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Why does the Sonic 1 & 2 victory theme sound so depressing

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I've always wondered this; from the very first moment I heard it back in the early 1990s.  There were probably other games at the time that had their victory themes in a minor key, but none I can recall playing and certainly none with a mostly upbeat tone like Sonic The Hedgehog.  That sort of ending music would make sense if it came in a scenario wherein the hero won a victory, but at a cost, or without any reason to believe there would be more victories.  

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but to me it seems hard to fathom why a composer wouldn't make a victory theme sound happy unless there was some other factor besides it being a victim theme.

Really, though, I might just be whistling in the dark.  I'd like an answer but if nobody has one this is just something to think about.  Either way, I'm happy the theme was replaced Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

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...it's not exactly the perkiest tune but I struggle to see how it can be interpreted as "depressing". I don't know shit about music so I can't really analyze it much, but it feels like a brief buildup to a triumphant flourish, with a bit of Genesis grunginess to it.

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You mean this right?

I wouldn't say it sounds depressing, it's just a crescendo into one final note. It's probably the lingering on that last note combined with the Genesis' sound card that makes it sound haunting, if that's a way to describe it.

Nowadays I mostly hear it used in parodies of Sonic if I'm not replaying the first two games.

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To be honest, I actually prefer it to the one that's used since Sonic 3 and Knuckles (not that I dislike that level complete theme, its also great). Feels like its got a "Good job, we cleared the stage, but there's still a long way to go till the end" vibe going for it. 

It sounds cool. However, this might just be nostalgia.

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15 hours ago, Osmium said:

Honestly I think this victory theme is way better than the S3K one and I wish they stuck with it. This is obviously a subjective matter but I don't think it's depressing at all. 

Agreed, although I think Sega has mainly stuck with the S3K jingle, because the S1/S2 jingle is likely composed by Masato Nakamura and Sega (like most tracks from S1 and S2) may have to pay royalties to use it.

Speaking of the 3&K theme, it's kind of surprising how that jingle is literally one of the very few things that has been consistently been re-used and/or remixed with the mainline Sonic titles; even with the introduction of the 3D games. It's only with the advent of Unleashed did they start using different different victory themes for each game (although Sonic 4, Generations and Mania had 3&K remixes for obvious reasons).

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Played a lot of Sonic 2 on Genesis. So this level clear theme is particularly nostalgic to me. 

Though, objectively I think that Sonic 3&K's is better, I'm also torn because of the feels I get from the original level clear theme.

Perhaps it is better this way; after all, since 3&K's has been remade and reused soooo much, it doesn't generate any nostalgic feelings at all for me.

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Maybe the original music is one thing, but I don't anything like that when I listen to Tee Lopes interpretation of the jingle:

His overlaid octaves and signature brass further brings out the feeling of "Sonic Saves The Day Again," though for a different preservative, I can see how the last note being held out then echoing away can be somewhat unnerving.

One thing I like about the theme as a whole is that the ending goes very well the sounds of the level score being tallied and the "Ka-ching" when it's done. (Assuming you don't have a massive score that will drown the theme out with the 1-UP jingle)

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I'd like to get what you mean, but it doesn't sound particularly depressing to me. Maybe just my ignorance.

I do find the boss theme in Sonic 1 strangely menacing though, considering it's against the comical Eggman.

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Honestly I like both the Sonic 1 and the Sonic 3 level jingle, and I also like the Sonic Advance jingle and all its variation in the sub-series.

On the other hand, I don't like the US Sonic CD one, it sounds like a bad fan remix of the Sonic 3 one (even though it's probably older).

None of them sound "depressing" to me anyway, but I agree that the Sonic 1 one has a different mood compared to the other ones.

Anyway, I'd prefer if they don't stuck with a victory theme, instead I'd prefer if they create new victory themes for each new game that's not a direct sequel (not a "2" game).

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Y'know, I felt something similar when listening to that old theme, but it's only recently that I realized why - and it involves a bit of basic music theory.

The reason the end of the song seems particularly unsettling is that it ends on a suspended chord. When you play a chord, you typically play the first, third, and fifth notes of the scale of that chord (e.g. a C chord has you playing the notes C, E and G). However, a suspended chord changes the middle note being played; either the second note or the fourth note (going back to the C chord, a C suspended chord can be played as C, D and G or C, F and G). What this does is create a dissonance in the music that you would normally resolve by playing the same chord but with the middle note either pulled up or pulled down to the third note (e.g. going from C/F/G to C/E/G).

But what makes the level complete theme sound depressing or 'off' is that the suspended chord isn't resolved. The song ends without any resolution, which loses that innate feeling of satisfaction that the listener expects from hearing the dissonance be resolved (this isn't to say the song is bad for making the listener feel unsatisfied; that's just as valid a feeling to leave them with as any feeling the composer wishes to express when writing a song). I can't say for certain whether Masato Nakamura intended for the song to end on what can be perceived as a depressing note, but I like the idea that he might have been trying to musically convey the feeling of "you've gotten through this level, but the journey's far from over" by having the song be as unresolved as your progress in the game. It's worth considering, if nothing else.

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I think it's the complete opposite. the zone clear theme in sonic 1 is celebratory, upbeat, and most importantly, memorable. just like the majority of the music in the game (except robotnik's theme). even labyrinth and scrap brain have sections of optimism in them. in fact, the one that is flat out depressing is marble zone. they're all melodic as a whole though.

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