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Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros Soundtrack

Andrew Schartmann

ISBN: 978-1-62892-853-2


Number of pages: xvi+146
Chapters: 15
© 2015 Andrew Schartmann
Reviewer: Keith Bramich
Review of Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros Soundtrack published on 21 August 2016



1-1 An Unlikely Hero is Born
1-2 Mario Grows Up
1-3 Kondo's Compositional Philosophy
1-4 Kondo's Instruments

2-1 Overworlds and Underworlds
2-2 The 'Underwater' Waltz
2-3 Bowser's 'Castle' Theme and Other Endings
2-4 Sound Effects


Also available in the series

Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros (1985) score redefined video game music. With under three minutes of original tunes, Kondo brought game sound to the very core of our gaming experience. Andrew Schartmann takes us back to the 1980s to explore early gaming history (eg the video game crash of 1983, Nintendo's marketing tactics) in order to better understand the significance of Kondo's music, and what it helped to accomplish. He then delves into the music itself, searching for reasons why our hearts still dance to the 'primitive' 8-bit tunes of a bygone era.

What musical features are responsible for Kondo's distinct 'Mario sound'? How does each level's theme reflect the new environment in which Mario finds himself? And in what ways do the sound effects resonate with our physical experience of the world? These and other questions are explored through the lens of Kondo's compositional philosophy - one that would influence an entire generation of video game composers. As Kondo himself has said: '... we [at Nintendo] were trying to do something that had never been done before.' Schartmann shows his readers how Kondo and his team not just succeeded, but heralded in a new era of video games.

Andrew Schartmann holds degrees in music from Yale and McGill University. He is the author of 'Maestro Mario', he wrote the 'Andrew Schartmann's Musical Tidbits' series for Music & Vision Magazine, and is the assistant editor of DSCH Journal.

33 1/3 is a series of short books about popular music, focusing on individual albums by a variety of artists. The series published its 100th book in 2014 and has been widely acclaimed and loved by fans, musicians and scholars alike. Further info:


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