31 March 2011

Live Event: The Legacy Music Dance Party on 4/30/11

Brent Weinbach and Rob F. are extremely proud to present a dance night featuring ONLY video game music from the 8-bit and 16-bit era. No remixes, no covers, no adaptations of non-video game music -just pure, original, dancy music from the Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and more.  That's right!  Your favorite video game music hosts are going to act as video game music DJs for one night and showcase their favorite songs for you to groove to all night long (that is, until midnight, so be sure to get there by 9pm)!

Plus, special video game music related contests and prizes! There's a "name that tune" contest (Mame That Chune), a video game music karaoke contest (VGM Karaoke), and a video game music dance battle (Legacy Dance Party: Battle Mode). Sign up at the beginning of the night to become a possible contestant.   Prizes courtesy of our official sponsor, Golden Star Games.

Note about VGM Karaoke: You can sing along to a song of your choice with either prepared written lyrics, lyrics you make up on the spot, or humming along gibberish.  Audience will vote by applause on the winner, based on overall performance.

The Legacy Music Dance Party
April 30th, 2011
9 PM - 12 Midnight
Nerdist @ Meltdown
7522 Sunset Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90046 (map)

30 March 2011

Episode 22: Classical Music

Classical music is the focus of Episode 22 and Brent and Rob deliver a wide variety of video game music ranging from Baroque-sounding to 20th Century-sounding.  Black tie not required, but welcome.  Full track listing below.

Game - Composer - Song - Company - Console - Year (the version we played was released)

Actraiser - Yuzo Koshiro - Birth of the People - Enix - SNES - 1991

Rygar - Michiharu Hasuya (T. Hasuya) - Gran Mountain - Tecmo - NES - 1987

Puyo Puyo - Masanobu Tsukamoto (Mats) - Baroque - Compile - Mega Drive - 1992

Actraiser 2 - Yuzo Koshiro - Death Field - Enix - SNES - 1993

Columns - Tokuhiko Uwabo - Clotho - Sega - Genesis - 1990

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - Koji Kondo - Forest of Mystery - Nintendo - SNES - 1992

Famicom Wars - Hirokazu Tanaka - Game Over - Nintendo - Famicom - 1988

Secret of Evermore - Jeremy Soule - Storekeepers - Squaresoft - SNES - 1995

Mother - Hirokazu Tanaka, Keiichi Suzuki - Game Over - Nintendo - Famicom - 1989

Secret of Mana - Hiroki Kikuta - What the Forest Taught Me - Square - SNES - 1993

Castlevania Legends - Kaoru Okada, Youichi Iwata - Underground Watercourse (Stage 5) - Konami - Game Boy - 1998

Wordtris - Paul Mogg - Stage C - Spectrum HoloByte - SNES - 1992

Actraiser - Yuzo Koshiro - Sky Palast - Enix - SNES - 1991

Faxanadu - Jun Chikuma - Mantra - Hudson Soft - NES - 1989

The Battle of Olympus - Kazuo Sawa - Crete - Broderbund - NES - 1990

Solomon's Key - Michiharu Hasuya (Michiharu Hasutani) - Room Theme 2 - Tecmo - NES - 1987

Columns - Tokuhiko Uwabo - Filthy - Sega - Genesis - 1990

Actraiser - Yuzo Koshiro - North Wall - Enix - SNES - 1991

Actraiser - Yuzo Koshiro - Piramid-Marana - Enix - SNES - 1991

23 March 2011

Episode 21: Jeff van Dyck

Brent and Rob conduct an interview with acclaimed video game music composer Jeff van Dyck.  He gives a fascinating look into composing 16-bit tunes as well as an explanation of the Genesis and SNES hardware.  This interview also features some of Jeff's greatest hits during the 16-bit era.  NOTE: Yes, The Legacy Music Hour is aware that they neglected to ask about the basketball games Jeff worked on.  ANOTHER NOTE: The Legacy Music Hour did not play a track from NHL 96, because it was later discovered that Jeff only composed music for the PC version, and not the Genesis or SNES versions.  Full track listing below.


Game - Composer - Song - Company - Console - Year (the version we played was released)

FIFA International Soccer - Jeff van Dyck - Title - Electronic Arts - SNES - 1993

NBA Live 96 - Traz Damji - Title - Electonic Arts - Genesis - 1995

Skitchin' - Jeff van Dyck - Silken Liver Slipper - Electronic Arts - Genesis - 1993

Skitchin' - Jeff van Dyck - Cheese Grater - Electronic Arts - Genesis - 1993

FIFA Soccer 95 - Jeff van Dyck - Menu 3 - Electronic Arts - Genesis - 1994

FIFA International Soccer - Jeff van Dyck - Menu 3 - Electronic Arts - SNES - 1993

FIFA International Soccer - Jeff van Dyck - BGM 4 - Electronic Arts - Genesis - 1993

FIFA International Soccer - Jeff van Dyck - Menu 2 - Electronic Arts - SNES - 1993

FIFA Soccer 95 - Jeff van Dyck - Menu 4 - Electronic Arts - Genesis - 1994

FIFA Soccer 95 - Jeff van Dyck - Menu 5 - Electronic Arts - Genesis - 1994

Coach K College Basketball - Jeff van Dyck - Victory - Electronic Arts - Genesis - 1995

16 March 2011

Episode 20: Free Play 2

Brent and Rob close out "Season 2" with their favorite tracks in another free play episode showcasing the finest 8-bit and 16-bit era music.  NOTE: In the picture below, this is only a portion of Brent's video game collection (in case anyone thought, "What, are they trying to show off or something?  As if that's a lot stuff?  'Cause it's not.").  Also, yes, the Sega stuff belongs to Brent too.   Full track listing below.

Game - Composer - Song - Company - Console - Year (the version we played was released)

Kings of the Beach - unknown - Game Select - Konami/Ultra Games - NES - 1990

Chrono Trigger - Yasunori Mitsuda - Main Theme - Square - SNES - 1995

Road Rash II - Rob Hubbard - Main Theme - Electronic Arts - Genesis - 1993

Legacy of the Wizard - Yuzo Koshiro (comp., arr.), Mieko Ishikawa (comp.) - Overworld - Falcom/Broderbund - NES - 1989

Mutant League Football - Brian Schmidt - Title Screen - Electronic Arts - Genesis - 1993

Blaster Master - Naoki Kodaka - Area 5 - Sunsoft - NES - 1988

Ninja Gaiden - Keiji Yamagishi (More Yamasan) - Level 4-2 - Tecmo - NES - 1989

The Goonies II - Satoe Terashima - Basement - Konami - NES - 1987

Stinger - Satoe Terashima (Brilliant Satoe), Kiyohiro Sada (Charley Sada), Shinya Sakamoto (Rusher Shinya), Kinuyo Yamashita (Yamako), Giant Ken - Final Stage Power-Up - Konami - NES - 1987

Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi - Keisuke Tsukahara (Tsukachan) - Ending Theme - Sega - Genesis - 1990

Gaiares - Shinobu Ogawa - Mission 3 - Telenet Japan - Genesis - 1990

Star Tropics - Yoshio Hirai - Cave - Nintendo - NES - 1990

Whip Rush - Seriinu, Sebastian - Stage 3: Underground Stronghold - Vic Tokai - Genesis - 1990

Puyo Puyo Tsuu - Tsuyoshi Matsushima - Area C - Compile - Mega Drive - 1994

Phelios - Yoshinori Kawamoto - Tears of Artemis ~ Loop (Intermission) - Namco - Genesis - 1990

Zillion - Tokuhiko Uwabo - Inside Planet (Break a Trap for Yourself) - Sega - Sega Master System - 1987

Phantasy Star IV - Izuho Numata (Izuho Takeuchi) - Her Last Breath - Sega - Genesis - 1995

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link - Akito Nakatsuka - Great Temple - Nintendo - NES - 1988

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link - Akito Nakatsuka - Title Screen - Nintendo - NES - 1988

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - unknown - Overworld 1 - Konami/Ultra Games - NES - 1989

09 March 2011

Episode 19: Ending Music

Brent and Rob share some of their favorite ending themes: *SPOILER ALERT* They talk about the endings to many of the games presented, so if you haven't beat the game yet, and you care, pay close attention when to fast forward.  Or maybe wait until you've beaten every video game to listen to this episode.  But, they do also introduce an embarrassing new segment called VGM Karaoke, so...  Full track listing below.

Game - Composer - Song - Company - Console - Year (the version we played was released)

Life Force - Miki Higashino, Hidenori Maezawa (arr.), Shinya Sakamoto (arr.), Satoe Terashima (arr.), Atsushi Fujio (arr.) - Peace Again (Ending) - Konami - NES - 1988

Gain Ground - Katsuhiro Hayashi - Door of the Space-Time - Sega - Genesis - 1991

Super Mario Bros. 2 - Koji Kondo - Ending - Nintendo - NES - 1988

Ninja Gaiden - Keiji Yamagishi (More Yamasan) - Ending - Tecmo - NES - 1989

Secret of Mana - Hiroki Kikuta - The Second Truth from the Left - Square - SNES - 1993

Shining in the Darkness - Masahiko Yoshimura - Ending Theme - Climax Entertainment - Genesis - 1991

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts - Mari Yamaguchi - Ending (part 2) - Capcom - SNES - 1991

Castlevania Legends - Kaoru Okada, Youichi Iwata - Ending - Konami - Game Boy - 1998

Puyo Puyo Tsuu - Tsuyoshi Matsushima - Ending B - Compile - Mega Drive - 1994

Golden Axe - You Takada (Dolphin), Tohru Nakabayashi - Sutakora, Sassa! - Sega - Genesis - 1989

Blaster Master - Naoki Kodaka - Ending - Sunsoft - NES - 1988

Gunstar Heroes - Norio Hanzawa - Reprise for Yellow (Credits) - Treasure - Genesis - 1993

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - Koji Kondo - Power of the Gods - Nintendo - SNES - 1992

The Legendary Axe - Jun Chikuma (Atsushi Chikuma), Toshiaki Takimoto - Ending - Victor Interactive Software - TurboGrafx-16 - 1989

Super Chase H.Q. - Yasuhisa Watanabe - Ending - Taito - SNES - 1993

Streets of Rage - Yuzo Koshiro - You Became the Bad Guy! - Sega - Genesis - 1991

Castlevania - Satoe Terashima - Voyager (Ending) - Konami - NES - 1987

04 March 2011

Episode 18: Hirokazu Tanaka

In this episode, Brent and Rob focus on the innovative work of video game music pioneer, Hirokazu Tanaka.  They also present an interview with Tanaka-san, conducted via e-mail.  A fascinating inside look into one of video game music's true forefathers!  Full track listing and interview (in text form) below.

Game - Composer - Song - Company - Console - Year (the version we played was released)

Gyromite - Hirokazu Tanaka - Game A - Nintendo - NES - 1985

Metroid - Hirokazu Tanaka - Escape - Nintendo - NES - 1987

Kid Icarus - Hirokazu Tanaka - Overworld - Nintendo - NES - 1987

Mother - Hirokazu Tanaka - Mother Earth - Nintendo - Famicom - 1989

Tetris - Hirokazu Tanaka - Music 2 - Nintendo - NES - 1989

Super Mario Land - Hirokazu Tanaka - Overworld - Nintendo - Game Boy - 1989

Dr. Mario - Hirokazu Tanaka - Fever - Nintendo - NES - 1990

EarthBound - Hirokazu Tanaka - Snowman - Nintendo - SNES - 1995

Metroid - Hirokazu Tanaka - Kraid - Nintendo - NES - 1987

Kid Icarus - Hirokazu Tanaka - Sky Palace - Nintendo - NES - 1987

Famicom Wars - Hirokazu Tanaka - gameplay - Nintendo - Famicom - 1988

Mother - Hirokazu Tanaka - Magicant - Nintendo - Famicom - 1989

Balloon Fight - Hirokazu Tanaka - Balloon Trip - Nintendo - NES - 1986

Wrecking Crew - Hirokazu Tanaka - BGM A - Nintendo - NES - 1985

Duck Hunt - Hirokazu Tanaka, Koji Kondo - Clay Shooting, Title Screen, Game Over - Nintendo - NES - 1985

Dr. Mario - Hirokazu Tanaka - Chill - Nintendo - NES - 1990

Mother - Hirokazu Tanaka - Humoresque of a Little Dog - Nintendo - Famicom - 1989

Stack-up - Hirokazu Tanaka - Memory - Nintendo - NES - 1985

Balloon Kid - Hirokazu Tanaka - Ending - Nintendo - Game Boy - 1990

Mario Paint - Kazumi Totaka, Ryoji Yoshitomi, Hirokazu Tanaka (dir.) - Monkey Song - Nintendo - SNES - 1992

Famicom Wars - Hirokazu Tanaka - Map - Nintendo - Famicom - 1988

Gumshoe - Hirokazu Tanaka - Level 2 - Nintendo - NES - 1986

EarthBound - Hirokazu Tanaka - The Power - Nintendo - SNES - 1995

Interview with Hirokazu Tanaka (coordination by 8-4, Ltd.):

Brent: Speaking specifically about your music from the 8-bit and 16-bit era, how would you describe your overall style?  What are some defining characteristics of a Hirokazu Tanaka piece?  Are there certain themes and compositional ideas that you were particularly interested in?

Hirokazu Tanaka: First, I should note that I do not have a particular "style" of my own -- the "game" comes before that. As the man in charge of sound, what should I do to make the game more exciting than it'd otherwise be? What sort of ideas can I come up with to accomplish this? I've always worked under the idea that these are the most important things to worry about, and that hasn't changed to this day.

I've also treated as important the concept of "sound without sound" -- the certain type of feeling, or mood, that can be created within someone playing a game. How can we create this feeling, and how can we make it seem like a novel experience to gamers? It's a question of the entire sound package, not one where you're dividing your attention between music, sound effects, and natural sounds.

If gamers feel that there's a unique "Hirokazu Tanaka" style, I think it's because of that approach I take to games.

I don't think about music or my own style; instead, as a member of the game team, I focus on thinking about making the game more fun.

I tend to prefer dramatic RPGs with complex story backdrops over simple action/puzzle games because they allow a wider variety of approaches and ideas to be implemented.

Brent: You have said in the past that even though tools were created to make game music programming easier, you continued to program in assembly, and that gave your music a unique quality.  Can you describe that quality?  That is, what about programming in assembly made your music different?

Hirokazu Tanaka: It was really just an effort to create a sort of sound that only I could be capable of. For example, if you want to change the music depending on what's happening in the game, you'd normally have to get the game programmer's help for that, but I handled it all by myself. There's a game for the Famicom Disk System called Knight Move (the Tetris author's second game), but the way that title's sound package works wouldn't have been possible unless I was doing the programming. I still like how that worked out.

Brent: Video game music composers are usually influenced by earlier game composers.  For example, Yuzo Koshiro says he was influenced by Miki Higashino.  But because you started composing game music so early on in the timeline of video game music, there wasn't any prior video game music to influence you.  So what did influence you?

Hirokazu Tanaka: I haven't been influenced by other game-music composers. Just like anyone who enjoys regular music, I've been influenced by many standard genres -- rock, techno, classical, folk music, hip-hop, R&B, reggae, and so on.

Brent: Considering that you started programming sound in 1980, does that make you one of the first game composers in history?  Who are some of the other pioneers?  As one of the first game music composers, can you describe how video game sound effects evolved into musical pieces?

Hirokazu Tanaka:
I doubt I'd be the very first composer in video game history. There were a lot of people like me working for places like Namco and Sega at the start of the '80s, and I'm sure there were many similar people overseas as well. There really wasn't any sort of interaction between us, though, so I wouldn't know most of their names.

There was a definite natural process where games went from sound effects to music, and there are two general reasons for this. One is the advance of hardware -- speedier CPUs, more RAM, and so on. More important, though, is the improvement in graphics and more complex types of gameplay that this new hardware gave us. That created a natural demand for more variety to the audio side of things as well.

Brent: Can you talk about the transition between Famicom and Super Famicom, and how that influenced your composing?

Hirokazu Tanaka: With the SFC, you had double the amount of voices and the ability to sample and use your own sounds, albeit not at very high quality if you wanted to fit it all in. I think it really expanded the amount of expressiveness possible in music. I don't think, though, that the improved hardware specs and extra voices improved the essence of game music in and of itself, however.

Brent: How did you get your nickname "Hip"?

Hirokazu Tanaka: That just sort of came out of nowhere and stuck.

Rob: In the 80s and the early-90s, which game composers did you admire?
Brent: Which game soundtracks were your favorite?

Hirokazu Tanaka: None in particular.

Brent: Why do you think there is such a difference between Western and Japanese composition styles?

Hirokazu Tanaka:
I really haven't played that many overseas games in the first place, so I can't answer this.

Brent: About Metroid, you said in the past that you tried to write non-catchy music, and that you only hear a catchy melody when you beat the game.  Personally, I think the music to Metroid is catchy all the way through the whole game.  It's one of my favorite soundtracks of all time.  Can you explain what you meant by the music being non-catchy?  What's not catchy about it?

Hirokazu Tanaka: I think we may be seeing the word "catchy" in different ways here. What I'm talking about is a lack of light, nimble music; minor chords; the lack of a strong melody.

I do think that Metroid is one of the most unique among the titles I've worked on. The idea behind it was to use clear, bright chords only in the song played during the ending, giving the player a strong sense of catharsis.

The only songs in the game that use (relatively) bright chords are the ending tune and the jingle that plays at the start of the game. Outside of that, much of the music serves to encourage a sense of anxiety, right? That's what I was intending to say.

Brent: In both Metroid and Kid Icarus, the use of counterpoint is pretty prominent.  Were you influenced by Classical music?
Rob: If so, what are your favorite Classical music pieces?

Hirokazu Tanaka: I think it's more the case that Dragon Quest was really popular in Japan at the time and the composer on that project is most gifted at the sort of music an orchestra can produce. That really had a major effect on trends all across Japanese game music around that time.

I am not at all an expert in classical music, but as a kid, we had a lot of records at home from famous musicians that I listened to -- Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Schubert, Haydn, Saint-Saëns, and so on. I don't really feel like I've been directly influenced by classical music, but I can see how I might have been affected  subconsciously at an early age -- we're talking the age of eight and younger here.

Brent: Can you describe your process when composing?  Did you play the game without sound first, and then write the music?  Or did you just compose the music from storyboards and artwork?  Did you compose on musical instruments first or did you begin writing a piece by programming it from the start?

Hirokazu Tanaka: This can depend a lot on the individual project, so it's difficult to describe a single process.

However, there is one unique aspect to how I create music data. Most composers usually play out music on a MIDI keyboard, record it, and edit the results to create music data, but for me, all through the FC and SFC I wrote my note data directly into the machine in code form.

Rob: I've read that there were good-spirited rivalries between video game composers in the past.  Is that true?  Who were the composers involved with these rivalries?
Brent: And what were the rivalries about?

Hirokazu Tanaka:
I've never really seen anyone else as my rival, although naturally I've kept tabs on games that are popular in the market.

Rob: Were you ever approached by Sega or NEC about possible employment?

Hirokazu Tanaka: I haven't.

Brent: Was any of your music rejected or never used?  Are you particularly fond of any music of yours that was never used?

Hirokazu Tanaka: It certainly has, and even now, I like some of that music.

Rob: Sometimes, game composers were credited with aliases instead of using their full names.  Why was that?

Hirokazu Tanaka: I suppose it's because the composers themselves like using names like that.

Brent: Do you play video games?  Did you prefer older games to newer games?  What are your favorite games to play?

Hirokazu Tanaka: I don't play many games these days, but since I'm in a Pokémon outfit, I still play the Pokémon games and Nintendo's lineup in general. Most of the famous, top-selling games I at least try out a little, but I almost never play them to the end.

Rob: Do you still compose 8-bit and 16-bit music?

Hirokazu Tanaka: I don't compose any of it for game purposes, but I still love 8-bit music.

Brent: What are you working on and doing today?

Hirokazu Tanaka:
I am the president of Creatures, Inc.

I also do a lot of composing work for the Pokémon TV show and films.

On a more personal level, I have an interest in dance music like minimal techno, electronica, and reggae, so I compose that sort of thing as well.

Brent: Would you like to add or plug anything else?

Hirokazu Tanaka: It has been about 30 years since I began working for Nintendo, but I always see it as an honor to get asked for interviews like this one. It's always a surprise for me to see how many people there are all over the world that like the music from Metroid. It makes me extremely happy and always gives me a lot of personal encouragement in my work.

Thank you.