Koji Kondo (近藤 浩治 Kondō Kōji, born August 13, 1961) is a Japanese music composer, pianist, and sound director who works for the video game development company Nintendo. He is best known for his involvement in numerous titles in the Mario and The Legend of Zelda series of video games, among other games produced by the company. Kondo was originally hired by Nintendo in 1984, becoming the first person hired by the company to specialize in musical composition for games. Shortly after, Kondo was assigned as the sound designer on the 1985 game Super Mario Bros. His sound design for the game, more specifically the musical theme for the overworld, are often cited as the most memorable in video games.
Kondo in 2015
|Native name||近藤 浩治|
August 13, 1961 |
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Kondo was born in Nagoya, Japan, on August 13, 1961. He began taking lessons in the electronic organ from the age of five. He improved his skills in the instrument in a cover band that played jazz and rock music. Kondo studied at the Art Planning Department of Osaka University of Arts, but was never classically trained or particularly dedicated to music. However, he gained some experience in composing and arranging pieces, using both the piano and a computer to assist him. During his senior year, Nintendo sent a recruitment message to his university stating that they were interested in hiring people dedicated to composition and sound programming. An LCD and arcade gamer, Kondo successfully applied for the job in 1984 without requiring any demo tapes.
Kondo was the third person hired by Nintendo to create music and sound effects for their games, joining Hirokazu Tanaka and Yukio Kaneoka. However, he was the first at Nintendo to actually specialize in musical composition. The first game he worked on was the arcade game Punch-Out!!, although it was before he had officially joined Nintendo. Despite creating mostly jingles and sound effects, he was able to overcome the challenges of early arcade sound hardware. As the Famicom had become highly popular in Japan, Kondo was assigned to compose music for the console's subsequent games at Nintendo's new development team, Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development (EAD). Kondo also wrote an instruction manual on how to program Japanese popular music into the Famicom using the peripheral Family BASIC. To conclude his first year at Nintendo, he created the music to Devil World alongside Akito Nakatsuka. In 1985, Nintendo started marketing the Famicom abroad under the name the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to capitalize on the 1983 video game crash that devastated Atari, Inc. He composed the music for the hit releases Super Mario Bros. (1985) and The Legend of Zelda (1986), which helped the system to sell 60 million copies in total and established some of the most well-known melodies in the video game industry.
Super Mario Bros., for many years the best-selling video game of all time for a single platform, was Kondo's first major score. The game's melodies were created with the intention that short segments of music could be endlessly repeated during the same gameplay without causing boredom. Kondo's soundtrack to Super Mario Bros. gained worldwide recognition, and is to this day the most well-known video game score. The main theme is iconic in popular culture and has been featured in over 50 concerts, been a best-selling ringtone, and been remixed or sampled by various musicians. Kondo's work on The Legend of Zelda scores has also become highly recognized. He produced four main pieces of background music for the first installment of the series; the overworld theme has become comparable in popularity with the Super Mario Bros. main theme. After the success of The Legend of Zelda, he provided the score for two Japanese-exclusive titles, The Mysterious Murasame Castle (1986) and Shin Onigashima (1987). He also created the soundtrack to Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic (1987), which was later rebranded outside Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2 in 1988.
Kondo returned to the Super Mario series to produce the scores to Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988) and the SNES launch title Super Mario World (1990). Koichi Sugiyama directed a jazz arrangement album of Super Mario World's music and oversaw its performance at the first Orchestral Game Music Concert in 1991. After finishing the soundtrack to Super Mario World, Kondo was in charge of the sound programming for Pilotwings (1990), while also composing the "Helicopter Theme" for it, and created the sound effects for Star Fox (1993). In 1995, he composed for the sequel to Super Mario World, Yoshi's Island. Until the early 2000s, Kondo would usually write all compositions by himself on a project, with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's being the last one Kondo worked on alone. Since then, he has been collaborating with other staff members at Nintendo, advising and supervising music created by others, as well as providing additional compositions for games, including Super Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Super Mario 3D World. In 2015, he served as the sound director and lead composer of Super Mario Maker.
Kondo attended the world premiere of Play! A Video Game Symphony at the Rosemont Theater in Rosemont, Illinois in May 2006, where his music from the Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda series was performed by a full symphony orchestra. He also attended and performed in a series of three concerts celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda series in late 2011. He performed piano with the American rock band Imagine Dragons live at The Game Awards 2014 in December 2014.
Musical style and influencesEdit
The "Super Mario Bros. theme" was featured in Billboard Magazine's Hot Ringtones for 112 consecutive weeks. Kondo cites rock bands Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake & Palmer as major musical influences. He has also cited the works of the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff as an influence, particularly his four piano concertos.
Awards and honorsEdit
|2011||Super Mario Galaxy 2||British Academy Games Awards (Best Original Music)||Nominated|
|2014||Super Mario 3D World||British Academy Games Awards (Best Original Music)||Nominated|
|Video Game Music Online (Best Soundtrack – Retro / Remixed)||Nominated|
- "THE LEGEND OF ZELDA -OCARINA OF TIME- / Re-Arranged Album p.3". VGMdb. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
- Chris Greening. "Koji Kondo Profile". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "Mario and Zelda composer Koji Kondo shares all at GDC '07". Music4Games. January 19, 2007. Archived from the original on November 10, 2007. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
- Otero, Jose. "A Music Trivia Tour with Nintendo's Koji Kondo". IGN. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
- "Super Mario Bros. Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
- "The Legend of Zelda Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
- Pearce, James Quintana (January 4, 2007). "Top Selling Ringtones In US For 2006". mocoNews. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
- McLaughlin, Rus (November 8, 2007). "IGN Presents The History of Super Mario Bros". IGN. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
- "Super Mario Bros. 2 Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
- Kohler, Chris (March 15, 2007). "Behind the Mario Maestro's Music". Wired. Condé Nast Digital. Archived from the original on February 13, 2011. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
- Super Mario Galaxy Original Sound Track Platinum Version (Media notes). Nintendo. 2008.
- Gifford, Kevin (February 24, 2010). "How Mario Music Gets Made". 1UP.com. UGO Entertainment, Inc. Archived from the original on September 29, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- Napolitano, Jayson (June 21, 2011). "Koji Kondo Talks Ocarina of Time, Gives Details on Skyward Sword". Original Sound Version. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved June 22, 2011.
- Otero, Jose. "How Mario Maker Mixes Music With Level Creation". IGN. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
- "Nintendo Minute -- Chatting with Koji Kondo". YouTube. Nintendo.
- James, Dean. "Imagine Dragons And Koji Kondo Celebrate Majora's Mask At The Game Awards 2014". attackofthefanboy.com. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
- "Mario ringtone marks over two years on charts. Who knew?". Joystiq. December 7, 2006. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
- "Inside Zelda Part 4: Natural Rhythms of Hyrule". Nintendo Power. Nintendo of America, Inc. (195). September 2005. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014.
- NintenDaanNC. "[NC UK] Koji Kondo Interview".
- "Video Games Daily | Nintendo Interview: Koji Kondo, May 2007". Archive.videogamesdaily.com. May 10, 2007. Archived from the original on October 7, 2013. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
- "Iwata Asks". Iwataasks.nintendo.com. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
- Greening, Chris; Harris, Dave (March 28, 2011). "Soyo Oka Interview: The Comeback of Super Mario Kart's Composer". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
- Otero, Jose. "A Music Trivia Tour with Nintendo's Koji Kondo". IGN. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- "2011 Winners & Nominees". bafta.org. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
- "Games in 2014". bafta.org. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
- Greening, Chris. "Annual Game Music Awards 2013 Nominations". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved July 13, 2015.