World Music Anyone?

I’ve posted several times about my shortwave listening hobby and some of the QSL verification cards I’ve received. One of the things I used to love about shortwave radio back then was listening to the music from other countries. Due to the nature of the shortwave signal (think AM radio and static) the quality of the broadcasts weren’t always great, especially from the small, low power, hard to hear stations but that was the challenge!

I love African music, and one of my favorite singers/guitar players is Oliver Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe. Here is a favorite song of mine by him called Neria.

I used to love to listen to the Tahitian music from Radio Tahiti at night before going to bed. Due to the time difference the broadcasts would be on at night here in the states (if you could pick up the signal). You could hear Middle Eastern music from Radio Cairo, African music from Africa Número 1 in Gabon, and a lot of Spanish music from Mexico, Central and South America. Radio Japan had a music program of JPop and Radio Korea had their KPop broadcast. This planted the seed for the love of all types of music, and over the years I have dabbled in a number of them.

Here is a video I found on YouTube of a street jam in Papeete/Tahiti that is reminiscent of the Tahitian music I used to hear over my shortwave radio. To a young 12 year old kid this was something from another world. It was great! Gotta love that Tahitian ukulele sound. If you didn’t know, they use monofilament fishing line for the strings.

When I learned to play the ukulele my brother and I met some other Hawaiian music lovers and formed a group called the “Houston Slackers”. The name was taken from the slack key guitar two of the members played. We played at some of the local Aloha Fests. It was a lot of fun. Here is beautiful Hawaiian song called “Ka Wailele O Nu’uanu”, one of my favorites.

Wakaru App

This is a very useful app with a variety of functions for people studying Japanese (Webpage viewer, Japanese book/text reader and Flash cards). Check the video below which also some nice relaxing music to go along with it!

The video was posted in July 2013 and I know the app has been updated since then, but the main features are the same.

A link to the app:

More Shortwave QSL Verification Cards

Here are a couple of other shortwave station QSL verification cards I’ve collected over the years.  I spent many a night staying up late to try to hear stations from countries around the world.  Reception was always better at night because of the ionosphere not being charged by the sun. It was a great way to learn geography and about other cultures.  The card below is from China Radio International which I received in 1998.  It’s interesting how things change over the years in a country.  When I first started listening to shortwave radio the station was called Radio Peking.  It then changed its name to Radio Bejing and now to China Radio International.  I remember listening to the broadcast on the same night the tanks went into Tiananmen square. At that moment the broadcast went off the air!




Here is a card from another one of my favorite stations. HCJB from Quito Ecuador.  There broadcasts came in fairly well. They were a listener friendly station with a DX Report to help you hear other shortwave stations as well as entertaining programming.  They would also give away other goodies such as pennants and calendars.




Here is a card from Voice of Indonesia. I think listening to shortwave radio also peaked my interest in learning languages.



I find the country of North Korea intriguing, and a while back watched an interesting documentary on YouTube about Kim Jong Il and life in North Korea. I think it started from listening to shortwave radio.  Radio Pyongyang was a good catch because the transmitter power was low, and the audio was always garbled with a lot of static. I was able to got a reply from them by sending a letter to someone in Europe to forward on because I couldn’t send a letter from the U.S.  They sent me a copy of “The Pyongyang Times” you can see below. Where the arrow is pointing it says “His birth also made it possible for the Korean people to adorn the 20th century with brilliant achievements and make a new breakthrough in the building of a great prosperous powerful nation in the new century.” Propaganda at its best!


Pyongyang Times

NHK NEWS 7 Broadcast (09/02/13)

One of my hobbies (if you want to call it that) is searching the internet for things. I find it a challenge and neat when you come across interesting stuff. Here is a news segment from NHK ニュース7 on 09/02/13. It’s interesting because it’s in Japanese with simultaneous English translation. The Japanese can be heard through the left audio channel and the English through the right.

42 Insane Japanese Language Learning Hacks!

I came across this web page with 42 tips for learning Japanese that others may find useful.

Everyone will probably have a little different take on things and that’s okay. I think people learn in different ways, so find what works best for you and keeps your interest. The main thing is to keep it fun and interesting. 😄

After reading through them here are some of my comments.

1) “Listen to 10,000 hours of Japanese over the next 18 months

After studying Japanese off and on for quite a while (more off then on), I know I was never consistent in studying. I studied consistently for about 4 years, but then stopped for a long time because life got in the way. I would start back again for a year or so then stop.

I really think this is a key technique! Just listen to as much Japanese as you can even if you don’t understand everything. Training your ear is the most important thing to do.

I’ve started attending a Japanese/English Bible study near where I live to kill two birds with one stone so to speak; study the Bible and Japanese.

2) “Get your daily news fix from a Japanese source

Totally agree with this. I have been trying to listen to and read Japanese news scripts and can see progress. Click the “Japanese News” category on the right hand side of this webpage for some posts on this.

3) “Don’t go to school

I started studying Japanese by taking lessons at the local Japan America Society. I personally think it helps when you are starting off learning a language. After you gain some proficiency you can study on your own, but you have to be motivated. I’ve been studying on my own for a while and like it because I’ve reached an Intermediate level and can study what and how I want.

4) “Avoid Kanji for the initial months

I think this is probably good as you’re learning the hiragana and katakana as well as a bunch of grammar

5) “Speak Every day

This is probably a good thing to do, and I don’t really do it. I’m more interested in reading and listening so have spent most of my time on that so my speaking ability is not that good. If you don’t have someone to speak with, I think you can get materials for conversation and repeat back what is being said.

6) “You must enjoy the learning process

I think this goes without saying!

14) “There’s a lot more to learning songs than just words

カラオケ大好きです! I love karaoke, and when I would get to go to Japan would always go to the karaoke box. I find understanding Japanese songs difficult because of the phrasing of the words to fit the melody, but another fun tool to use for learning. I plan to do a post on karaoke so stay tuned.

21) “Don’t use SRS to learn Kanji!”!”

Totally agree with this! Read as much as you can and learn kanji as part of words and sentences, not individually. You will remember them better that way. As the article says, “You’ll be surprised at how much just seems to stick somehow like osmosis.”

22) “Use full sentences in flashcards

Definitely agree.

23) “Get the Japanese App for iPhone

Definitely agree. Also check out Midori, JFlash and Wakaru among others. Check the “Language Learning” posts on this site

29) “From the start (grammar)

Grammar is definitely critical for reading. Don’t ignore it.

34) “Install Rikaichan

Definitely agree. Search a video on this site for using the Rikaichan Firefox plugin

36) “Invest in some quality learning material”

Definitely agree. I would recommend the “Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar” and the “Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar“. I bought these a number of years ago and refer to them when doing the Bible Japanese videos. Also investing in some good apps is also indispensable.

That’s the points from the list of 42 I wanted to hit. Let’s hear some of your top ones.