The Music of The Legend of Zelda

7 Aug

Welcome all of you spectacular bundles of 1-dimensional vibrating strings! In this game of life there are games, some of them even containing games of their own! Meaning that we can at will play a game within a game within a game! And who knows if it even ends there? /inception

Today we will be talking about a particular game, one that employs video at that. Unless you have been living under a rock, or are downright ignorant, you probably have heard of video games… in particular the series entitled, The Legend of Zelda.

The Legend of Zelda is an action adventure series where you play as a boy named Link who is usually tasked with rescuing the princess Zelda and ridding the world of evils by combating monsters and solving puzzles. One could compare it to any other video game of the same genre, but then that person would have clearly never played this game.

The thing that differentiates this series from other action-adventure series the most, in my opinion, is the art style. Created by Nintendo, more specifically Shigeru Miyamoto, the series is essentially a Japanese take on traditional Western Fairytale. The result is a bizarre marriage of cultures and a breath of fresh air in the entire fantasy genre. And to top it off, the series also boasts some of the best music in the entire video game industry.

Music in video games serves multiple purposes. Aside from adding a bit of aesthetically pleasing noise, it can serve to set the tone of different parts of a game or to signify the type of area you’re in. For example, if you hear battle music, prepare for battle, and if you’re in a forest, you’re probably listening to the forest theme. In the case of the Zelda series, music is even entwined into the actual story, requiring you to play certain songs in certain situations to proceed. If only real life were like that.

Let me now show you a few of my personal favorite Zelda songs, all of which were composed by a man named Koji Kondo, who does much of Nintendo’s music.

Hyrule field is the large central field connecting all of the locations in the game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This is the song which plays whenever you are in Hyrule field during the day. The song is peaceful yet adventurous, perfectly befitting as you ride calmly on horseback to the next destination of your epic quest.

This version is played by an orchestra and I find it to be a particularly soothing version. The strings do a very good job of conveying the warmth of the song. In my opinion it is the perfect song to play while simply lounging in the sun.

This song is from my favorite Zelda game, Majora’s Mask. Probably the darkest game of the series, it features a world which is doomed to end in three days. It is impossible for you to save the world in these three days, so you are forced to replay them over and over until you do. As you do so, the routines of every single character are set to repeat exactly unless you interfere. And even if you do interfere, your efforts will be forgotten as soon as you reset the cycle. The Japanese sure know trippy.

The song of healing is played to cure the sick and wounded in this hopeless world. It conveys that perfect feeling of hope despite the unattainable odds. It is quiet and soft, yet strong and dignified. A perfect piano hymn for a world where certain doom is inevitable.

The Ancient Hero is actually a remix of sorts. The game The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker opens with a brief video explaining the central legend in the game. The video is set to a song named The Legendary Hero and is the main inspiration behind this remix.

It is pretty much a definition of epic. It open with soft harp which lays down this legendary tune. It is slowly joined by other instruments and before you know it is playing at full roar. The build is so gracefully executed that you almost don’t even need to play the game to understand the magnitude of the adventure you are about to undertake.

Music from video games is a strange thing. Standalone it is like any other piece of music, with a lot of it being compared to classical music for obvious reasons. But in the context of the game it comes from it becomes something new entirely. It becomes the feeling that holds the story together and the beat which paces the action.

As a kid, playing a Zelda game was basically a life changing experience. The way I see it, men growing up these days will be put into either one two categories – those that played a Zelda game as a kid and those who didn’t. A game itself can be a series of experiences, and that is what qualifies you in life. Who knows, maybe one day the experiences you put down on a resume won’t necessarily have to be real life. Besides, if life is a game, then are not games like lives?




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