The music for MOTHER
was a real monster.
Suzuki~Tanaka~Itoi discussion
In the players' hearts, the music for the MOTHER series can not be separated from the game. Here, you'll get all sorts of details and secrets about Suzuki's and Tanaka's collective work. At first, it may appear as something usual, but the music for these games actually was a real monster! It's hard to describe how it matured.

Shigesato Itoi
The person behind
who then created the Hobonichi
He also is the only able Saturnian
translator in the world.
Hirokazu Tanaka
Composer for MOTHER
and MOTHER2.
He has worked for Nintendo and currently is the
president of Creatures. Not
everybody acts the same around him.
Keiichi Suzuki
Composer for MOTHER
and MOTHER2.
He is the leader of
an indie band called
Recently, he has worked on movie
soundtracks as well.

Side Story
From: The MOTHER team

Why have we always thought that "the music for MOTHER was a real monster"?

Anyway, we're all glad to know our work was not regarded as only something intended for children.

The series' legacy goes on, so here is a small gift to you from us three adults.

Here, both Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka have made their recommandations on CDs that may strike a chord for those who loved the MOTHER series' music. Don't miss it!

This article isn't limited purely to music. The main figure behind the MOTHER series, Shigesato Itoi, also has received a message, which is presented in the form a mail exchange here. You should really read it, it's very meaningful!

Itfs only a few more days until the release of MOTHER1+2. Here are some gifts from MOTHERfs music team to all you fans anxiously awaiting.

From: Keiichi Suzuki
To: "MOTHER" fans

"If you listen to these albums,
could MOTHER become more
interesting?" Album 5(+) Selection.

(Wefve linked the jacket images to an
online shop for albums still on sale.)

John Lennon
Plastic Ono Band

When I heard Itoi was making a game called MOTHER, this album popped into my mind right away. The sounds are shaved down to perfection with nothing in excess. Video game music requires a stripped-down sound, so this album brought me encouragement.

The Beach Boys
Smily Smile

I thought about listing Smile, which hadnft been completed at the time. But instead of using an unreleased legendary album, Ifll tout this album that was properly on sale, for what itfs worth, and forced the fragments of Smile into an arrangement. Itfs a really mysterious album thatfs packed with the brightness and darkness of America and is almost completely void of drums. The percussion techniques on this album had an enormous impact on the game.

Van Dyke Parks
Song Cycle

Van Dyke Parks tried to collaborate with Brian Wilson on Smile, which ultimately ended in failure. This was his first album, released afterward. It, too, was considered a massive failure. It features American humor, a hazy sound, and a touch of Ray Bradbury. That style was key when I was making the music for MOTHER. I think Warnerfs Burbank sound was making music that represented late 60fs West Coast America. Randy Newman too.

Andy Partridge@
Mr. Partridge: Take Away
         / The Lure of Salvage

Andy Partridge from XTC released this first solo album of his in 1980. He didnft release another solo album for 22 years. The dub-like processing of the sound and its experimentality, coupled with Hipfs interest in dub, are really present in the games.

Godley & Creme

Lol Creme and Kevin Godley released this first album as a studio experiment upon the duofs departure from the band 10cc. There was a three-cassette set (two-CD set). It used a masterpiece called a Gizmotron, a device that would rub against guitar strings to create a continuous sound. Sarah Vaughan sings Lost Weekend, on here, with a jazzy tone. I wanted to get that feeling across in the game. Itfs an incredible idea to recreate the sound of an orchestra by rubbing the strings of an electric guitar, but it was a sound that was actually quite close to what the resources were for in-game music at the time. John Lennonfs time spent separated from Yoko was called the "Lost Weekend", wasnft it? The era of the Lost Weekend. Lennon getting drunk with Harry Nillson on the west coast. Speaking of Nillson, therefs Nillson Sings Newman.

An album of Nillson singing nothing but Randy Newman songs. Itfs a good album.

Ray Millandfs performance as an alcoholic in the film The Lost Weekend is great, and Miklos Rozsafs music is chilling. Now Ifm just going to derail this more and more, so for now I bid you ciao.

Keiichi Suzuki

From: Hirokazu Tanaka
To: "MOTHER" fans

"Generally speaking, here are artists
and bands that made their way into
MOTHER music. Ifm sorry I couldnft
limit it to five!"

I listed things that were recorded before MOTHER2 (1994).
I donft mean to sound like some kind of recommendation placed at the storefront of some foreign CD shop playing samples.
Also, Ifm not writing specifically to readers... (Sometimes I think that makes it easier to listen to me (laughs))
Just think of it as my thinking out loud, and this as strictly personal opinion.
From the game producersf perspective, I might be seen as a professional musician, but when Ifm in a position where I need to talk about what Ifve made, Ifm painfully aware now of how much of a loss Ifm at.

(Wefve linked the jacket images to an
online shop for albums still on sale.)

yBefore MOTHERz

Randy Newman
Little Criminals
Randy Newman
Land of Dreams

It was when we first started production, after I had a meeting with Itoi about MOTHER. There were several key words like America, house-lined streets from E.T., stuff like that. The first artist who came to mind was Randy Newman, the American singer-songwriter. More recently hefs worked on movies like Toy Story and Monsters, Inc.

There are a few songs, like Short People from the album Little Criminals, I Want You to Hurt Like I Do from the album Land of Dreams... I donft really know any English, though (laughs). Ahh, I wonder what kind of impression theyfd have on me if I listened to them as an English-speaker. Either way, the lyrics are unique. I especially love the chord progression and the arrangements. Itfs really deep. And vast. I really admire it. Towards the beginning, I felt very strongly that I wanted to put this kind of sound-world at the heart of MOTHER.

Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson

The Beach Boys came up a lot in our earlier discussions, but herefs Brian Wilsonfs solo album. I listened to this CD a lot when I was on my way to visit Keiichi at home in Setagaya during MOTHERfs production. If I arrived a little early, Ifd wander around the area listening to it. Personally, I think of MOTHER when I listen to this album. Especially:
1) Love and Mercy
3) Melt Away
4) Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long
7) Therefs So Many
His songwriting seems pretty normal at first, but... I canft really explain it. When you really understand a poem, it just gets to you. Hmm... I canft write this out objectively.

(Therefs a new Deluxe Edition out with demo songs in it. And itfs just... Mm!)

Mr. Mick

There are a lot of bands that emit the fragrance of the Beatles, and this is one of them. Theyfre from England. They might not be very well-known, though. Itfs just by chance that Ifm listing their last album, because I also like their first, second and third albums. Their third album is often named as their representative work, and itfs produced by George Martin (who also produced for the Beatles). It might not come across this way, but a lot of the tastes of this band influenced MOTHERfs music.

Their early work has the flair of British trad jazz. British folk songs and Irish Celtic music hold a special place in my heart. That kind of music has a sort of sad feel to it; itfs heartrending in a really MOTHER-like way. If you want to discover more British trad and Celtic music, The Chieftains are a nice introduction to it.

Weather Report
Return to Forever
    featuring Chick Corea
No Mystery

Now Ifm going to jump to another genre. These had a big influence on the parts that werenft an actual song-melody. In a CD shop theyfd be in the jazz section, but itfs not 4-beat jazz. Itfs just a live performance.

I can see someone questioning what in 8:30 could possibly be related to MOTHER. Itfs whatfs going on besides the improvised performances of the members. Dissonance, noise (percussion instruments), filling in the space on top of the rhythm... those parts. A Remark You Made is just beautiful! What Ifd like for people to really focus on is the tone and the technique of Joe Zawinulfs keyboard. Itfs very reminiscent of MOTHER. Personally, this is what got me started on Latin music, African music, Brazilian music, and free jazz. I meant to list their first one, but since therefs a nuance of "Best Of" here, I chose this one.

Return to Forever is the band of jazz pianist Chick Corea (I was a high schooler at the time). It has heavy rock elements to it. I was deeply influenced by the chord progression and the chord voicing, not to mention the drum and bass combination. Itfs about the blend of sounds together. In Japan people often said that this kind of music was too absorbed with technique, and that there wasnft any soul to it. I was always really put off by the Japanese media saying that, because I found it so lively and entertaining.

Note: "Chord voicing" is the layering of sounds. Chord C is generally gDo Me Soh but chord voicing says that gMe Do Soh is also acceptable.

Yabby U@
King Tubby's Prophesy of Dub
The Flying Lizards
The Secret Dub Life
    of The Flying Lizards

Here he is, Reggae Man! What first drew me to reggae was the fact that a single song could have such a disparity in lyrics, and when a song would get popular, only three days later a parody of it would be on the market! And no one would say, "Oh that sneak, thatfs my song!" Even if the performance was the same, even if the melody was the same, if you sing it, then itfs you! If he sings it, then itfs him! It was tough! It was rough! I liked that feeling. The hole in the record was off-center, or therefd be crap wedged into the grooves, but it wasnft an accident, all of us who allowed that were in love with the music that was born from those circumstances. It felt really... positive. Reassuring. And from that, the dub mix technique was born.

DUB is, simply put, removing the vocals from a reggae song (like karaoke, here itfs called a "version"), inserting or removing different musical instruments, and processing the sound with either echo or reverb. King Tubbyfs Prophesy of Dub is traditional Jamaican dub. The mix is by King Tubby. There are no rules to mixing music. A person controls a machine to make a sound that is a direct reflection of human emotion and sensation, surpassing the original song! The listener is fiercely shaken up. So primitive!! And dubfs love for bass and low sounds comes from reggae.

The Secret Dub Life of The Flying Lizards is a dub album by David Cunningham. He was born in Ireland and formed the Flying Lizards in 1979. [sic] I loved how they paid no mind to existing music and just created music from totally liberated ideas. Cunningham is also a producer of Michael Nyman, who arranged Eight Melodies on the MOTHER CD. I always buy albums that hefs collaborated on, and hefs influenced me a great deal. Itfs all over MOTHER2.

yBefore MOTHER2z

Prince & The Revolution
Around the World
@ in a Day

Sign o' the Times

He may not have much of a presence nowadays, but Prince blended musical genres together. In a way, MOTHER did, too. I like his moves, it was like watching a monkey when I saw him on video. His level of concentration and the instantaneous force he held when diving into music-making was incredible. Therefs not an explicit feel of funk in the game, but once in a while itfll show its face through the bass phrases and rhythm. If you feel a little fun-kay! when youfre playing MOTHER, thatfs why.

It pains me that the music of African American artists who musically inspired Prince, James Brown, Larry Graham, Sly Stone, is only half-captured when listening on a CD (Well, this could be said for other music too, I guess). The surge of these polyrythms are, individually, relatively simple. Which is why the energy of the person making the music, their body movements, each has a meaning. I want to focus on that. You canft just rely on your ears.

Lalo Rodriguez
Un Nuevo Despertar
Lalo con Machito y Su Orquesta

Ifve got a lot of salsa CDs, but herefs Puerto Rican-born Lalo Rodriguez! Itfs probably not a very standard choice. (laughs) Either way, itfs soooo good! Ifm captivated by it. The live performance is incredible. Salsafs roots are in Cuban music, and it was born in New York. On one hand, I love minimalistic electronic music, but Ifm also crazy about this kind of gcommon manfsh music through which I can feel a performerfs sweat and lifestyle (These two genres are probably generally seen as being quite disparate, though). Anyway, itfs dynamic. Seeing it live will blow your mind. The rhythm swells, and you start feeling like you never want it to end. Salsa: itfs Entertainment! The bandmaster splices the time, and hefs always watching the audience. Watching... not with his eyes, but with his body. He seems thrilled when the audience responds.
"Alright, next Ifm puttinf it in Top Gear."
"Can you keep up?"
"Thatfs it, thatfs it!"
"Wefll cool down a bit here"
Stuff like that. He does it without saying a word. Therefs never a self-torturing breakdown like there is in rock. It seems to be coming on, but then they come right back. They genuinely bring the party to the room. Therefs no ego to be seen.

But the reason this music came to be was, and this is the same for reggae, but, itfs the social environment at the time, the historical landscape that had a huge influence on the birth of that music. Poverty. Discrimination. Thatfs exactly why itfs brimming with so much energy. Lately you donft hear it anywhere but in a dance school at some cultural center (Donft get me wrong, I know there are a lot of salsa fans). Ifm well-aware that I encountered salsa at a good time. Coming across music is all about timing. Music is alive!

MOTHER2 has a hint of salsa to Fourside and the scenes with the photographer.

A Tribe Called Quest
People's Instinctive Travels
and the Paths of Rhythm

This is hip hop. Their name means [Japanese translation]?! (laughs) Theyfre really cool. The way they choose to loop their break beats, their use of sounds, and their rapping, itfs all so cool! Theyfve got a different vibe to them than other hip hop artists. To tell the truth, this CD has a track that shares a tiny little secret with a track in MOTHER. But it is a secret. Do you know it?? Itfs embarrassing to admit it, but I, too, went out clubbing at night back in the day. The music that barked in the walls of those places and the texture of the sounds influenced the battle and dungeon music.

Back then, there also were Jungle Brothers!@De La Soul!

My Bloody Valentine

Known in Japan as "MyBlo", theyfve got this guitar playing constant, unstable, mixed noise, almost like a racket, lyrics that seem to fade away, and a pounding rhythm. I love it I love it I love it. Even now Ifm still on the hunt for hands that try to imitate their sound. The "flickering" quality of MOTHER2fs music was largely influenced by this band. As was "Itoifs Late Night Keyboard". And Giyg.

Coming across MyBlo and Nirvana had a big effect on me. Itfs not at all that they got me listening to loud, distorted rock. If I had my own personal music history, itfd be labeled "Pre-Nirvana" and "Post-Nirvana". Thatfs how symbolic Kurt Cobain is. Hefs the drum smash at the start of my song.

These drums that starts at the eighth bar in the battle with Porky is a mini-Nirvana explosion!

Frank Zappa
Make a Jazz Noise Here

Mmm, Frank Zappa. Ifve got to choose my words wisely... Which is why I was torn whether to include him or not. This two-disc album compiles live performances. Theyfre super intense. And as the album title states, there are a lot of jazz-like arrangements. I wouldnft know how to answer where in MOTHER2 it is, though. Imagine an Italian-food loving sushi chef eating Chinese food with an Eskimo family in Alaska while they talk about Indian food.

There are no walls between musical genres, there are no preestablished harmoniesc itfs like a firework exploding in the sky. Just a flood of sound pouring out!

If I could have someone perform a live arrangement of a motif based on original melodies like the MOTHER2 title music or cast roll at the end of the game with the tune switched up, if Zappa were still alive?Ifd absolutely love to ask him and his band arrange and perform those two songs. If course, Ifd be at the rehearsals to watch, and Ifd be in the second or third row from the front to enjoy the performance...

Various artists
Wired Magazine Presents:
Music Futurists

This is a compilation of music that was gathered from a DJ-like point of view (but not in the dance genre). It isnft about each individual song, but the selection of artists. At first glance, the artists seem all over the place, but theyfre connected here. That sense of bundling all kinds of materials and music in MOTHER and MOTHER2 feels very similar to this albumfs songs, its selection of artists. Itfs so MOTHER-like! Look at these members!!
Esquivel / Sun Ra / Steve Reich / Can / Todd Rundgren / Brian Eno / Devo / Tangerine Dream / Laurie Anderson / Thomas Dolby / Godley & Creme / Sonic Youth / Beck / DJ Spooky / Ben Neill
(Keiichi would probably understand what I mean...)

The last song on the album is Ben Neill singing a cover of Neil Youngfs song, After the Gold Rush. And he does it in ambient style!

Then therefs Hal Willnerfs job.

Hal Willner
Lost in the Stars
@@ The Music of Kurt Wei

Hal Wilner
   Various Interpretations
   of Music from Vintage
   Disney Films

Hefs not a musician, hefs a producer. The albums Ifm listing here are, respectively, Kurt Weill and Walt Disneyfs tribute albums. Hefs made several other compilation albums, too. The point is, he chooses artists well. Itfs extraordinary. I want to call this MOTHER-like, too. No, I want the honor of being allowed to call it that. No, I want to beg for the honor of calling it that just one single time.

Now, the main people involved in Lost in the Stars The Music of Kurt Weill are Sting and Dominic Muldowney, The Fowler Brothers, Marianne Faithfull & Chris Spedding, Van Dyke Parks, John Zorn, Lou Reed, Carla Bley & Phil Woods, Tom Waits, Eliot Sharp, Dagmar Krause, Todd Rundgren & Gary Windo, Charlie Haden & Sharon Freeman, etc.
Stay Awake features Bill Frisell & Wayne Horvitz, Michael Stipe, Los Lobos, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Waits, Suzanne Vega, Syd Straw, Aaron Neville, Betty Carter, Sinead O'Conner, Sun Ra, Harry Nilsson, James Taylor, Ringo Starr, etc.

Mmm-mm! Look at all that! There are others, but these two albums are fun.

I was really stuck on Stay Awake when MOTHER2 was in development.

And last but not least, one I cannot leave out of the list.

Sentimental Toori

This is what introduced me to Keiichi Suzuki. I was in 8th grade. Whenever Ifd pull an all-nighter, dawn would come and Ifd be listening to this album. There isnft a single bad song! The lyrics and the sound would just soak into me. Itfs best if you listen to the album straight through! The melody is so fascinating that even after Ifve finished listening to it, I feel emotional. Thatfs the kind of melody that MOTHER and MOTHER2 inherited.

The melodies of the monkey grotto in MOTHER and the Mr. Saturn theme song in MOTHER2 have this unexplainable bizarreness to them that can only come from Keiichi. (laughs) The MOTHER soundtrack is incredible. I love how easy-going the Flying Man song is, which he sang with Louis Philippe.

Phewww... That's it.

Hirokazu Tanaka

A mail from Suzuki after
@  reading Tanaka's list

Subject: You got me!
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003 12:37:11 +0900
From: Keiichi Suzuki

Wow, Hip! Just by seeing
I Want You to Hurt Like I Do
on your list, I know why we
were able to make such good
music together. Stackridge, too.
I wish we could have gone
to the London Recording together.

K E I I C H I @S U Z U K I

From: Shigesato Itoi
To: MOTHER fans

Hello, this is my first time mailing you.
I heard on this website that MOTHER1+2 was going to be released and am really excited for June.
I love Mr. Saturn, so Ifm thrilled to see him again.
Please allow me to discreetly let out something thatfs been on my mind ever since playing MOTHER and MOTHER2.
I read your reader column about MOTHER and got sad when I thought back on how central gsoundh is to the game.
Of course, I feel deeply attached to the MOTHER1+2 game. When I read your interview about the game, I got so excited when I read about all the things I remembered.
I thought back on when I was playing through the game, and I excitedly wrote to an old MOTHER-fan friend of mine for the first time in years, rattling off about what an incredible game MOTHER is.
And at the same time, those sad feelings came back, and here I am, unable to rest until I send you this e-mail.
If you ever have another article about MOTHER again, Itoi-san, can you explain what "sound" is to the game?
I realize how selfish this is of me to ask.
But you see, Ifm deaf, and whenever I would reach a scene when the sound stone would record something, I would get depressed.
It was hard enough to see the (Click! Beep-beep-beep...)
Ifm sorry, this turned into just an e-mail of personal feelings.
When youfre done reading this, feel free to throw it away.
And please forgive me for sending it.
Either way, itfs true that I love MOTHER.
Thank you for reading this until the end.

yAudio MOTHERz

Ifm deeply grateful that youfve enjoyed MOTHER and MOTHER2.
First Ifll answer your question on how I see sound in my games.
Ifve said this several times in the past, but MOTHER and MOTHER2 treat audio information more importantly than most games.
Information communicated through sound was important in giving us the power to appeal to emotion more than logic and the power to instantly conjure up certain imagery.
Thatfs all I have to answer your specific question, but there was one more:
What does a game that pours so much energy into audio information mean to someone with no sense of hearing?
Ifd like to write some of my personal thoughts on the matter.

First, letfs look at this from the opposite direction.
What a deaf person feels towards MOTHER is something that a person with a sense of hearing will never be able to experience.
I think you could put it that way, too.

Of course, the creators and I filled the game with audio information.
Most people have accepted that and enjoyed the game.
But there are probably others who didnft pay any attention to the music or the sounds, anyway.
Still others may have had a hard time grasping what was on the screen because they can hear, but they canft see.
In the same way, if you take it even further, someone from France might make a game for French people, and even if we Japanese accept it, we wonft be able to grasp as many things as those who grew up in French culture.
Same goes the other way.

So thinking about it that way, if you work from the intention of communicating things to every single person out there, youfll get stuck.
At one point, I decided to give every ounce of what I had.
A puppy running in circles is very cute, but a person who canft use their legs would have a hard time taking it on a walk.
A baby will cry to its mother to be breastfed even if the mother has a cold and a high temperature.
That puppy and that baby can only live by exerting their own power to the limit.
And I thought to myself that when I make something, itfs better for me to do so while living as best I can.

Do things as best as you can.
I think the answer to this is what people are doing.

People canft internalize every bit of information out there in the world, and they canft live forever, either.
But if each person lives his or her life as a cycle of sending and receiving to the very best of their abilities, I think everyone can come to feel the joy of what it means to be alive.
Of course, the desire to communicate with more people and more things is already somewhere inside our "best-we-can" selves.
Itfd be best if people could see that desire when we exerted ourselves to our own limits.

The world of MOTHER that you personally felt, katan, is a world that is inside of you and you alone.
Please cherish it.
I pray that you will find yourself able to do your very best every day.

(Click! Beep-beep-beep...)

Shigesato Itoi

For information about the
MOTHER1+2 soundtrack,
click here!

Released on June 20
I'll be attending the
launch event!

Click here for more details!

table of contents

If you're looking for MOTHER
content, everything is here.


The online shops below
are confirmed for order.
Get a Mr. Saturn strap
with your purchase.

If you want to send your thoughts or encouragement,
Please send a mail with "MOTHER music" in the title
to the address.