Saturday, November 5, 2011

Map Music: SMB3 – World 3

Slightly longer object than the World 2 map, World 3 (water theme) contains eight measures with a cut-time feel:


This one perplexes me a bit.  Each of the three pitched lines seems to focus in on a different pitch.  The bass line reduced works out as follows:


A simple pattern around a tonic C, emphasized by a chromatic descending line and typical 7-2-1 motion at the cadence.

The upper voice tells a different story, seeming to favor centering around A (quasi-schenkerian reduction):


Notice how the primary pitches shift rhythmic focus in the second half of the object.

Lastly, the middle tonal line uses chromatic grace notes to emphasize a line similar to the bass line, but around E as the tonal center:

image i

If you put these three reductions together, it makes:


Which makes NO SENSE!!!!!!

Ok… so if you take in a bit more information, ignore the top line and just look at the base line and the ornamented second line, you are left with something that you can hold onto harmonically:


So aside from measure 8, all we have is a slow decent upwards, and a return downwards… like the ebb and flow of the tide (wink wink).  Measure 8 establishes our tonic by using the leading tone triad to lead us back to C. 

So what about that melody line?  Over this interpretation, it is emphasizing the sixth over the bass in the first four measures, and then adds a seventh onto three of the chords in the last four measures (turning the chord in measure 6 into a dominant-seventh).

We could make a case for bi-modal, some quasi-Bartokean method, or bring in some other theoretical excuse for the melody line, but it works.  It does not feel dissonant, but it does make the whole object very interesting, and one of the reasons we typically do not get tired of hearing this map object when playing the game.

One last note about this object.  Remember, this is the map music for the Water Themed land.  Listen to the water music from the original Super Mario Bros.  Do you hear any similarities to this object? The chromatic lower-neighbor that characterizes this object’s melody is also very prevalent in the original SMB Water Theme.  Coincidence?  Doubtful.

You would almost think that the same guy wrote both of these objects… oh wait…

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