Transcription of "The Moon" from DuckTales

This article is part 11 of 52 in the 2022 music project series.
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The Moon is in the pantheon of great video game music. Even though DuckTales was a pretty decent game for the NES, it's nothing spectacular, and as such, this song was a kind of a sleeper hit. Unlike, say, Castlevania, which was a famous game with a bunch of great music, DuckTales doesn't have the "amazing game with amazing music" appellation; it's merely a "pretty good game with this one incredible piece of music".


Gameplay of DuckTales for the NES

Odd meter of the intro

Anyway, this song has been covered to death. However, transcriptions were not incredibly abundant, and the the little arpeggiated riff at the beginning has some weird timing that nobody ever seemed to get right. This weirdness is rectified later in the song by adding a C♯ to make it an even 16 eighth notes.

ducktales-moon-intro-15-8.png (image/png, 366x74, 2,420 bytes)
The correct transcription of the intro from The Moon
ducktales-moon-verse-4-4.png (image/png, 379x70, 3,072 bytes)
Slightly altered intro riff played later in the song

I listened to this tune pretty painstakingly, and I am supremely confident that my transcription with the weird 15/8 meter is correct and almost everyone else is wrong. Most covers and transcriptions of this song eschew the annoying 15/8 meter and just play it more naturally in 4/4 by adding either an F♯ or a C♯ as the first note, as seen below (or, in other cases, they play all the same notes but not in the correct order, as it mostly sounds the same):

ducktales-moon-intro-wrong.png (image/png, 379x70, 2,164 bytes)
A prepended C♯ makes this more natural to play for humans
ducktales-moon-intro-wrong-with-f.png (image/png, 376x72, 2,066 bytes)
Or, alternatively, prepending an F♯

The Moon Transcription

Music from DuckTales was composed by Hiroshige Tonomura, except for the iconic theme song (written by Mark Mueller, arranged for the game by Tonomura).

Theme from The Moon from DuckTales, composed by Hiroshige Tonomura
ducktales-moon-transcription-sample.png (image/png, 826x637, 28,074 bytes)
Sample transcription of The Moon by Hiroshige Tonomura


Other versions

As I mentioned, this song has been covered/arranged to death. Here are some of my favorites in order of how great I think they are:

  1. GaMetal's metal remix - and yes, he even gets the meter right during the intro!
  2. Smooth McGroove's multipart a cappella
  3. MassiveCarCrash's remix
  4. erock's Moon Theme Meets Metal
  5. Tom Winter's acoustic guitar arrangement
  6. 8-bit Big Band's orchestral arrangement - befitting an orchestra, they also got the intro meter right.
  7. Dr. Unknown's smooth jazz cover

This is a miniscule selection, there are many more on YouTube and around the Internet.