Wired News: Behind the Mario Maestro's Music by Rattle at 4:02 am EDT, Mar 15, 2007
If you've ever been to a concert, you've seen something like it. A lone spotlight hits the baby grand as the star sits for a final solo; in the audience, a sea of tiny lights flicker. But those aren't lighters, and this isn't a rock star. His name is Koji Kondo, and he's playing his own composition, one of the most famous tunes in the world -- the theme song to the video game Super Mario Bros.
And those lights in the audience? They're Nintendo DS game systems, opened up with their backlit screens pointed towards the stage.
"I wanted to create something that had never been heard before," he says, "something not like game music at all." Some of the tunes came easy, like the lilting, soothing music that trills when Mario is swimming underwater, or the staccato bass line that accompanies his travels underground.
But that signature theme, the first one in the game, took the longest to compose. Kondo would write one version, and then he and the team would put it into the game. If it didn't accentuate the action perfectly, didn't time up right with Mario's running and jumping, didn't harmonize with the different sound effects, he'd scrap it and start over.