Flute Boy’s Meadow – Composer Kōji Kondō

JordanNovember 5th, 2012 by Jordan

Welcome my fellow Zelda Dungeoners to another week, another Monday, and of course another edition of Flute Boy’s Meadow!

Now, regularly this music feature focuses on fan artists and covers of Zelda music, but today I decided to instead bring the spotlight to the guy behind it all: Kōji Kondō. Honestly, of all the video game composers out there, it can be said with 100% certainty that no man’s music is as well known as his. Kondō has composed the music for most of the main Zelda games as well as much of the Super Mario Bros. series. His music is iconic, recognized the world over, and it is safe to say that without him the Zelda series simply would not be the same.

I know the usual focus of Flute Boy’s Meadow is to introduce our readers to fan artists they may or may not know, giving them new looks at favorite songs. This week, I am aiming more for a dedication; a gallery in honor of one of the greatest video game composers of all time. After all, most of our favorite fan artists owe their inspiration to his work.

Please bear with me — this is going to be a heck of a ride!

Back in the early 1980s, Nintendo was just getting into the swing of things with the video game industry. With their plans to capitalize on the 1983 video game crash, they began sending recruitment drives to various colleges in Japan looking for people dedicated to composition and sound programming. In 1984, college senior Kōji Kondō applied and was the first person hired by Nintendo for composition.

The rest, as they say, is history. After working on some projects that helped spur Nintendo along, Kondō was given the chance to compose the soundtrack for coworker Shigeru Miyamoto’s new big game: Super Mario Bros. You know the result; the iconic music has become the most well-known in gaming, especially the famous song that serenaded players through their first minutes of the game and has gone on to become a classic.

It did not end there, of course. Within a year, Kōji and Shigeru were at it again to bring the video gaming world its biggest title yet: The Legend of Zelda. By now, Kondō was quickly showing an incredible talent for creating themes that could be heard over and over again without boring the player. From the happy, skipping Mario theme to the daring march of Zelda, his music was destined to become classics for years to come.

As Zelda fans, we of course know Kondō best for his work in the series. Every main console Zelda has had a powerful musical influence from Kōji’s works. Whether he composed the entire game himself (The Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past, and Ocarina of Time were all scored by Kondō alone) or worked with a partner, he still wowed the world time and time again with his works. He especially showed his skill for creating powerful moods with his works; while he had already created rousing adventure themes time and time again, he also built soft and gorgeous pieces that calmed and soothed. Games with his music were more than games, they were even greater experiences.

Last year, in honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Zelda series and Kondō’s work, the Symphony of the Goddess was formed. A full symphony orchestra dedicated to Zelda music, the Symphony has toured all over North America since and has sold out almost every concert. It is easily the most highly demanded musical experience of the past year… and almost all of the music is by Kōji Kondō.

Now, there is something I have often wondered: who inspired the composer whose music shaped my childhood (no joke)? In a Nintendo Power interview some years back, Kondo had this to say about his influences:

When I was in junior high and high school, I really pushed my skills in a cover band that played jazz and rock music—mainly the songs of Deep Purple, as well as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, which some people back then really considered some of the most progressive sounds in rock. Even though my bandmates grew out their hair really long in tribute, I didn’t go that far to copy my favorite bands!

Wow. I did not see that coming. Kōji Kondō, the Kōji Kondō, is a Deep Purple fan. Mind. Blown.

Zelda truly would not be the same without Kōji. His music has defined the series in ways nothing else could. He is the reason fans learn the Ocarina, why guitarists strive to play the rapid strings of Gerudo Valley, why many a gamer simply sits on his (or her) couch with eyes closed and listens to the sounds his game is delivering. An inspiration for thousands of musicians the world over. . . that’s Kōji Kondō.

So maybe I went a little overboard today with the videos and fanboyism, but I really wanted to just focus on the Zelda series’ original music a bit and I simply could not do so without highlighting Kōji Kondō’s work and achievements. I hope this post has been an enjoyable read for you, and be sure to leave your comments about some of your favorite Zelda music in the comments!

This concludes this week’s Flute Boy’s Meadow. Check in next week for a return to fan covers, and again don’t forget to let us know your favorite Kondō compositions in the comments! See you next week!

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  • linkasourous

    Omigosh I can’t tell how many Zelda songs have just blown my mind. My favorites are probably going to be Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and Link to the Past end Credits, and of course the entire soundtrack from Ocarina of TIme

  • Rob

    Who doesn’t love Zelda (and mario) Music?

    • baileygirl99

      Meh…Mario doesn’t have the best music in the world, but I must admit that it’s pretty cool… :-s

    • Midnafan

      no like mario. i can hum the first 5 seconds and then i don’t care ( and also can’t get fruther than that on a level :/)

    • FLUDD

      COD fanboys

  • Din’s Fan

    I don’t think you went overboard with this one! Its nice to see a condensed history of Koji Kondo’s work! Nice article!

  • zombie_eat_flesh

    I did not know that Kondo liked Deep Purple…

    • http://www.facebook.com/jordan.dipalma Jordan DiPalma

      I know, right? That took me completely off guard. My girlfriend’s dad is a huge Deep Purple fan, so I was thrilled to have something like this to show him.

      • Midnafan

        what’s Deep Purple? :/

        • FLUDD

          The rock band?

          • Cucco Link

            Yes. It’s weird isn’t it? I mean, it’s Koji Kondo…

        • Jordan on a school computer

          You’re fired. Get out.

          (They’re a classic rock band. They wrote Smoke On the Water, which you should at least know the overplayed guitar riff from. All around one of the greatest rock bands ever… and the freaking Black eyed Peas got into the RnR Hall of Fame before them. What is the world coming to?)

          • Midnafan

            I don’t know crap about music, sorry. I listen to the radio and whatnot, but, frankly, i don’t care much for individual bands, just songs. :/

          • http://www.facebook.com/jordan.dipalma Jordan DiPalma

            It’s cool, I was just harassing you.Like I said, my girlfriend’s dad is huge on DP so I can’t afford to not know about them :D

  • baileygirl99

    Remembering the end of TP when Midna leaves and breaks the mirror, (and Links heart because he will miss her), makes me cry a little bit :’-S

    • Midnafan

      that part is sad but not all that sad, but it’s the music that tugs at my heart :'( what’s really sad is SS’s ending. screw Fi i cried for Impa! (no spoilers cause i know not everybody has seen that :P)

  • pickleslkw

    Second to last video= My mind is frickin blown… I really wish I could play in an orchestra as talented as that one (sadly my orchestra sucks). My mouth was literally on hinges when I watched the violins playing and the rest of the group. So epic!!!

  • The Hylian Monolith

    O Koji Kondo, let you hear my prayers and answer the call of the music in my heart with a melody invoking inspiration and happiness for years to come…

    > A v > A v

    …Thank you Koji Kondo…May the goddesses watch over you, and may the music that you create live on for centuries.
    Not that he needed me to state what was going to happen anyway.

  • Hobusu

    Nicely done! This is a very good tribute, yet it isn’t too long. It’s been a while since I watched the second-to-last video, so that was nice.

    One thing that really irks me though — You put the NES version of the main theme of Zelda. However, he originally composed the main theme with the Famicom Disc System’s capabilities in mind, and it shows if you listen to that version. Also, in addition to having better sound quality, the FDS version of the theme is the version that the first half of the orchestrated version is based on. A good URL for that is http://youtu . be/bZkQ8XoaNBw (remove the spaces)

    Other than that, this was fantastic! Feel free to do tributes as much as you want! (^_^)

    • Ninty

      Woa, didn’t know that. I wish they released the japanese version now on the Virtual Console. It’s definitely way better. I’m guessing we got the lesser version of the console then?

    • Jordan at school

      Thanks! I’ll be sure to switch out the songs when I get back to my computer.

  • Midnafan

    I love game music because just listening to brings back great memories of moments from games. I may not cry at the saddest moment of a game, but i will when i hear its music again. TP’s music does that to me every time, and SS is simply beautiful. This may sound stupid, but music is also the reason i love Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky (and also an incredible story for a pokemon game). it may not be as significant as Zelda, but the music is surprsingly full of emotion and its tone progresses with the tone of the game. i cry listening to the memories theme, and the way the credits’ music starts, i literally feel like i should give the game an applause. i think a every great game should be like that, and its also a great reason to stick around for the credits (you may just discover the cake isn’t a lie after all :P)

    • Cucco Link

      That’s how I felt when I first beat Ocarina of Time. Oh, and I love that part about the cake. Believe it or not Portal is my second favorite series of all time, Zelda being first.

  • Cucco Link

    I started crying when I heard Zelda’s lullaby. So many beautiful, beautiful memories of when I first walked into that courtyard with princess Zelda standing there.

  • BlackRaven6695

    Koji Kondo is the John Williams of videogaming.

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