Title Screen / Demo
"Title Screen / Demo" is an upbeat, short theme in 4/4 time at just under 128 bpm, in the key of G flat/F# major. Despite the 8-bit instrumentation imposed by the constraints of NES/Famicom hardware, the theme overwhelmingly evokes the ragtime style of piano music. Although the popularity of ragtime peaked at the turn of the 20th century, it is perfectly sensible and even expected for a Japanese video game's title theme to mimic a turn-of-the-century American musical style. Ragtime and its derivative musical styles like jazz were sufficiently prominent in the Japanese popular consciousness of the time to influence Ando as well as Ando's contemporaries like Nintendo's Koji Kondo. Aside from ragtime's general musical stature, both elevated directly through its mid-century revival and propagated indirectly through the evolution of subsequent musical genres, the style's popularity and ability to express a sense of fun and motion with limited instrumentation meshed well with the technical limitations of the video game hardware of the time.
"Title Screen / Demo" mimics a classic rag in miniature, with the structure incorporating a one-bar introduction followed by an AABB pattern using two four-bar themes.
- To begin with, the song starts with a rising 5th-6th-flat 7th-7th-high 5th intro, which plays on a ubiquitous musical phrase in early 20th century music, including rags but also vaudeville, music hall, and Broadway showtunes.
- The A theme emphasizes upwards melodic movements and mostly focuses on the tonic harmony for the first two bars, but executes an implied ii-V-I turnaround through the second two bars accompanied by downwards movement. The lead pulse waveform's attack/decay and duty cycle are tuned to mimic a plucked string instrument, almost resembling the banjo so common in ragtime's predecessor genres of blues and other African American folk music.
- The B theme features undulating and upwards melodic movements within each bar and focuses on more conventional harmonies, with a IV-I-V7-I progression in the first iteration and IV-I-V7-V progression in the second. The lead pulse channel's envelope and duty cycle becomes more even and the triangle wave channel harmonizes more prominently for a less aggressive sound overall.
Throughout the A and B themes, the rag-like melody is full of syncopation, grounded by a walking bass (although with slight syncopation that de-emphasizes the backbeats). Each of the A and B themes also features a melodic phrase in the first bar repeated with slight downwards modulation in the third bar, again in miniature mimicry of classic rag structure. Unlike any classic rag composition, "Title Screen / Demo" loops indefinitely, with the end of the B theme leading back into the A strain.
Kirby's Adventure / Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land
True to its name, this theme can be heard in the title screen and demo reel of Kirby's Adventure. It also plays during the gameplay demo after waiting on the title for a bit.
The theme reprises its role in the title screen for Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, remastered using new instruments which make use of compressed synths, steel drums, and whistles. This arrangement is named タイトル (Title) on The Very Best of Kirby: 52 Hit Tracks.
A simple B major arrangement of the theme serves as the game's staff credits theme.
Kirby's Toy Box
An arrangement of the theme, notably leaving out the last four bars of the melody (while the bass and percussion lines continue until the loop point), plays in the title screen theme of all mini-games except for Star Breaker. To date, the Kirby's Toy Box version is the only re-arrangement of the theme that doubles down on the plucked string-like character of the lead voice in the original Kirby's Adventure version, while versions in other games tend to soften the sound (with the exception of the Merry Magoland remix in Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe, which makes the lead aggressively electronic).
Kirby: Planet Robobot
The original version heard in Kirby's Adventure also reappears in the secret moon section of Stage 8 EX of Access Ark in Kirby: Planet Robobot. It can be found as Track 135 in the Jukebox. This title confirms for the first time that the song was composed by Hirokazu Ando.
Kirby's Blowout Blast
A new remix of the theme can be heard on the title screen for Kirby's Blowout Blast, named "A 3D Adventure! Kirby's Blowout Blast". This version slightly follows up from the remix in Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, but now makes use of more modern instrumentation. The song now features a new percussion line combined with the use of conga drums and crash cymbals. In addition, a short jingle based on the theme plays on the HOME menu when hovering over the game's icon.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe
In Merry Magoland, an electronic dance remix of this theme plays at the title screen for the Egg Catcher minigame representing Kirby's Adventure. The original version is unlockable as a secret song after clearing all Egg Catcher missions.
"Title Screen / Demo" is included on the Kirby's Adventure soundtrack and is featured as part of a medley in the vocal track "Kirby of the Stars", though it serves as an instrumental portion.
When selecting the Other Games or Past Adventures option in a Nintendo Switch Kirby game starting with Super Kirby Clash or in Kirby Battle Royale, the Kirby's Blowout Blast version of this theme can be heard when selecting said title.
The theme was also performed as part of the Kirby Through the Years: 1993-2004 medley in the Kirby 30th Anniversary Music Festival, along with "Drawing Song", "Grass Land" from Kirby's Dream Land 2, "Peanut Plains", "Candy Mountain", "The Last Iceberg", "Heading for 0²", and "Ending" from Kirby & The Amazing Mirror.
Names in other languages
Taitoru Gamen / Demo
タイトル (Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land)
|Title Screen / Demo
Title (Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land)
- Kirby: Planet Robobot Jukebox
- "I also listen to jazz, fusion, and techno on occasion, but not really as a dedicated fan. As for favorite artists, [...] I like French composers like Debussy and Ravel for classical music [...] For jazz and fusion, I listen to people like Herbie Hancock, Gary Burton, and Egberto Gismonti. I also have heartfelt respect for the jazz pianists Makoto Ozone and Satoru Shionoya." The Music Of Kirby: Still Tickling Gamers Pink, Forbes (Q&A between Ando and freelance writer Darryn King; Wayback Machine snapshot).
- "渡辺貞夫さんもエレクトーンの教材にあって、すごく楽しい曲で覚えやすい曲だな、良い感じだなと思って、カリフォルニアシャワーとか。他にアート・ブレイキーとかマイルス・デイビスとか、MJQ（モダン・ジャズ・カルテット）とか、もろジャズみたいなものを聞いていましたね。" ”スーパーマリオ音楽”制作秘話～名古屋出身・近藤浩治さん～ (Behind the music of Super Mario ~ Mr Koji Kondo, from Nagoya), NHK Nagoya (Wayback Machine snapshot). Translation: Mr Sadao Watanabe's Electone course materials had a lot of fun and memorable compositions that I felt were pleasant—California Shower, for example. In addition, Art Blakey, Miles Davis, the Modern Jazz Quartet—I listened to a lot of jazz and things like that.
- Note that Kondo mentions an Electone course in relation to Watanabe, likely related to the fact that Watanabe (in addition to marked contributions to Japanese jazz and fusion in general) was deeply involved in the creation of Yamaha's music education system, with one chapter of his autobiography (Webcat Plus entry; Wayback Machine snapshot) titled ヤマハ音楽教室の誕生 (The Birth of the Yamaha Music Classrooms). Yamaha still operates courses for its Electone electric organs (its adult courses now covering everything from classical and jazz to video game music), and "California Shower" (the title track of a 1978 album) still features in at least one Electone songbook sold by Yamaha (Wayback Machine snapshot).
- In turn, Kondo's compositions for the Mario series contain significant jazz influences in elements traceable all the way back to ragtime music, as in the "Ground Theme" from Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario World's Athletic Theme. In addition, one of Kondo's favorite soundtracks outside of his own creations is Nobuyuki Ohnogi's soundtrack to the Namco arcade game Mappy, another example of a 1980s video game soundtrack with prominent ragtime influences (see, for example, notes from the Video Game Music Preservation Foundation): "IGN: What are your three favorite pieces of music? [...] Kondo: [...] For music that I didn’t create, I’d say the main theme music for Dragon Quest, the main theme for Wii U Super Smash Bros., and the music from Mappy, an old Namco game." A Music Trivia Tour with Nintendo's Koji Kondo, IGN (Wayback Machine snapshot).
- Ragtime music experienced numerous revivals after its initial decline in popularity past the turn of the century. A revival in the 1970s occurred when Scott Joplin's music resurfaced in the popular consciousness, through a critically and commercially successful album of Piano Rags by Scott Joplin and the prominent use of Joplin's rags in the soundtrack of the 1973 film The Sting. The genre's return to prominence allowed for the use of ragtime music in video games of the 1980s and 1990s: for instance, the Video Game Music Preservation Foundation catalogues numerous uses of Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" and "The Entertainer".
- Ragtime's initial decline only came due to the rise of the jazz music that it had directly influenced, as ragtime led directly to stride and other jazz piano styles. In turn, jazz had continued to evolve through subgenres like hard bop and soul jazz, styles that placed emphasis on the bluesy roots of jazz with simplified rhythms, chords, and melodies. (Wikipedia's reference for the simplified nature of hard bop in particular is Carnegie Hall's Timeline of African American Music.) For instance, the jazz artists that Kondo lists—Miles Davis, Art Blakey, and Sadao Watanabe—all involved themselves with hard bop (with Davis and Watanabe later also embracing jazz fusion), as did one of Ando's favorite jazz musicians, Herbie Hancock. Ragtime also influenced some classical music, including a number of short pieces by one of Ando's favorite classical musicians, Claude Debussy.
- Euday Bowman's Twelfth Street Rag, for example, uses a variation of this phrase to kick off the final quarter or so of the rag (see the end of page 4 of the IMSLP's copy of the rag; Wayback Machine archive of score PDF). The Howard and Emerson rag "Hello! Ma Baby" also features a version of this phrase in its introduction (in the third and fourth full bars—see, e.g., page 3 of this score book).
- The wide use in turn-of-the-century music results in a wide range of names for the phrase, which include:
- the "Minsky pickup" as asserted by the TV Tropes wiki based on an AudioSparx stock music library listing (Wayback Machine snapshot), apparently after the racy stage shows of Minsky's Burlesque;
- the "Cockney intro" as in British comedian Bill Bailey's routines—see, for example, Episode 5 of Is It Bill Bailey? (Wayback Machine archive; "you got your basic Cockney intro [...]", 10:40-45—in reference to archetypal working class Cockney show personas featured in Victorian music halls that influenced subsequent novelty and comic music acts in 20th century variety;
- and the "Schubert" (possibly a misspelling of the name of the Shubert family, which founded the Shubert Organization that owned and still owns numerous Broadway theatres) according to Dick Hyman (page 50, 500 Piano Intros for the Great Standards, The Steinway Library of Piano Music; Wayback Machine archive of image; via Reddit).
- "Kirby's Blowout Blast: Go, Kirby!" Nintendo 3DS Theme
- Kirby's Adventure
- Kirby 30th Anniversary Music Festival pamphlet (Internet Archive copy; direct image link)