Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 21 ~Type C~ (Tetris)

Origin: Tetris (NES)
Plays In: When "Type C" is selected.
Status: Original Composition
Composer: Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka

Now here's a song you probably weren't expecting. Believe it or not, there was actually a time I didn't care much for Tetris at all. Whenever I visited my cousins' house as a child, I had a habit of digging through their Game Boy games and their copy of Tetris always eluded me. Whereas my brother Michael and cousin Joe would be entranced by the endless storm of falling blocks, I never grasped the point of it all. What was the purpose in sticking and stacking stacking blocks of different shapes together? Call it simple childhood naiveté, but it was a lingering question that dwelled for many years.

It wasn't until five years ago--back when I was analyzing Super Mario Bros. for the blog--when I came across the cartridge for the NES version that one of my brother's friends gave to me a lifetime ago. In a period where I was busy unshackling myself from childhood biases, I finally discovered that, yes, Tetris is a beautiful thing. I'm still kicking myself for being blind to its addictive majesty as a youth, but such is life.

Yet what really hooked me wasn't chaining combos or the stress of a rapidly-filling screen, but the original song composition we're featuring today. Whereas Nintendo's Tetris is typically known for its use of Russian folksongs and classic music, Hip Tanaka occasionally graced us with an original piece of his own, and the NES version's Type C captivated me from the get-go. It's so unlike anything else in the Tetris music library; whereas songs like the Game Boy's famous Type A are catchy themes that never leave your head, Type C is a hypnotic affair that streamlines immersion.

"Hypnotic" is such the perfect word for it. The other two tracks in the game (an ominous version of Tchaikovsky's Sugar Plum Fairy and an original Type B) emphasize a frantic, ever-shifting puzzle and are great for stressing me out, yet I found myself returning to this song again and again just so I could get lost in Tetris's clutches. Type C's mesmerizing melody is a gradual process -- as the blocks begin falling and the score counter rises, I slowly slip myself into a focused meditation. The score goes unnoticed, the blocks pile up without notice, and Game Overs are shrugged off as I tumble further and further into zen.

There's a quality here that reminds me of the silent arena in Kirby's Adventure; a certain isolated nostalgia that prods at my mind.  The song's a virtual unknown in the Nintendo music community, but how many children did it captivate? Youtube comments associate loving memories of Christmas lights and sleep and dreams, all qualities composing the purest of childhood reverie. Tetris may have eluded my boyhood self, but listening to Type C resurrects the sleepy Christmas nights of an age I could only dream of.

Conclusion: I really need to get back into Tetris DS. That was rad.


You may have noticed I skipped a number in the title; actually, that's because I accidently did so in an earlier entry. Ahahaha.

1 comment:

  1. While Tetris as a whole never eluded me, I have never touched the Game Boy or NES versions, and indeed I have not played any version of the game in about four years now. As as much as I have always adored and remembered video game music, I couldn't hum any Tetris music even if a weapon was put to my head.

    And yet, I instantly understood Type C upon listening to it. The great thing I found was how the melody had a sense of progression even though it was on a loop, and how while it certainly fit falling blocks, it carried an intense yet pleasant nostalgic feel. The silent areas from Kirby's Adventure is right. The way the music moves sounds like it could fit a lot of Nintendo games, and yet fits this one even better, both in context and the right feelings it brings about it the player.

    I too love video game music (in fact I listen to little outside of it and film scores), so I'll keep up with this too. Except for that which makes cultural penetration, video game music has never gotten the due it really deserves, so on with posts like these!

    - Mike