The music of the Zelda series has grown significantly well over the past thirty years. Going from simple, synthesized music to grand orchestral scores of which the likes of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and so on wish they could compose! I’m sure they would speak for themselves if not for the account of being deceased for nearly two centuries, but I digress. The music matures with each installment, keeping familiar melodies arranged in newly composed pieces all throughout the series. We hear that Zelda’s music becomes more dynamic and varied in its compositions in A Link to the Past, and progresses to an orchestral score with Ocarina of Time.
Speaking of Ocarina of Time, we are about to revisit one of the most iconic video games ever made and take a look at a reimagined soundtrack of the epic tale! Entitled the ‘Hero of Time’, the soundtrack contains fully orchestrated pieces of some of the adventure’s most memorable tunes performed by a live, 64-piece orchestra. The soundtrack began as a Kickstarter project by video game music label, Materia Collective, and has 1000 backers with over $50,000 raised. The album was released digitally on March 27th, and after listening to all 21 pieces I can safely say that ‘Hero of Time’ will reunite you with Link on his epic adventure through time to save Hyrule. Each composition stands on its own as a theatrical piece of music that will indeed shake you to the core, but listening to the album as a whole will take you through the wondrous adventures of childhood to the tough challenges of adulthood. I will go through some of the tracks that stood out to me as nostalgic masterpieces as to not give too much away of this epic experience.
HERO OF TIME
Obviously the titular piece is on this list. I mean, who wouldn’t get chills after hearing Ocarina’s title theme played by a live orchestra? If you weren’t overcome with fond memories by the familiar piano chimes and melodious woodwinds, then you haven’t played Ocarina of Time, in which case I will stop writing until you’ve played Ocarina of Time. I’ll wait. Are you done? Splendid! This track in particular feels more than just a theme for the title screen. It is the sun rising with its light shining on an incredible landscape that is unfamiliar to you, yet something about it makes you feel that you’ve been here before. The strings accompanied by horns crescendo alongside the piano and woodwinds as you climb atop a mountain, and your heart sinks of what lies ahead. The classic Zelda theme rises triumphantly as your eyes behold the majesty of Hyrule Field. An ocean of trees dot the mysterious Lost Woods, the fiery maw of Death Mountain lies dormant in the distance, the glistening waters of Lake Hylia rest calmly, and of course the pearl white jewel that is Hyrule Castle safeguards the Sacred Realm. The piece is fantastic is what I’m trying to say. Epic words just started to write themselves, but the Hero of Time is a great track to begin your adventure!
I challenge you to play this track as you begin your morning and not feel energized to tackle whatever challenges may come your way. This piece can summarize a day’s worth of adventure in just over five minutes. I tip my hat to the composer keeping the piece’s length about as a long as OoT’s day/night cycle. I mean honestly, how does one have a full day in Hyrule? By the time they’ve woken up, eaten breakfast, watched in horror as a sword wielding kid breaks into their home, smashes their pots, and steals their hard earned rupees, it’s already past midnight. Alas, I have derailed from the subject at hand; let’s get back to the soundtrack. The track opens with a cheerful flute akin to the chimes of a morning songbird, which is considerably more pleasant than the irritable buzz of an alarm clock. Once the percussion kicks in followed by the brass section, your adventure has kicked off to a bright start!
The piece takes you through the magical wonders Hyrule has to offer. There’s nothing around you but the world’s natural beauty with birds high in the sky, horses galloping over the hills, an annoying fairy pestering you what to do every few minutes. It’s all sunshine and rainbows until the music takes a dark turn when faced with some unexpected trouble. Whether you’re being attacked by octoroks, or paying the price for angering a flock of cuccos, there will always be something that will attempt to ruin your adventure. Of course the piece returns to a cheery pace as you rise victorious against the challenges thrown at you, and the music brings the day to a close with a quiet evening at Lake Hylia’s fishing pond.
THE LEGENDARY BLADE
This is personally my favorite piece on the album. When I first played Ocarina of Time at a young age, setting foot into the Temple of Time after obtaining the three stones was an incredibly rewarding experience. I was gravitated towards the haunting choral music that echoed within the Temple walls only to approach a lone pedestal with three spaces to fit the sacred stones. My heart raced with excitement as the stones magically circled over the pedestal and fitted themselves in place. The stone triangle embossed above the Door of Time came to life in a brilliant gold light, and the temple shook as the door split open to reveal a dark chamber. I entered through the door knowing that my adventure had only just started. Then with only one beam of light that pierced through the darkness, the legendary blade laid in wait for a hero worthy of its mighty power.
With that said, this particular arrangement brings that moment into a scene highly befitting of cinema. It begins with an intensified version of Zelda’s Lullaby that highlights the moment when Impa and Princess Zelda flee from Hyrule Castle with Ganondorf in pursuit. Ganon’s theme creeps up behind the desperate theme of Zelda, and after the short confrontation between the hero and desert king, Link recovers the Ocarina of Time from the moat. From there, the Song of Time rises with the theme that evil has not yet prevailed so long as hope and courage remain.
To those who loved playing Ocarina of Time as well as those who loved the music, this album was made with the intent to revive the fond memories we had with such a timeless adventure. The Hero of Time doesn’t sacrifice originality for the sake of making simple covers. The music holds up very well on its own and provides a variety of styles and arrangements that fit the original tunes wonderfully. I not only recommend giving the Hero of Time a listen, but also lend an ear to other projects by Materia Collective as they’ve produced arrangements of music from Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Skyrim, and even remixes of pieces from Majora’s Mask.
Thank you for joining me in this adventure back to the golden days of the Legend of Zelda! Please share which tunes you enjoyed the most if any. I look forward to reading your responses, and thank you once again!