The Super Marios Bros. theme song was programmed to be an earworm

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TheFuture. The original Super Mario Bros. theme song is a work of both music and programming genius (we’re sure you’re whistling it right now). Yet, its creator, Koji Kondo, is relatively unknown. Considering its enduring success since 1985 and the outsized success that The Super Mario Bros. Movie is currently enjoying, Kondo may soon become a household name… and further evidence that great composers are an indispensable part of a game’s longevity.

Composer & coder
Koji Kondo may be the godfather of video game music.

  • He’s the mind behind the classic Mario theme, titled “Ground Theme,” which is a classic despite being just 88 seconds long and having only 24 seconds of original material. 
  • What’s amazing is that Kondo had to figure out how to make something that fits the game design and was catchy on a system that could only play up to three notes at once.
  • The sound produced on the original Nintendo console was also very robotic, so Kondo had to manipulate both the music and the code to create the iconic tune.

Speaking to WSJ, Dr. Andrew Schartmann, a New England Conservatory of Music professor and author of the 2015 book “Koji Kondo’s Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack,” notes that the song is almost a miracle. That’s because Kondo “knew people would be playing these games for hours on end,” Dr. Schartmann said, “and he needed to do as much as possible to not drive people nuts.” 

No wonder “Ground Theme” was just accepted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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