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Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack (33 1/3) Paperback – May 21, 2015
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“Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack gave me a greater appreciation of something that appears to be so simple on the surface.” ―Pure Geekery
“Andrew Schartmann's extensive, thoughtful treatise on Japanese composer Koji Kondo and his work on the soundtrack to the original Super Mario Bros game is probably the most unusual entry in the 33 1/3 music chapbook series … As Schartmann demonstrates, Kondo's work on this seminal game – and the legacy of industry influence that followed – is much more than the primitive bleeps and bloops we all remember …” ―Critics at Large
“Andrew Schartmann does both the spirit of the series and video game history proud with his investigation into the iconic music from Koji Kondo. Matching a fanboy's sensibilities with serious scholarship, Schartmann provides the reader with an engaging discussion of Kondo's themes and ideas, both in terms of stylistic flair and compositional acumen … Of equal importance are his excellent research skills, as he collects worthwhile source material and pairs them [with] compelling quotes from Kondo and other luminaries at Nintendo to make his case for this soundtrack's inclusion in the 33-1/3 series. The result is a superb blend of professional musicology and video game nerdery.” ―Dryvetyme.tumblr.com
“Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack comes in at 120 pages, not counting the notes and preface, which appears well on par with other books in the 33 ? series. It's a book that takes itself seriously, as it should, and soundly proves the case that video game composition is worthy of discussion among keepers of music as a craft. If you have an appreciation for game music, this is worth buying. Even if you don't get a few parts, they're only likely to make you admire the work and design that go into composing all the more.” ―Tim Latshaw, NintendoLife
“The most compelling aspects of Schartmann's book involve the widening circumference of Kondo's imagination, the possibilities he saw in this new world of electronic composition. The move to home consoles had freed video gaming from the initial, "hailing" approach to sound...It's Schartmann's sense of conviction, the hyperbole that occasionally frames his dive into composition and structure, that gives the book its charm.” ―Hua Shu, The New Yorker
“There's something ballsy about including a videogame soundtrack in the 33 1/3 series since it's not a traditional album per se, though Andrew Schartmann makes a compelling case for Koji Kondo's score for Super Mario Bros.” ―Ruby Hornet, Hubert Vigilla
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Top Customer Reviews
Schartmann argues that nostalgia alone doesn't explain its appeal. The music is charming and full of character and atmosphere. It was also innovative. He goes into the background of Super Mario Bros. and what made it unusual for its time, coming after the arcade revolution, when music mostly consisted of flashy sound effects. He also examines the music's voice leading, rhythms, harmonic structure, form, as well as its imaginative sound effects.
The score excerpts are well transcribed, better than anything you'll find on the web. Separate voices are designated as square-wave, triangle-wave, etc., and are stay within their staves, instead of the quick and dirty piano reductions you usually see. The time signatures and tempos are consistent with standard notation (e.g., the simple cut-time signature for the Overworld theme, instead of the ridiculous "Quarter Note = 200" designation you may see on the web). The book doesn't include a full score, which isn't in its purview and would probably be a copyright violation.
The book also as a thoughtful interview with an NES composer who points out the different styles of composition in the West vs. Japan, which often involved pushing the limited sonic capabilities of the NES via clever programming (the West) vs. catchy tunes and more traditional voicing (Japan).Read more ›
It goes a little bit more into music theory/composition elements than most books, not too deep. Having taken a harmony 101 class would be helpful but i'm pretty sure you'd be fine without it. I could see a non-musician getting a bit lost when he gets into the details and the written sheet music examples though. Having said that, the fact there is only 3 minutes or so of unique music to discuss does allow the author to be thorough and the result makes an engaging and interesting read. I think during the section on sound effects he harps a bit too much on the obvious "notes going up = good, notes going down = bad" thing, but the rest is great.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
While I'm not personally familiar with the 33 1/3 book series from Bloomsbury Academic, it's apparently well regarded for its analyses of famous music. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Bill Loguidice
This was a somewhat interesting read, but way too long and padded. You could have cut the book down to 1/4th of its size and it would've made for a very interesting article. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Rich L.