Monday, April 4, 2011

Chromatic Harmonies in Pac-Man

EDIT: Due to the original YouTube video being removed that this post was originally based off of, this post may be a bit confusing. I will attempt to get the music object notated and added to this post to make it easier to follow.

Yes, I said it: Pac-Man!  Not a game one would study much for music, since there is so little to be found in the game, but if you stop to look, you never know what you may find.  Below you find the introduction music from Pac-Man (at 0:20), which I am calling the “Game Start” object.

What I found was the interesting chords heard in the “Game Start” object.

Looking at the whole object, Roman numerals would make it I-bII-I-V7-I in B Major

Now there is a bit of logic to this if we dig deep enough (or I could just be making it all up).

In this case, the bII functions a bit like a dominant.  We can hear the E pulling down to the D# (E being the only diatonic pitch in this bII chord).  This allows us to establish B as our tonic pitch before hearing the implied V7 chord in measure 2.

On beat three of measure 2, we get ever so briefly an E over an F#, implying a V7, which re-enforces this idea that E is serving a tonally defining feature until the A# is heard at the very end of this object in the ascending passing motion between V7 and I.

So little music, but so much to uncover.  While I am primarily interested in analysis, a music historian might be interested in tracking the influence of such tonal devices through music of the 8-bit era.


Ben W said...

The video's gone.

flutistjason said...

Thanks! I replaced the video with something else, though this video does not have the notated music like the last one did. I'll try and fix in the future.