Hyrule Field vs. Good Egg Galaxy

A while ago I made a remark about two Nintendo themes, one from The Ocarina of Time and the other from Super Mario Galaxy. Well, I finally decided to set some time aside and analyze the fragments. Prepare yourself for a little bit of music theory (excuse the hasty transcriptions).

Hyrule Field - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Good Egg Galaxy - Super Mario Galaxy

Chords are given above the staffs, with Roman numeral analysis below. Now since they're in two different keys, I transposed the Hyrule chord progression to the simplest key of C major so you could compare the chords within the same key.

Now, even if you don't know music theory and can't hear the chords, I think you can at least agree that they look similar. Add to that the basic melodic contour and it seems like Mahito Yokota (composer of SMG) ripped off of Koji Kondo (composer of OoT)

Now, let's dissect the progressions and compare the chords against one another (vertically):
  • Coinciding chords. Chord #1, 3, 7, and 8 are the same. That's half of the eight chords and traditionally the the framework of any basic tonic-predominant-dominant progression. Another way of looking at it is that these are the main chords, while everything else embellishes them.

  • Substituted tonic. Chord #5 in the first progression is a "I" or tonic chord (C-E-G), so the chord of the key (C major). The second progression has a "vi" chord in its place, which is A minor (A-C-E), which shares two of the three notes. In general, substituting a vi for a I is called deceptive cadence since you be expecting the original C major chord but instead hear a chord of a different quality, yet it differs by one note (as a triad). Add to it the G from the arpeggiated melody and this seventh chord (A-C-E-G) actually contains the other progression's tonic chord  (C-E-G). How's that for overlap?

  • Foreign predominant chords. Chord #6 in the first progression is a D major chord, a chord outside of the key of C major. The corresponding chord in the second progression is the A-flat chord, also outside of the key (accidentals are the first hint). The D major chord functions as a secondary dominant (V of V)as it sets up the G major in the following two measures. The A-flat chord, when thought of as an augmented sixth chord without the seventh also sets up the G major chord in the following measures. Even if you don't understand a word of that, the point is these two major predominant chords serve the same function yet clearly lie outside of the key.

  • And as for that second chord. Well, that's a bit tougher to explain, and I could easily cop-out and say it's a throwaway (we've already accounted for 7 out of the 8). Here, I want to say that the strength of the fifth in the melody (in the scores, that's D with respect to G and G with respect to C) dominates the measure as it stands out as the highest note of the passage. And as I suggested above, it is an embellishing, passing chord that isn't as significant as the others.
When you consider it all together, you can see how they're structurally similar, especially with the primary chords. I actually thought they were the same progression the first time I heard the Good Egg Galaxy theme. Then again, that could just be because I fondly remember the Hyrule Field theme and pick up on anything that bears any resemblance.

So what do you think? Have I convinced you? Do you think Mahito Yokota ripped off of Koji Kondo?

No comments:

Post a Comment