Nintendo and Chamber Music

I played tons of video games as a kid; one of my favorite themes was from the Nintendo game “Metroid”. Here’s the theme if you don’t know it. It gets good at 30 seconds if you want to skip.

8-bit Nintendo video game music charms me still. The Nintendo could have five channels of sound, one capable of a sampled sound (thanks, Wikipedia article “Video Game Music”). This restriction lends a chamber music feel to the music that I really missed once game technology improved.

This may be a blasphemous to some, but here’s a Bach fugue with four voices for comparison. I would like to hear the Nintendo perform some Bach fugues one day.

What delights me about the game music is also presenet in chamber music. Chamber music is named as such because it could be performed in small palace chambers. Composers for the game had to cope with a technological limit while composers for the palace had to deal with a spatial limit – but for each the limit was the same. Only so many voices could be happening at the same time. I like how composers for each platform had to deal with the same limit for such different but parallel reasons.

I’m not the first to notice: here’s a video of a string quartet performing a medley of themes from The Legend of Zelda.

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2 Responses to Nintendo and Chamber Music

  1. Erin says:

    Hey Dibs!

    This may be the 8-bit Bach you’re looking for:

    In that vein, there’s always Wendy Carlos’s Switched-On Bach:

    Also, I thought you might be interested in this recent blog post by David Byrne about similar ideas – how music has been particularly influenced by the spaces/venues it is written for.

  2. Dibson says:

    Thanks for all these links! The Byrne piece is great, and I like the Toccata and Fugue. I’ve definitely seen Switched-On Bach (maybe I even bought the record), but I’ve not listened yet. I’ll do it today.

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