Behind the Music: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Legend of Zelda

Posted: January 22, 2012 in Music, Video Games

No, I am not going into a whole VH1 tribute or parody. Instead, I would simply like to share a little about the music behind one of the greatest game franchises in the history of gaming. The Legend of Zelda’s main theme is one that is recognizable to so many as the games have been enjoyed across generations. From the original NES world theme to the most recent orchestral soundtrack to Skyward Sword, the music evokes emotion, excitement and joy to match the experience of the adventure on screen. By itself, you may not even recognize that it actually came from a video game.

This past year in celebration for the 25th anniversary, Nintendo hosted a concert in Los Angeles to highlight the music that helps to define this character and the whole franchise’s universe. The 70-piece orchestra played a series of selections and medleys from the games, spanning the entire history of the series. It was originally announced at E3 to joyous applause of the fanboys and was performed on October 21st.

To celebrate the series and reward the fans, a CD was added to the recently released Skyward Sword featuring the music of the concert. Here are the selections from the performance:

The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Medley – http://youtu.be/UCExYO-NNMA

  • Random assortment of themes and musical selections between the original and up to/including Spirit Tracks
  • Original theme appears toward the middle in a light violin section
  • Includes the following elements: Triforce Theme – A Link to the Past; Theme from Spirit Tracks; Dragon Roost Island – Wind Waker; Original Theme similar to Twilight Princess version; Dark Word Theme – A Link to the Past; Combination of Main Theme and Zelda’s Lullaby

Kakariko Village (Twilight Princess Theme) – http://youtu.be/t_FmaQiQcNE

  • Similar in sound to the theme from Ocarina of Time
  • Very smooth and slightly regal sound, particularly toward the beginning

The Wind Waker Symphonic Movement – http://youtu.be/J7yZ-jAj7Zk

  • Includes music that follows the chronological progression of the story
  • Strong moments featuring the boss themes and sailing theme mixed in with the lighter elements of character interactions

Gerudo Valley – http://youtu.be/THdRs7grqhE

  • Taken from Ocarina of Time
  • Bolder and more defined than the original

Great Fairy’s Fountain Theme – http://youtu.be/U7JQgyNw068

  • Orchestrated with a series of harps to capture the mystical side of the series
  • Not specific to one game but captures the spirit of all of them

Twilight Princess Symphonic Movement – http://youtu.be/nKhLkgqEFZM

  • Similar to the Wind Waker movement, captures the excitement and energy chronologically through the game (particularly in the most bombastic world theme out of the series)
  • Captures the essence of the story more than the actual music programmed into the game

The Legend of Zelda Main Theme Medley – http://youtu.be/qkYSuWSPkHI

  • Greatest focus on 2D games appears in this medley
  • Consists of a collection of interpretations of the main theme across the entire series

Ballad of the Goddess from Skyward Sword – http://youtu.be/hetWofrCz7U

  • Serves as the newest of the main game themes and will fit in nicely among the best of the series
  • One of the few main themes to be set in 3/4 rather than 4/4 time

Not only is this album one of the best orchestral video game collections but it was FREE with the game. I will definitely be listening to this entire album over and over again.

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