VGM Playlist #19 – The Legend of Zelda

zelda_music

30 years ago today, the Legend of Zelda series hit the Famicom in Japan, and along with it came one of the most iconic melodies in gaming. Famously, however, this was not always the plan; the overworld theme in the game was written in a single day by Koji Kondo after Nintendo realised that the Ravel’s Bolero, initially intended for use as it was believed to be public domain, was actually still under copyright. Thankfully, this would be the last time that Nintendo was lax with the scores to the franchise – it almost boggles the mind to think that this piece almost never existed in the Hyrule universe

Music has always played a pivotal role within the Legend of Zelda series; a combination of silent characters (save for a ‘hyaaa!’ every now and then) and musical instruments being major plot points in a number of titles has meant that the audio work will always have been of utmost importance, and happily the likes of the aforementioned Kondo, Kenta Nagata, Toru Minegishi et al. have all made very successful contributions to the series, striking a balance of melody and atmosphere within the scores and sometimes even within single tracks. As well as this, each game (or set of games) feels like it has its own unique style – for example, you can hear playfulness and whimsy through Wind Waker, while Majora’s Mask brings with it a more reflective, and at times rather dark, tone. This is all the more impressive considering the use of recurring themes which crop up throughout the series, pieces that were iconic in their own right when first used.

Given the longevity and wide range of platforms the series has appeared on, it’s very hard for me to pick a stand out soundtrack. As my first Zelda game, A Link to the Past will always feel iconic and how the music ‘should’ sound (in my head at least), but each score has its own arguments for being the best. With the latest installment due out this year, the musical reputation of the series and Nintendo’s renewed focus on high production values in its music, we can look forward to what’s coming next,

New format alert: I’ve dispensed with youtube videos and have instead opted for a stream link with a playlist below. Tell me what you think about that, and of course what your favourite Zelda pieces are, in the comments

Playlist
The Legend of Zelda – Opening (Koji Kondo)
TLOZ: The Adventures of Link – Palace (Akito Nakatsuka)
TLOZ: A Link to the Past – Dark World (Koji Kondo)
TLOZ: A Link to the Past – Princess Zelda
TLOZ: Ocarina of Time – Kakariko Village (Koji Kondo)
TLOZ: Ocarina of Time – Gerudo Valley
TLOZ: Link’s Awakening – Tal Tal Heights (Minako Hamano / Kozue Ishikawa)
TLOZ: Majora’s Mask – Clocktown, Day 1 (Koji Kondo)
TLOZ: The Wind Waker – Outset Island (Koji Kondo / Toru Minegishi / Kenta Nagata / Hajime Wakai)
TLOZ: The Wind Waker – Dragon Roost Island
TLOZ: The Wind Waker – Molgera
TLOZ: The Minish Cap – Palace of Winds (Mitsuhiko Takano)
TLOZ: Twilight Princess – Midna’s Lament (Koji Kondo / Toru Minegishi / Asuka Ohta)
TLOZ: Spirit Tracks – Overworld (Toru Minegishi / Manaka Tominaga / Asuka Ohta / Koji Kondo)
TLOZ: Skyward Sword – Ballad of the Goddesses (Hajime Wakai / Shiho Fujii / Mahito Yokota)
TLOZ: Skyward Sword – Fi’s Farewell
TLOZ: A Link Between Worlds – Lorule Castle 5 (Ryo Nagamatsu)
Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony – Main Theme Medley (Various)

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