For the first time in years, Koji Kondo has given a presentation on the most important aspects of creating video game music.
Koji Kondo, the creator of the most famous video game songs in the world, came out of his shell yesterday to give an hour-long lecture on the role of music in the video gaming experience
Kondo is to video game music as Miyamoto is to video games: not only have the two men worked together since the earliest days of the Mario series, but they’ve both had significant impacts on their genres. Kondo could be considered the Paul to Miyamoto’s John – without one, the other would be nothing. Mario, Zelda, and Star Fox 64 are just as well known for their creative game designs as they are for their cleverly-crafted midi tracks. Unfortunately, though, we don’t really hear nearly as much from Kondo as we do from the more flamboyant Miyamoto. Thus, his recent lecture was not just insightful but revolutionary as well.
In his 60-minute speech, Kondo details the three most important aspects of creating video game music – Rhythm, Balance, and Interactivity. Without a proper rhythm that fits with the characters’ motions on-screen, the game will seem lackluster. Without balance, individual songs aren’t able to flow into each other and the game seems disjointed. If not for interactivity, then game music wouldn’t properly reflect what a player was doing in the game. In order for a game’s music to fit with the work as a whole, it must possess all three of these characteristics that he says are very difficult to achieve with an orchestrated soundtrack.
1up has a great article on his lecture, and I suggest that you all check it out. In it, you’ll find more details about the three points outlined above and you’ll also learn why Kondo made the compositional decisions he did for such games as The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.