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Sega Melodies

The famous intro sound of the 16-bit Sega Genesis, which I assume is a choir of Japanese dudes with the most lovely singing voices in the world.

What we have here is an interval of a minor third between two major chords: Eb Major to a C Major sung in parallel harmony. The chords appear in second inversion with the lowest voice singing the fifth. There is a synth bass rounding out the chord by playing the root notes: Eb to C.

The “Se-ga” chant first appeared on TV commercials, and was used in the game Sonic The Hedgehog. According to the lead programmer Yuji Naka, the wav file for the sample took up 1/8 of the 4MB cartridge space, and replaced a scrapped animation sequence of Sonic break-dancing. Back in 1991, when you started up this game, and this hi-fi human sound came on, it was like the arcade had finally come home. Machines weren’t just talking, bleepily-bloopily, for now they could sing.

The original radio-style bumper of “Se-ga” was eventually replaced by another earworm, the “Sega Scream”, performed in a duplet of Concert A’s.

It’s hard to decide which is more mimetic and annoying over time—the scream or the song? They’re not really as inoffensive as the satisfying “By Mennen”, the king of commercial earworms.

In the past, this blog has almost exclusively focused on the Nintendo Entertainment System, as if it were a case of brand loyalty, but all that’s about to change. We know who has the real swagga: the Swagga Genesis. Sega is death metal to the bubblegum pop of Nintendo. Sega is a rebellious teen (like a new Los song), while Nintendo is a Japanese schoolboy is a nintendog is a pokémon. Sega wears a blue mohawk and plays electric guitar, while Nintendo rides a bicycle to work and plays banjo. Sega is black; Nintendo is asian.

Sega is short for “Service Games.” It’s clean. In Japanese, Nintendo means “work really hard but at the end of the day it is in heaven’s hands,” or some such Jingrish jive. Everyone knows Nintendo is run by the yakuza, but Sega is an Air Force intelligence psy-op; in other words: All-American.