Main Theme (New Super Mario Bros.)
The "Main Theme" is a musical theme used in ground courses in New Super Mario Bros., New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and New Super Mario Bros. 2. It has a 2/4 time signature played at 100 beats per minute in C major. According to Super Mario Series for Piano, the theme was composed by Koji Kondo and Kenta Nagata, although the latter credit may refer to the New Super Mario Bros. Wii arrangement.
It is the first theme heard in-game that gives a gameplay effect to the "bah" vocals, which were previously sampled in Super Mario 64. This would become a recurring game mechanic throughout the New Super Mario Bros. games.
Super Mario series
New Super Mario Bros.
The opening two measures of the Ground Theme's melody are first used in the introductory cutscene. It plays as Mario and Princess Peach come on-screen during their walk. The melody is played swung on vibraphone, with acoustic guitar adding harmony, and birds can be heard chirping in the background. The melody segues into a mysterious augmented chord with stacked major seconds as the characters notice the thundercloud forming over Peach's Castle.
The Main Theme proper plays in most levels in the game set above the ground. The Super Mario History 1985-2010 album contains an uncompressed version of the theme, unlike the compressed version that plays in-game.
The Athletic Theme is an uptempo swing arrangement of the Ground Theme that features clarinet, muted trumpet, xylophone, trombone, and acoustic bass. The B-section has a new melody played on square synthesizer.
One section of the staff credits theme arranges the New Super Mario Bros. Ground Theme on steel drum in the treble range, with a whistled countermelody, staccato square synthesizer, and the drum kit featured throughout the rest of the piece. This transitions into a fuller version played on electric organ with brass accompaniment, then into the Underground Theme.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
In New Super Mario Bros. Wii, the first two measures of the Ground Theme's melody are used at the end of the opening cutscene, while the player characters are chasing the airship, Propeller Mushrooms, and Penguin Suits. The leitmotif is played on synthesized brass, leading to a dominant chord and timpani roll.
The Ground Theme itself is arranged with a new, slightly sparser, more synthetic instrumentation. It is played on clavichord, electric organ, electric piano, vibraphone, synth bass, and an electronic drum kit.
The rhythm of the hook and opening section is changed. The latter replaces the square-wave sixteenth notes with a staccato electric organ that continues in the background throughout the A-section. The orchestra hit that accompanies the "bah" vocals in the original version is replaced by a clapping rhythm.
The Athletic Theme is also rearranged, replacing the clarinet with accordion, xylophone with banjo, and square synthesizer with muted electric guitar.
Snow courses now have a subtle arrangement of the Ground Theme, which adds French horn, strings, and sleigh bells, and reintroduces the acoustic guitar from the New Super Mario Bros. arrangement. The claps become a snare drum fill.
The Ground and Snow Themes also have an added percussion track, including cuíca and shaker, which plays while riding a Yoshi.
New Super Mario Bros. 2
New Super Mario Bros. 2 uses modified arrangements of the New Super Mario Bros. Wii Ground, Snow, and credits themes. These versions double the melody with a capella vocals.
Mario Party 10
In Mario Party 10, a brief orchestral arrangement of the New Super Mario Bros. Wii Ground Theme is one of three music tracks that are chosen to play at random in Steal the Beat, alongside the Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World Ground Theme. The introduction and the first four notes of the melody are arranged.
Mario Strikers: Battle League