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I'm attempting to translate a blurb about a wadaiko (和太鼓) composition, but am struggling with the way in which certain particles are used (or not used). I've highlighted specific questions below:

空穿ちて道ひらく

Striking the Sky to Reveal My Path

Is there a particular feeling I should be picking up on given the lack of object particles, or is this simply a stylistic tendency in titles?

大太鼓に向かう時はいつも、「演奏する」というより「挑む」という心境になる。

When I approach the odaiko, I've come to think of it as more of a challenge than a performance.

Is it appropriate here to make the comparison using "more of", as opposed to phrasing it like... "think of it as a challenge, rather than a performance," or are either interpretations acceptable when using 「より」?

何かを乗り越えようと扉を開こうとしているような気がする。

It feels as if I'm attempting to overcome something; to open a door.

I understand 「ようと」as attempting to do something, but am unsure of how it works in linking clauses; is it treated similarly to linking verbs using て-form?

果てしなく広がる宇宙空間のような打面(皮面)音色、緩急、間、スピード感などあらゆる技術駆使してひたすら打ち込むことで、未来への光(道筋)を探している。

The face of the drum expanding endlessly before me, I'm determined to strike utilizing every skill at my disposal - tone, tempo, space, sense of speed - searching for the light that will lead me into the future; my path.

I don't understand the function of the first を at all, and with or without it, I'm having trouble following the structure of the various clauses included here with any kind of confidence. Also, bonus question, what is the difference between 「緩急」(tempo), and スピード感 (sense of speed)? Is "sense of speed" supposed to mean something more like "internalizing the beat"?

Thank you in advance for your time and any insights you may have!

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空穿{そらうが}ちて道{みち}ひらく

Is there a particular feeling I should be picking up on given the lack of object particles, or is this simply a stylistic tendency in titles?

It is both. Think of this as a prose version of a Japanese newspaper headlne. Rule #1 in "headline grammar" is: "Use as few particles as possible."

For prose titles, literary expressions are often used as this one. 「空穿ちて道ひらく」 is the literary form of 「空穿って道ひらく」. The author could have used either one, but it seems his/her aesthetic preference happened to be the former.

大太鼓{おおだいこ}に向{む}かう時{とき}はいつも、「演奏{えんそう}する」というより「挑{いど}む」という心境{しんきょう}になる。

Is it appropriate here to make the comparison using "more of", as opposed to phrasing it like... "think of it as a challenge, rather than a performance," or are either interpretations acceptable when using 「より」?

I personally would see no difference, basically. Either should work. I myself might use "I feel as if I were ~~~ rather than just ~~~.", but don't trust me; I know very little English.

何{なに}かを乗{の}り越{こ}えようと扉{とびら}を開{ひら}こうとしているような気{き}がする。

It feels as if I'm attempting to overcome something; to open a door.

Here I must say your translation is off unless it was meant to be a free translation. At least that is not what the original literally means. The original says "I feel as if I were trying to open a door in order to overcome something."

I understand 「ようと」as attempting to do something, but am unsure of how it works in linking clauses; is it treated similarly to linking verbs using て-form?

Precisely. In meaning, 「~~ようと~~」=「~~ようとして~~」.

What I am not convinced (from your TL), however, is whether or not you understood that 「扉を開こうとしている」 is the main one of the two actions mentioned; It is not 「乗り越えよう」.

果{は}てしなく広{ひろ}がる宇宙空間{うちゅうくうかん}のような打面{だめん}(皮面{ひめん})音色{ねいろ}、緩急{かんきゅう}、間{ま}、スピード感{かん}などあらゆる技術{ぎじゅつ}駆使{くし}してひたすら打{う}ち込{こ}むことで、未来{みらい}への光{ひかり}(道筋{みちすじ})を探{さが}している。

I don't understand the function of the first を at all, and with or without it, I'm having trouble following the structure of the various clauses included here with any kind of confidence.

「打面(皮面)を」 is the direct object of the verb 「打ち込む」. Your fine understanding of the clauses is clearly reflected in your translation.

Also, bonus question, what is the difference between 「緩急」(tempo), and スピード感 (sense of speed)? Is "sense of speed" supposed to mean something more like "internalizing the beat"?

There is surely some overlap between the two, but 「緩急」 would tend to refer to the wide variety of tempos used while 「スピード感」 would tend to focus on the faster tempos.

  • Thank you so much for this thoughtful and detailed response! With regard to your comment about 「何かを乗り越えようと扉を開こうとしているような気がする。」, my use of a semicolon was an attempt to say something similar to your translation, but more subtly. Semicolons are often used in English to show a strong connection between two ideas - in this case, the connection between opening a door and accomplishment. – jeelbear Dec 14 '16 at 15:33
  • The expression "open a door" could also be used as a synonymous phrase meaning "to overcome/accomplish something," so it sounds odd to me to say, "to open a door to accomplish something," because this makes the idea of opening a door sound more literal, as opposed to my translation attempting to use it as figurative speech. – jeelbear Dec 14 '16 at 15:33
  • Thing is the word used here is 「扉」. not 「ドア」. 「扉」 sounds much more profound than 「ドア」 and that is why Japanese-speakers would not think of a "door" that they see/use many times everyday upon seeing the expression 「扉を開こうとしている」. – l'électeur Dec 14 '16 at 15:46
  • Ah, I see what you mean. I do not think there is a more profound word in English to represent 「扉」aside from using it in the context of figurative speech. Do you have any other suggestions as to how I could possibly rephrase the translation to sound more appropriate? – jeelbear Dec 14 '16 at 15:50
  • The best I could think of right now is to use "gate" if that makes any difference. – l'électeur Dec 15 '16 at 5:45
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Is there a particular feeling I should be picking up on given the lack of object particles, or is this simply a stylistic tendency in titles?

In general it's done for artistic purposes (i.e. usually not in practical sentences), and has an archaic tone. Written language generally used to use this style so it's like being purposefully archaic.

果てしなく広がる宇宙空間のような打面(皮面)を 音色、緩急、間、スピード感などあらゆる技術を駆使して ひたすら打ち込むことで、未来への光(道筋)を探している。

The first を simply indicates that something is being done to 打面. The second を indicates that all kinds of techniques are being used. Once can remove the second part like this:

果てしなく広がる宇宙空間のような打面(皮面)をひたすら打ち込むことで、未来への光(道筋)を探している。

And the second part explains how it was being struck. You can also see that the person should have chosen に instead of を, because 打面を打ち込む is not gramatical. The author probably got carried away. Had he/she used ひたすら叩く, then を would have been appropriate.

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