Koichi Sugiyama, The “Big Boss” Of Video Game Music And Soul Of Dragon Quest


Koichi Sugiyama: The legendary composer who gave us some of the most remembered and influential themes in the history of video games has died at the age of 90 Koichi Sugiyama was born in Tokyo, on April 11, 1931 and in a home in which he was surrounded by music since his childhood, something that would direct his steps until graduating with honors from the University of Tokyo and entering the world of television as a step prior to concentrating on symphonic composition and conducting from ’68 on. When his path crossed with Enix’s in the ’80s, he was already a famous figure in his native country, with a remarkable production behind him spanning series, popular movies and songs. There was at that time, neither in Japan, nor in any other part of the world, a figure so recognized that he was interested in the limited musical capabilities of the video game.

In fact, at the headquarters of a humble pre-Dragon Quest Enix, it was very surprising to receive a questionnaire signed by such a famous composer, but the truth is that Sugiyama was a great fan of one of the studio’s titles: Morita Shogi, based on the famous board game informally known as “Japanese chess”. Members of Sugiyama’s family sent the questionnaire to the studio without his knowledge, and from the studio they were encouraged to contact him directly to inquire about his availability to compose music for his titles, to which he accepted.

He would start in 1985 with a title called World Golf for the computer, but it would take little time for him to lay the foundations of his legacy in the video game with the first Dragon Quest for the Famicom, for which he composed eight songs that form the soul, the heart and the essence of what the saga is and the memories it provokes in millions of players. Those eight songs (Opening, Castle, Town, Field, Dungeon, Battle, Final Battle, and Ending) have been covered, expanded, adapted or reinterpreted, but they have always been present in some way in all versions of the series to date. , becoming an indelible hallmark.

Although all iconic, Overture is the most famous and recognizable, a theme that is the history of video games because of its impact and connection with the saga, although according to him, it only took him five minutes to create it. Following a line of thought similar to that of Pablo Picasso in a similar context, Sugiyama pointed out that he had actually spent 40 years and five minutes, pointing out all the work and previous experience that had taken him to that point. Of course, from directing orchestras to composing thinking about the five channels of the 8-bit console, there was a universe away, which did not prevent the composer’s mastery and influences from coming out, creating a theme of clear classical descent that did not sound to nothing that would have been heard on a console at that time, with those unforgettable first chords that announce the dawn of a new hero and the beginning of the adventure.


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