Do we know which tracks Koji Kondo actually composed?

May 31, 2009
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#1
After many complaints over the abomination that is the soundtrack/arrangement for the four NSMB games, I started listening to some of the NES and SNES Mario soundtracks while studying for exams. I have come to one unanimous conclusion.

KOJI KONDO IS A GOD



Kondo has composed the greatest and most popular video game music of all time, most notably the Super Mario and Legend of Zelda games.

Here is his resume. Kondo composed the entirety of the soundtracks for the following titles:



16 games, 16 incredible scores.

However, Kondo's work didn't stop there. Since the release of his last solo score, Ocarina of Time, in 1998, Kondo has continued to work at Nintendo, composing for games in collaboration with other composers at EAD.

However, there has been much confusion over which tracks exactly Kondo himself has composed for these newer games, and which were composed by his co-workers. In fact, I've ever seen people claim Kondo composed tracks for Wii Sports and the Wii Menu/Wii Shop Channel, which simply isn't true. There doesn't seem to be a source on the Internet for detailing each and every track the man has composed.

So that's what this thread is for. After much research, and scouring through many interviews, I have an incomplete list of every track the greatest video game composer of all time has composed since his last solo score, Ocarina of Time (besides SF64!). If you guys can fill in any blanks, please don't be shy!

Star Fox 64 (1997)



Kondo composed a sizable chunk of the Star Fox 64 soundtrack, alongside Hajime Wakai. Kondo's contributions include:

Opening
Title Screen
Select
Map
VS Select
Start Demo 1
Start Demo 2
Bill's Theme
Cat's Theme
Mission Accomplished
Mission Complete
Player Down
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
Game Over
All Clear
Staff Credits


The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (1999)




Despite borrowing heavily from the Ocarina of Time soundtrack, there are many fantastic new tracks in Majora's Mask. Kondo composed the entire album with the exception of three songs:

Battle
Mini Boss
Boss Battle

which were composed by Toru Minegishi.

Super Mario Sunshine (2002)



Kondo composed some of the catchier tracks on the Sunshine soundtrack:

Delfino Plaza
Secret Course
Bianco Hills
Ricco Harbor
Gelato Beach
Staff Roll

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (2003)



Surprisingly, Kondo's role with Wind Waker was quite small. From my research, I have only been able to confirm one track that he definitely composed for the game:

Grandma's Theme

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (2004)



From what I could gather, the majority of the FSA soundtrack consists of remixes from previous Zelda titles. Kondo has a credit as composer, does anyone know if he composed any new tracks for this game?

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006)



Once again, my research has let me down. The massive soundtrack for Twilight Princess was composed by Toru Minegishi, Asuka Ota and Koji Kondo, however, I can't seem to find which tracks Kondo composed himself.

Although this track didn't make it into the actual game, Kondo composed the music that played during the second Twilight Princess trailer. A beautiful piece.

New Super Mario Bros. (2006)



Everyone's favorite! Kondo composed the one and only main theme for the game:

BAH BAH

In case you can't stand the BAHs, Kondo performed it on the piano. Sounds a lot nicer :)

Don't worry, he redeemed himself with this next one...

Super Mario Galaxy (2007)



If you haven't bought the album yet, what are you waiting for? Super Mario Galaxy is a masterpiece, and the fully orchestrated score is no exception. In my opinion, the best soundtrack of the generation, and one of the greatest ever made.

Kondo only composed two songs for Galaxy:

Good Egg Galaxy
Comet Observatory

My two favorite pieces from the game! The other tracks were composed by Mahito Yokota, who did a brilliant job.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (2009)



From what I've gathered, Kondo only composed one song for Spirit Tracks:

Ending Theme

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010)



This one. Buy this soundtrack too. Do it now.

They somehow managed to improve on one of the greatest games ever made. Did they improve on the soundtrack? Quite possibly.

Kondo was more involved with Galaxy 2's score, with 4 new compositions this time around:

Yoshi Star Galaxy
Starship Mario
Koopa Jr's Fortress
Green Star

This list doesn't include some incredible Super Mario 64 and Super Mario World remixes. Great stuff.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011)



Kondo has stated in an interview that he only composed one song for Skyward Sword:

Legend of Skyloft (Intro Music)

Super Mario 3D World (2013)




According to the official soundtrack, Konjo composed two tracks for 3D World:

Chain-Link Charge
Sunshine Seaside

Other Tracks (Various Games, Various Years)




In a recent interview, Kondo revealed that he composed one track for Pilotwings on the SNES, the Helicopter theme.

Pilotwings - Helicopter


And that's it! So far. Again, if anyone could help me fill in the blanks, it would be greatly appreciated.

Kondo is a pretty cool guy.

What's your favorite Kojo Kondo track?
 
Jul 10, 2006
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#8
It's my understanding that Kondo didn't compose anything for Twilight Princess. He said as much at one point in 2006, but I can't seem to find the source. He also didn't do anything for Phantom Hourglass.

I also want to point out that the music in the Twilight Princess trailer was composed by Mahito Yokota (and arranged by Michiru Oshima), not Kondo.
 
Jun 6, 2012
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#10
I'll never understand why some hold Oematsu in higher regard. The final fantasy series has it's share of classic tracks for sure, but I really think his work on Mario alone is more than that of FF. Especially since FF games reuse quite a few tracks. All in all one of my all time favourite musisians, simply amazing what this man is and was capable of producing.
 
May 31, 2009
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#16
It's my understanding that Kondo didn't compose anything for Twilight Princess. He said as much at one point in 2006, but I can't seem to find the source. He also didn't do anything for Phantom Hourglass.

I also want to point out that the music in the Twilight Princess trailer was composed by Mahito Yokota (and arranged by Michiru Oshima), not Kondo.
WN: What is your job like now? Do you do much composition these days?

KK: A lot of my time right now is spent checking on the work of the staff, managing them. As far as composition, I did the above-ground theme in New Super Mario Bros., and the music from the demo scene in Twilight Princess.
Source

If I recall correctly, the trailer (with Kondo's supposed music) starts playing at the Twilight Princess title screen if you don't pretty any buttons. Perhaps this is what he is referring to when he says "demo scene" ?

You can find info about Kondo's contributions on SF64 here: http://vgmdb.net/album/133
Thanks! Added to OP.
 
Jul 10, 2006
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#18
Source

If I recall correctly, the trailer (with Kondo's supposed music) starts playing at the Twilight Princess title screen if you don't pretty any buttons. Perhaps this is what he is referring to when he says "demo scene" ?
There seems to be a bit of conflicting information about this. Before Yokota was in the public eye, this was said in an interview:

Kondo said:
The process of creating the E3 trailer was fascinating. Three people (including me) each composed a different approach to the trailer’s music. Then we asked one of Japan’s most extraordinarily gifted composers and music arrangers, Michiru Oshima, to work her magic on all three pieces, envisioning how an orchestra could wrap its many instruments around the general music. We then recorded each of the three orchestrations with famed conductor Yasuzo Takemoto on hand, who you might know as the conductor who stood command over the amazing 2002 Smash Bros. concert in Japan.

However, since Mario Galaxy exposed Yokota, he's been talked up as being responsible for the orchestrated trailer music for TP, as recently as the Iwata Asks for OoT 3D.

Iwata You're sort of the orchestration director for the Legend of Zelda music, aren't you?
Yokota Yes. I was in charge of the orchestral songs for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess8 as well.

Some people seem to think that Kondo is actually talking about this piece instead. It's hard to say.
 

Oblivion

Fetishing muscular manly men in skintight hosery
Jul 17, 2005
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#19
I'm fairly positive Kondo confirmed some where that he did the Dragon Roost Isle theme. And didn't he create 4 tracks for the first SMG? I vividly remember him using that number.

Shocked to learn that Toru Minageshi did the mini boss and main boss themes for MM. The style for both seems VERY much like something Kondo would have created himself.

As for favorite themes. Ha! Far too many to list, but off the top of my head:

-Dire Dire Docks
-Road to Bowser
-Song of Storms
-Bolero of Fire
-Gerudo Valley
-Dark World theme

There seems to be a bit of conflicting information about this. Before Yokota was in the public eye, this was said in an interview:




However, since Mario Galaxy exposed Yokota, he's been talked up as being responsible for the orchestrated trailer music for TP, as recently as the Iwata Asks for OoT 3D.




Some people seem to think that Kondo is actually talking about this piece instead. It's hard to say.
That was always confusing, but if Kondo wasn't referring to that particular trailer theme, I always felt he could have been referring to this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sDk9LM60qg
 
Jan 12, 2009
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#20
Just a note here to some people who aren't familiar with music practices, the composer is always credited first.

So say there's a piece that Yokota orchestrated, but Kondo composed; Kondo would primarily get credit here (and depending on the company, they sometimes do not credit the orchestrator despite the very difficult job they do).

Orchestrators and composers are two completely different roles that require very different skillsets, but many composers choose to do both (and many because it's required in this field of education at a university/conservatory level). There are many instances, especially in larger companies with larger teams of composers who will have a dedicated orchestrator though, just because of the sizes of some projects.
 

Oblivion

Fetishing muscular manly men in skintight hosery
Jul 17, 2005
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#21
Just a note here to some people who aren't familiar with music practices, the composer is always credited first.

So say there's a piece that Yokota orchestrated, but Kondo composed; Kondo would primarily get credit here (and depending on the company, they sometimes do not credit the orchestrator despite the very difficult job they do).

Orchestrators and composers are two completely different roles that require very different skillsets, but many composers choose to do both. There are many instances, especially in larger companies with larger teams of composers who will have a dedicated orchestrator though, just because of the sizes of some projects.
I always wondered what the difference was. I mean, composer I guess is fairly easy to assume is the guy/girl who comes up with the actual music. The orchestrator...arranges said music? Am I off too badly?
 
Feb 24, 2011
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#23
Great composer, though there are a fair few that I like much more. His relative inactivity as of late hasn't really helped much. Seems that newer composers have been stepping up to the plate at Nintendo in recent years.
 
Jan 12, 2009
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#26
I always wondered what the difference was. I mean, composer I guess is fairly easy to assume is the guy/girl who comes up with the actual music. The orchestrator...arranges said music? Is that right?
Many composers when working on music for larger ensembles create what are called short scores (do know that everyone works differently though). What a short score is, is a condensed version of your piece. An easy way to kinda describe it to look at vocal scores, where they have a piano reduction of all the voices into 2 line.

The composer conceives the idea and puts it to a score. One big thing to note is that every composer works differently. There are some composers who compose and orchestrate at the same time, some who choose to plan their orchestration first, some who compose and hand it off to an orchestrator, etc.

So like, the composition itself are the notes on the page. The orchestration process is when you take the notes and apply them to instruments in certain sections to create a timbral shape. Some things you'll more frequently hear an orchestrator in the process say are like, "Oh, I think flute would be great here!", "I think the cellos should double the trombones in this section for more emphasis of the accents!", or "This section should see a reduction in texture and timbre, so let's remove the brass here to lighten things up".

Making compositions for ensembles has two parts to it, and that is composing and orchestration. The main thing that orchestrators are really good at are knowing good ways to blend the timbre of the ensemble, and know the limitations, functionality, and timbre of every instrument in order to create something that is actually playable for humans with instruments.

The terms orchestrator and arranger are different though. When we refer to an arranger, we refer to someone who changes a finished product and adheres it to something else (to create an arrangement), while an orchestrator (typically) works with something that is unfinished to create a finished product. Arrangers don't work on something that is incomplete.

But yeah, like I said earlier, if gone through formal education, all composers are taught orchestration, but not all of them like to do it (because it is very tedious work) or have other people who do it for them (because they may be very skilled at something like that). Personally as a composer myself, I prefer to do all the orchestation on my own in order to fully realize my intent.
 

Oblivion

Fetishing muscular manly men in skintight hosery
Jul 17, 2005
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#27
Many composers when working on music for larger ensembles create what are called short scores (do know that everyone works differently though). What a short score is, is a condensed version of your piece. An easy way to kinda describe it to look at vocal scores, where they have a piano reduction of all the voices into 2 line.

The composer conceives the idea and puts it to a score. One big thing to note is that every composer works differently. There are some composers who compose and orchestrate at the same time, some who choose to plan their orchestration first, some who compose and hand it off to an orchestrator, etc.

So like, the composition itself are the notes on the page. The orchestration process is when you take the notes and apply them to instruments in certain sections to create a timbral shape. Some things you'll more frequently hear an orchestrator in the process say are like, "Oh, I think flute would be great here!", "I think the cellos should double the trombones in this section for more emphasis of the accents!", or "This section should see a reduction in texture and timbre, so let's remove the brass here to lighten things up".

Making compositions for ensembles has two parts to it, and that is composing and orchestration. The main thing that orchestrators are really good at are knowing good ways to blend the timbre of the ensemble, and know the limitations, functionality, and timbre of every instrument in order to create something that is actually playable for humans with instruments.

But yeah, like I said earlier, if gone through formal education, all composers are taught orchestration, but not all of them like to do it (because it is very tedious work) or have other people who do it for them (because they may be very skilled at something like that). Personally as a composer myself, I prefer to do all the orchestation on my own in order to fully realize my intent.
Wow, that makes it seem like the orchestrators have a lot of sway over the final sound. I didn't know that. Thanks for the info.
 
Jul 10, 2006
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#30
Just a note here to some people who aren't familiar with music practices, the composer is always credited first.

So say there's a piece that Yokota orchestrated, but Kondo composed; Kondo would primarily get credit here (and depending on the company, they sometimes do not credit the orchestrator despite the very difficult job they do).

Orchestrators and composers are two completely different roles that require very different skillsets, but many composers choose to do both (and many because it's required in this field of education at a university/conservatory level). There are many instances, especially in larger companies with larger teams of composers who will have a dedicated orchestrator though, just because of the sizes of some projects.
The thing is that Michiru Oshima is credited as orchestrating the pieces, I don't think that part is at all ambiguous. The composition is the part that's confusing. Kondo originally said that they had three different composers, which would be Kondo, Yokota and someone else (probably Minegishi or Nagata) and that Oshima arranged them. It's just that later, it was said that Yokota was responsible for all of them.
 
May 17, 2006
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#32
Kondo is really good at what he does, but he would be hard pressed to come up with more complex pieces like those of Mitsuda, Uematsu, Shimomura etc. He's perfect for Nintendo, nonetheless.
 
Jan 12, 2009
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#33
The thing is that Michiru Oshima is credited as orchestrating the pieces, I don't think that part is at all ambiguous. The composition is the part that's confusing. Kondo originally said that they had three different composers, which would be Kondo, Yokota and someone else (probably Minegishi or Nagata) and that Oshima arranged them. It's just that later, it was said that Yokota was responsible for all of them.
It really depends on the company how they decide to present the information in their setting. Maybe they wanted to try presenting him more in the public setting or something, but that is a weird revisionist thing of them to do, or Kondo was misquoted.

I'd like to find out more about this if I can.

And for the name thing, I meant on the actual paper scores and parts the conductors and performers use.
 
Jul 26, 2006
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#36
Kondo is really good at what he does, but he would be hard pressed to come up with more complex pieces like those of Mitsuda, Uematsu, Shimomura etc. He's perfect for Nintendo, nonetheless.
That strikes me as kind of an ignorant thing to say. He's doing the kind of music he does, because these catchy tunes are what fits to Nintendo's games and not the other way around. We wouldn't know whether he's able to compose "more complex pieces" since he never had the chance to do those. Even the Zelda series doesn't give the opportunity to compose 10 minute epics, since there's no focus on story events.
 
Feb 6, 2012
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#37
Anything and everything from Super Mario World, Link to the Past, or Super Mario 64 and I'm anyone's.

Kondo is really good at what he does, but he would be hard pressed to come up with more complex pieces like those of Mitsuda, Uematsu, Shimomura etc. He's perfect for Nintendo, nonetheless.
His work is no more or less 'complex' than any of the greats in his field. He's an impeccable composer by anyone's definition.
 

BGBW

Maturity, bitches.
Jan 19, 2007
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#38
He also helped with the score of Wii Music if I recall. Not the Wii Music theme, but choosing the notes to be played when a player presses a button off beat.
 
Feb 18, 2010
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#39
His music was one of the main reasons that got me to finally play OoT. I loved a few tracks before even trying the game. Edit: Favorite track? Probably Song of Storms or Temple of Time.

I just realized he wasn't involved in the Paper Mario games. Well I learned a new name to thank for this gem, Yuka Tsujiyoko (she composed Together We Ride too, cool).
 

I'm an expert

Formerly worldrevolution. The only reason I am nice to anyone else is to avoid being banned.
Nov 26, 2008
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#40
Never been a huge Kondo fan, but all this thread revealed to me is that he's composed very little of what people seem to think he's famous for after the S/NES era. One or two Mario or Zelda songs here and there.. and then a bunch of SF64. Alright. =/

edit: clarity
 
Jan 19, 2006
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#43
Good thread/opening post! We have the same tastes, why do you not add me on your Wii U friend list, OP?! (or do you? can't remeber the 2 or 3 gaffers who still hadn't) ^^"

Finding accurate credits for each tracks is really difficult, particularly for the mroe recent games (more music in it, unlike reto games where teams were very thin).
For Zelda FSA, there is only a couple of new tracks, including the End Credits. But in the japanese version in Navi Trackers, there are awesome tracks, but I don't know if Kondo is responsible for it.

However, Kondo has been very discrete lately, but between Mario Galaxy and Skyward Sword his main work are still kicking asses. I like it like that, with youger composers doing the needed remixes.
 

Wiz

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#45
Dire Dire Docks/Jolly Roger Bay from SM64 is a timeless masterpiece. That is all.

And I could've sworn he did more work for Skyward Sword. Who was the main composer for that?
 
Oct 27, 2011
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#46
I was grabbing mail in the lobby of my apartment yesterday. They usually play the classical radio station in the background. I couldn't help but smile when I realized the orchestra broke into a medley of Super Mario World. I love finding Kondo's work in everyday life instead of just being held within the realms of video game culture. Great composer.
 
May 22, 2012
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#49
Kondo only composed on song for Skyward Sword....that makes a lot of sense. The music in Skyward Sword was easily the worst in the entire series. A shame that the first Zelda soundtrack to use an Orchestra was a mess.
 
Dec 17, 2007
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#50
My favorite Nintendo scores aren't even by Koji Kondo. While he makes undeniably catchy tunes, I think he's pretty overrated in comparison to other composers.