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Thematic Unity Across a Video Game Series.

Keywords: video game , The legend of Zelda , Koji Kondo

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Abstract:

Koji Kondo’s music is among the most recognized video game music ever written. As the composer for both Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo, 1984) and The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo, 1986), he has received international fame and recognition for his game compositions. With The Legend of Zelda series, Kondo has managed to create new music for each iteration of the series while maintaining a sense of unity across the series as a whole. Through the use of motivic and prolongational analysis, this article demonstrates how Kondo created this unity across the entire Zelda franchise, while making each game’s score unique by examining one musical element, the overworld theme, from each of the main entries in the Zelda series. A Schenkerian-like analysis is used to identify structural and motivic relationships between the various themes. This essay concludes with an examination of semiotic implications of this analysis and its impact on other aspects of the Zelda series and game music analysis as a whole. Using concepts from Barthes Elements of Semiology, I discuss the implication of the musical analysis to show how this approach can provide the basis for an in-depth look at musical signs in video games. In this discussion of thematic unity, I’m exploring both musical theme and a semiological theme.

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