as they occasionally contain mistakes.

If I’m doing the translation myself, these are the main tech tools and references I use:

If I got really stuck on a translation problem, another option would be to post the translation work I have done so far on a forum like ChoralNet, the New Forum for Classical Singers, or a language-learning forum and ask the community for help.

As I work, I like to type my translation into the Evernote or Dropbox document I created earlier that contains the original text.  Once my translation is done, I can write it into my score on my iPad with the forScore app’s annotation feature.  I can either use the “Draw” option and write it in freehand with my stylus (zooming in if there’s limited space to write in) or the “Type” option and type it in, adding extra spaces between words so that my word-for-word translation lines up properly with each word of the original text.  I may also write in a paraphrase or poetic translation, in a different color than the literal translation just so my eye can distinguish.  If there’s some pesky, godawful singing translation already printed in the score, I can erase it first using forScore’s “Whiteout Pen” option.

It’s during these kinds of tasks that I really appreciate having a tablet.  I like having the equivalent of a big, heavy bookshelf full of dictionaries and reference books and scores all on this slim little tablet that I can take anywhere. The information is accessible to me at any time and place, so I can work on the translation wherever I happen to be.  With my translation document stored in the cloud using Evernote or Dropbox, I can read it or work on it regardless of whether I have my laptop, iPad, or phone with me.

There are some other kinds of translation tech resources that I haven’t looked into yet but would like to, for example, translation-related iPad apps (myLanguage Translator Pro looks interesting and has good reviews) and also dictionaries/references in app or ebook format that work offline.  But I will have to save that for a future blog post.

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Comments
  1. Georgeanne says:

    I really appreciate the additional online resources for translating French and German. Google Translate DOES get wacky occasionally!

  2. […] Working with music texts, Part 2: Translate the text […]

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