What I’ve Been Reading: Koji Kondo’s Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack, by Andrew Schartmann

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koji kondo super mario bros soundtrackEven the 33 1/3 books I haven’t liked I’ve at least understood. Not so much with this one. This installment takes the approach that I think was perhaps somewhat more expected when Bloomsbury took over publishing the series of single books on important albums—a more academic, learned approach than the popular volumes that had marked the series previously. Happily, that generally hasn’t been the case, but it was here.

Which is not to say that Schartmann’s book wasn’t good; I just couldn’t make much of it. It’s full of musical notations, technical music terminology, and music theory. For people who understand and are interested in this stuff, I bet it’s a great book. For me, someone almost entirely ignorant of that material, I could hardly decipher it.

Too bad, too. The idea of one of these books tackling a video game soundtrack, rather than a traditional album, was so exciting to me. I was hoping for more biography on Kondo and Nintendo, more technology detail on how the original Nintendo Entertainment System made its sounds, what its constraints were, etc. Instead, the book was much more intellectual and academic than I was prepared—or equipped—for.

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