Two more of the map themes this week, plus the Koopaling Battle Theme. Speaking of which, did you know that Bowser's kids in SMW are specifically called "Koopalings" and not "Koopa Kids?" While looking up the title of their battle theme, I found an entire wiki page dedicated to Bowser's children, with more information than I could ever possibly desire about his spawn. This discovery was both ridiculous and awesome.
And speaking of RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME, man was their theme was crazy! Usually I have no trouble with melody lines, but transcribing the Koopaling Battle Theme was pretty difficult! The harmonies in the accompaniment weren't hard; the bass line is a basic pattern outlining the chords, and the harmonies (in the right hand of my transcription) are built in fourths. But the solo line moved FAST, and moved seamlessly between a LOT of different scales--for example, octatonic (mm.6-7), minor (m. 12) and chromatic (m.16). If the melody followed one scale throughout the whole piece, it would be easier for my ear to identify the notes. However, the composer will throw in a note that doesn't belong in the scale he was suggesting, at which point I go "D'OH, KOJI KONDO, YOU GOT ME AGAIN!"
And it's the rapidly changing scales that make the melody line so awesome! It's crazy and frenetic, and it definitely puts me on the edge of my seat whenever I do battle with a Koopaling. The style of the piece reminds me VERY strongly of Latin bebop, which is a very fast and virtuosic type of jazz, with the same type of rapid melody line. The link I provided is only one example, I'm sure there are a ton more on Youtube! Personally, I've always found that the music from the Mario franchise has a lot of jazz and Latin influence in it...I wonder if Koji Kondo is a bebop fan?
Enjoy the new arrangements for Vanilla Dome, Star Road and Koopaling Battle Theme! More on the way!
Video game music was what got me composing as a kid, and I learned the basics of composition from transcribing my favorite VGM pieces. These are my thoughts and discoveries about various game compositions as I transcribe and study them. Feel free to comment with your own thoughts/ideas as well!