Nintendo Music (2005)

for clarinet in A and piano
duration: 7 minutes

Faber Music published score details, including online score preview.

Programme Notes

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was a revolutionary video game system that took the world by storm in the 1980s and early 1990s. One of its main features was its use of music: in particular, its design limitations with three monophonic synthesizers and one ‘noise’ chip embedded within the machine itself lead to a very distinctive style of music that is instantly recognizable even today by video game afficionados.

Nintendo Music takes as its starting point some of these musical styles and features and translates them across to a work for clarinet and piano. In addition, this piece uses the structure of video games themselves to create the structure of the music. A popular game format used on the NES was the platform game, in which the player’s character moves about a variety of scenarios, jumping from object to object, avoiding enemies and typically fighting a ‘boss’ at the end of each level. (Super Mario Brothers and MegaMan are examples of platform games).

Nintendo Music uses aspects of music distinctive to each stage of playing such a platform game. The opening, for example, evokes the startup screen after the machine is turned on, the process of selecting a level, and starting the initial level. Sometimes the player dies, but eventually, by the penultimate section (after the clarinet cadenza), the player defeats the end boss, finishing the game.

notes by Matthew Hindson.

CD Recording Available?

This piece is available on the disc entitled “North South East West”, by Belgian clarinettist, Marcel Luxen. See the Spotify link above.

Other Information

An excellent journal article has been written on this piece, published in Context, by Jessica Crowe.

Title of the journal article

2 thoughts on “Nintendo Music (2005)”

  1. G’day

    Im doing my HSC on clarinet and would love to find a recording of this or the new one for clarinet quartet. if anyone finds out could they please let me know of a recording 🙂


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