Library of Congress Inducts Super Mario Bros. Theme into National Recording Registry: “Video Game Soundtrack Joins Recording Registry for First Time”

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Image: Nintendo

The Super Mario Bros. theme, one of the most iconic video game themes of all time, has been inducted into the National Recording Registry, the Library of Congress has announced. The National Recording Registry is a list of sound recordings that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, and/or inform or reflect life, in the United States,” and while the list has already grown to be an extensive one since its inception in 2002, the Super Mario Bros. theme is the first piece of game music added to it. Koji Kondo, who turns 62 this August, composed the Super Mario Bros. theme after being hired by Nintendo in 1984, later going on to create other great soundtracks that include Star Fox and Yoshi’s Island.

“The amount of data that we could use for music and sound effects was extremely small, so I really had to be very innovative and make full use of the musical and programming ingenuity that we had at the time,” Kondo said in a recent interview. “I used all sorts of genres that matched what was happening on screen. We had jingles to encourage players to try again after getting a ‘game over,’ fanfares to congratulate them for reaching goals, and pieces that sped up when the time remaining grew short.”

“Having this music preserved alongside so many other classic songs is such a great honor,” he added. “It’s actually a little bit difficult to believe.”

From a Library of Congress post:

Few musicians have had their work become so internationally recognized for decades yet remain so relatively unknown as Koji Kondo, the man who composed the music for the Super Mario Bros. video games in the 1980s. Still today, Kondo is credited for original Nintendo music in the new “Super Mario Bros. Movie” out this month.

Kondo, born and raised in Japan, was a college senior in Osaka, interested in the piano and sound design, when he saw a recruiting flyer from Nintendo on a university bulletin board. He answered the ad, and the rest is video game history. His main, or “Ground Theme,” for the 1985 game is a jaunty, Latin-influenced melody that’s instantly recognizable around the world today.

Now 61 and still working for Nintendo, he’s seen his “Mario” music used in films and played by orchestras. He’s designed the world of sound for dozens of other video games. He did, however, have an inkling that they were onto something at the beginning. “I also had a feeling that this game might be something that could turn into a series and continue for a long time,” he said.

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Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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