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Koji Kondo

March 19th, 2007

Koji Kondo (近藤 浩治, Kondō Kōji?, b. August 13, 1960) is a Japanese composer and musician best known for his scores for various video games produced by Nintendo.

Kondo was born in Nagoya, Japan. He took to music at an early age, writing simple tunes for fun even when young. At seventeen years of age, he decided to pursue music professionally[citation needed]. He undertook classical training, and he learned to play several instruments[citation needed].

In the 1980s, Kondo learned that a company called Nintendo was seeking musicians to compose music for its new video game system, the Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System outside Japan). Kondo had never considered writing video game music before, but he decided to give the company a chance. He was hired in 1983.

Kondo found himself in a totally different environment at Nintendo. Suddenly, he was limited to only four “instruments” (two monophonic pulse channels, a monophonic triangle wave channel which could be used as a bass, and a noise channel used for percussion) due to limitations of the system’s sound chip. Though he and Nintendo’s technicians eventually discovered a way to add a fifth channel (normally reserved for sound effects), his music was still severely limited on the system.

Kondo has stayed with Nintendo through various consoles, including the Super Famicom (Super Nintendo outside Japan), the Nintendo 64, the Nintendo GameCube, the Nintendo DS and most recently the Wii. These latter systems have vastly improved Nintendo’s audio capabilities, and Kondo today composes music with CD quality sound.

Koji Kondo attended the world-premiere of PLAY! A Video Game Symphony at the Rosemont Theater in Rosemont, Illinois in May of 2006. His music from the Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda series was performed by a full symphony orchestra. This event drew nearly four thousand attendees.

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