Resonance: Mining Melancholy

I had to check several times to make sure no one had already written about this one, as Mining Melancholy might possibly be one of the most brilliant songs in a game that already has plenty of amazing tracks.  As expected, Mining Melancholy is found in every mine level of Donkey Kong Country 2.  As you play through these often frustrating levels (thanks to the fact that every single one is vertical, which means that one mistake could send you tumbling back to the start of the level, or worse), if you pay attention to the background, you’ll notice the tools left behind by the miners.  Pickaxes, explosives, buckets, what have you.  And let’s not forget those huge sparkling gems we catch glimpses of in the distance.  Those things are massive!

Enormous gems and the staggering amount they must be worth aside, the best part of these stages is by far the music, which probably speaks far louder for these levels’ simple story than the background ever could.  Right from the beginning, you can hear the sharp clang of pickaxes forming the song’s beat.  The racket they create is almost jarring, but nothing could be more atmospheric.

Video from Youtube User: BrawlBRSTMs3

And then, all that harsh, metallic noise stops at 1:24 to make way for an entirely different kind of sound.  Now, I know it’s a little hard to recognize vocals in a Super Nintendo game.  They just weren’t a very common thing back then, and when you heard them, they usually sounded nothing like actual voices.  Even so, maybe it’s just me, but I always heard voices singing at that one part of the song, like the miners themselves taking a break in their work to hum that one, single refrain before the sound of pickaxes ring throughout the mine once more as they return to their tireless work.

Where these mysterious miners are, I know not, but it imbues a strange sort of emotion into these levels I normally wouldn’t expect from a simple platformer.  What do I care about some fictional miners working in a fictional mine that have no consequence to the plot, hmm?  I wouldn’t normally, until I hear their soft voices for that 20-second timespan.  It makes me feel…sad.  There’s honestly a lot of emotion in this two-minute song.  Not only is it brilliant, but clear proof that Rareware were kings of gaming back then.  And sometimes I think that may actually be the saddest thing of all.

Melancholy Duck

12 Comments Add yours

  1. I could hear this music in my head as soon as I saw the title of your article. This is right up there as one of the best tracks off the game and it’s so memorable. Very introspective observation about the voices. Thanks for the read!

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      This is just one of those songs I could never stop thinking about. There are several other songs in the game I enjoy listening to more, but this one stands out more because it almost seems to hold a hidden story, which isn’t really the case with the other songs in the game. It’s the one song that really gets me thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Stickerbush Symphony” is the most memorable song from DKC2, and for me the most beautiful. But this mining song is extremely catchy. Never thought about that underlying story before, though. That’s why we have blogs!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. duckofindeed says:

        Stickerbush Symphony is definitely the most beautiful song in the game (it’s no wonder it showed up in Super Smash Bros Brawl, though the original version was better). I also find Forest Interlude particularly soothing. There’s a lot of great music in that game, to be sure.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. It is great and now our conversation makes me want to play the game all over again.

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      4. duckofindeed says:

        I’m feeling the urge to play this game again, too, and I just replayed it a few months ago. I’ll never get bored of DKC2.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Best one in the trilogy, imo. Probably because I couldn’t beat the first one.

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      6. duckofindeed says:

        It’s my favorite in the trilogy, too. I like the Diddy/Dixie team. The pirates. And just the whole, general tone. The first game was definitely tough. I got stuck on Vine Valley for years before I finally managed to progress again. Then I eventually arrived in Snow Barrel Blast. Yay, spinning barrels, slippery ice, and killer bees. So much fun… (insert tears here)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mr. Panda says:

    Yes! DKC2 has one of my favorite video game soundtracks of all time, and your look at Mining Melancholy is precisely why! The use of sound effects in the music, the cool rock-like tune, and the buzzing makes it spectacular for me. Like you, I’m not even sure what the buzzing/humming is supposed to be, but it always sounded like bees to me, indicative of the amount of Zingers that tend to be in these vertical levels.

    Stickerbrush Symphony will always be one of my favorite tracks in not just DKC2, but of all time, but Mining Melancholy is one of many worthy songs from this superb collection from David Wise! Great article!

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      I loved the sound effects used in this game, as well. I really loved all the bugs and frogs and such you could hear in Bayou Boogie, for example. That was always a fun one. I definitely agree that DKC2 has one of the best soundtracks out there. The music is just as much a part of the whole experience as the gameplay and the beautiful backgrounds. Few games have as many memorable songs as this one.

      Ah, Stickerbush Symphony. That one really is beautiful. I always felt a strange sense of awe in those bramble levels, probably because of this music. (Why a giant mass of brambles seems to be floating in the sky, I have no idea, but because it gave us this music, I don’t care.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hatm0nster says:

    Mining Melancholy as rather aptly named would you say? It makes the level feel alive, but in a way that feels sad and lonely, especially during the segment with the vocal-like sounds.

    Seeing some other great tracks mentioned here in the comments; gotta love Stickerbrush Symphony and Forest Interlude, I’d say another great track from DKC 2 is “In A Snowbound Land”. It has a haunting quality to it, especially when it’s snowing outside!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. duckofindeed says:

      Yes indeed, alive is a perfect word for it. These mines might look abandoned, but the background music brings a certain sense of life to the stage, even if it’s not seen. As with any effective song, it adds a new dimension to the level. Had that music not been there, it would have been an entirely different experience.

      In a Snowbound Land is a good one, as well. It makes me feel chilly just listening to it. Brr!

      Liked by 2 people

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