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Sonic the Hedgehog – “Green Hill Zone” (Masato Nakamura)

October 12, 2010

I haven’t done many Sonic tunes, mainly because I never was a Sonic kind of guy. This is not to say that the series has never produced any music worthy of note; rather, it is an admission of my unfamiliarity with the series. This said, one of the most endearing (and enduring) themes is the Stage 1 theme from Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), the first game, “Green Hill Zone.”

Sonic the Hedgehog – “Green Hill Zone” (Masato Nakamura)

“Green Hill Zone” is immediately memorable, from the opening section to the wistful, nostalgic strings of the main melody. The theme recalls rolling hills of green, cool winds; a perfect paradise that seems possible only within virtual space. Though the loop is only 40 seconds long, with a 14 second intro, the short melody uses repetition and call and response of the twinkling notes to create that sense of the ideal. “Green Hill Zone” is thus not so much music for intense action as it is music to relax to – a space to sit back and enjoy at your leisure.

There have been several mixes, one of my favorites being DarkeSword and Sixto Sounds’ “Metamorphic Rock“. Gotta love Sixto’s guitar coupled with Darke’s synths. Also, Video Games Live does a wonderful orchestral version of the theme which hasn’t been put on CD yet, so the best you’ll hear is if you go in person… Otherwise, the orchestration is excellent, particularly with the use of flute over the Genesis sound system.

The track’s composer, Masato Nakamura, producing the soundtrack for the first two games in the Sonic series. He has also produced singles for Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and also did work on Final Fantasy VIII. However, he mostly produces music for his wistfully-named band Dreams Come True. Interestingly, his band holds the copyright for the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 soundtrack, a rarity in game music. Oh yeah, he keeps a live journal.

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