'Zelda' Fans are Just as Excited about Music as Gameplay

Thursday, January 26, 2017 - 10:29 AM

Koji Kondo, the longtime composer of the 'Legend of Zelda' video game series. Koji Kondo, the longtime composer of the 'Legend of Zelda' video game series. (Vincent Diamante/Flickr)

The 19th main entry into the long running The Legend of Zelda video game series, Breath of the Wild, has been generating endless buzz since the announcement of its official release date. While writers and fans have been excitedly sharing details that have been revealed, the release of a new trailer has some focused on one particularly memorable aspect: the music.

The memorable themes of the Zelda series has made the music about as iconic as its hooded protagonist. The original themes, composed over three decades ago by Koji Kondo, are still being reshaped and reimagined. For instance, here’s “Great Fairy Fountain,” a theme from Ocarina of Time (1998) and one of the series’ most popular entries. And here it is almost 20 years later, mashed up with Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu.

The music of Zelda has also proved to be an orchestral mainstay, drawing crowds into the concert hall and capturing the attention of classical veterans. It spawned a four-year orchestra tour and has made its way into more established symphonic ensembles, as seen in this performance from the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra:

The Legend of Zelda isn’t the only video game franchise with deep roots in traditional classical music. Final Fantasy is another series with compositions in the video game music canon. For most entries, composer Nobuo Uematsu’s music proved wildly popular and dozens of ensembles have performed and recorded his work. It may have even had a bigger reach than Zelda, as the latest Final Fantasy score (from composer Yoko Shimomura) was recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The series’ older, computer generated music has been arranged for orchestra too, as you can hear in this Royal Philharmonic performance of music from Final Fantasy VI:

Which game themes and compositions have you heard adapted for orchestra? Do you think video game music can bring more people together in the concert hall? Share your thoughts below.

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Comments [1]

jeffk from Brooklyn

I think my favorite example has to be Koichi Sugiyama's symphonic score for Dragon Quest VII: Journey of the Cursed King. The original Japanese release featured computer-generated music, but it was redone for the Western release of the game, and the music still gives me chills:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YgD4oldM04

Jan. 27 2017 08:45 AM

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