I've been sharing and armchair=analyzing my favorite video game music for a while, but if you want to read analysis that's operating on a much higher level, head over to Cruise Elroy, a blog where game music is plucked apart through the eyes of a music theory aficionado. Prepare to be impressed with studies of the soundtracks from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Sonic the Hedgehog, & Mother 3; Nintendo composer Koji Kondo's favorite cadence; and the surprisingly detailed transitional portion of the Ocarina of Time medley from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
There are actually references to three additional Ocarina songs embedded in this ten-second sample. Let’s dig them out.
First is the coda from “Minuet of Forest”: Compare 0:08 in “Minuet” with the beginning of the transition section above; the melody from measures 5-6 is played twice. You may notice that the second instance is higher in pitch than the first; this is what music theorists call a sequence.
The second piece is “Bolero of Fire”: Compare 0:05 in the transition above to the opening motive in “Bolero.” The context is different and the specific intervals have changed; however, the piece is still identifiable because it maintains the same melodic contour and is similarly sequential.
The third reference involves that quick piano snippet at 0:09 — it’s a passing allusion to the piano ostinato in the Ocarina boss battle theme: The medley ups the tempo significantly, but the allusion is unmistakable — both feature the same chromatic descent, in the same range, on the same instrument.
Every example is backed up with a sound snippet and sheet music perfect for following along at home. Never let anyone tell you that game soundtracks cannot be musically interesting or creative.