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Analyzing NES Music

Harmony, Form, and the Art of Technological Constraint

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Faced with severe technological constraints on system memory, composers of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) sought ways to disguise repetition in music that repeats extensively. Their efforts gave rise to a set of compositional techniques for creating the illusion of variety.

This book distills these techniques into a theory of harmony and form for the analysis of NES music. It then uses this theory to analyze five landmark scores of the NES era: Super Mario Bros., Dragon Warrior, Metroid, Mega Man 2, and Silver Surfer. Both theory and analysis are scaffolded by a detailed description of the NES hardware and its attendant constraints, highlighting the ever-evolving dialogue between technology, commercial demand, and artistic sensibility that characterizes video game music of the 1980s and 1990s.


Related Topics: Music

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