Monday, September 5, 2011

Super Mario Bros. 2 Analysis – Ending (Part 2)

Six months later and we finally get the epic conclusion of this analytical mini-series.

Well, I’m not sure how epic a conclusion it is, but we will make the best of it!

SMB2 Ending

This is a pretty straight forward excerpt.  There is a nice passing motion between the V and IV chord on the third line represented by a bVII, though functioning only as a passing motion.  Also, there is a nice sequence descending from V to ii early on in the excerpt.

What I want to draw your attention to here is the last eight measures.  Why do you ask?  Well the progression alternating from bVI to I ending in a secondary dominant half cadence is not new.  It may not sound familiar, but with a little bit of chord analysis, you will soon see:


This is the third formal section of the original Super Mario Bros. theme.  The exact same chord progression in the exact same key, with the same harmonic rhythm.

Intentional?  Maybe.  Pretty Cool? Absolutely.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Review: Reale’s “Chaos in the Cosmos”

The first article I want to take a look at was recently published in a new journal based out of Germany.  This music journal ACT focuses on the relationship between music and performance.  Steven B. Reale published an article entitled “Chaos in the Cosmos: The Play of Contradictions in the Music of Katamari Damacy.”

This article was very interesting to me.  First off, the game examined is not one I would consider first for an analysis, mainly because the qwerty, cutesy nature of the games initial appearance.  However, fans of the game will be very familiar with all the contradictions in the game, from the King’s attitude towards his son and his subjects vs. the generally happiness that seems to pervade every angle of the game.

The article begins with an overview of the game’s plot and examination of some of the contradictions that occur in the story and dialogue of the game.  He also uses this point to examine the kawaii culture of the Japanese and how that plays into the game design.

The rest of the article focuses on examining the various music elements of the game.  He traces the use of a particular tune throughout many of the different music objects in the game, and also examines the reinterpretation of certain tunes.  He comments on the juxtaposition of acoustic and digital music throughout and gives us a great overview of the music throughout this game through an analytical lens.

The resulting conclusion of the analysis looks to paint a picture of the games contradictions as it is embodied in the music, from the terrible vs. kawaii, digital vs. acoustic, and overall right vs. wrong.  Steven’s article takes us much deeper into a game that on the surface does not seem to offer as much as is actually there.