Hey guys, I’m not sure if any of those still lurking will know who I am. I know I’ve been MIA for quite a few years, decided to post something. I’ve reenrolled in school (for classical vocal performance) and am currently chasing 3 kids around so my time is very little. What’s not spent wrangling kids I spend analyzing music.
My last Music History class we were told to list who we felt were some of the most influential composers of this century. I went a bit outside the usual genres and listed Koji Kondo. We were asked to list a specific work and then note why we felt it was significant. I listed Ocarina of Time (of course, if you read any of my previous posts you know my love for this game). This is what I wrote . . .
Koji Kondo is a Japanese composer employed by Nintendo best known for composing the soundtrack to games in The Legend of Zelda and Mario series. His music is recognizable to generations by simply a few notes being played. While the music isn’t as overwhelming while playing the games when it’s heard fully orchestrated it’s breathtaking
Ocarina of TIme contains such pieces as “Bolero of Fire”, “Zelda’s lullabye”, and “Epona’s Song”. There’s a wide variety of different sounds within the soundtrack. There is a vast different from the chanted Temple of Time theme and the quick paced, wind instrument centered Kokori Forest.
I believe Koji Kondo is significant because he has brought together generations with his music. There is a traveling concert called Video Games Live which has a full orchestra and vocalists that travel from city to city performing music from video games. I attended one in New Orleans two years ago and it was amazing the age ranges within the center. There was a rush of excitement and applause when the opening of Ocarina of Time began being played. This is an audience of ages ranging from seven to late forties. An entire generation of people who might never have listened to a live orchestra playing Bach will come to listen to Koji Kondo’s music. I feel like he has helped to expand classical music into audiences and venues that otherwise would not have been interested.
I can elaborate further on my personal views of Koji Kondo and video game music in general. The fact is very little credit is given to those that compose these sweeping pieces because they are applied to what is considered a childish pastime. You won’t see them getting the same recognition as the composers of Braveheart or Titanic even though Kondo was tasked with creating pieces that could be broken down into just a few notes that could be played on the arrow keypad. Notes so recognizable that the player knows instinctively when they’ve hit the wrong arrow on the D pad. To create a tune that people find themselves whistling off hand isn’t easy, you put yourself in the likes of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy or Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, quite a few others that if you were to hear them you’d immediately know who wrote them and where they are from. Granted, if you heard Bolero of Fire you wouldn’t think “Kondo!”, you’d think “Hey, Zelda! Nintendo!” which I think does Kondo a great disservice. I imagine it gives him great pleasure to know he’s reaching a much wider audience than most classical composers these days. He’s not restricted to concert halls or diva singing personalities, it’s just coming through on the TV.