The Legend of Zelda -Ocarina of Time- Original Soundtrack
The Legend of Zelda -Ocarina of Time- Original Soundtrack
December 18, 1998
Buy at CDJapan
Anyone who’s anyone in the gaming world knows of The Legend of Zelda. They may not like Zelda, and they may not have even played Zelda, but everyone knows the franchise. So, when it came time to review the OSTs for the various Zelda games, I thought carefully about them. It was important for me to review the ones I knew, because I could give a valid judgment of them. Ocarina of Time was the second Zelda game I have had a chance to play (Majora’s Mask was my first), and sadly, it’s also the one I wish I had in my gaming library, because I had a lot of fun with it. The music in the game is very… unique to the franchise, and is immediately identifiable even from just a few opening bars of a track. For this review, I’m going to focus on what I think are the strong points of the album — both what sounds good to me, and those tracks which are particularly strong additions to the OST as a whole. I’ll also focus on these tracks in different groupings, so if you don’t see me discussing a particular track right away, keep reading, as I may mention it later.
Since this is the ‘Ocarina of Time’, it seems only natural to start with the Ocarina tracks. One thing that always amazes me when I hear the music from this game is the power and potential behind these otherwise overly simplistic tracks. Each is a short melodic phrase, barely ten notes long, yet they have such an impact on the game as a whole — not only by having Link play them in the game (to teleport to a location, or cause something to happen), but by having them form a musical connection between the player, and the people and places in the game. “Zelda’s Lullaby” and “Epona’s Song” are two such themes that create an important connection. “Zelda’s Theme” continuously reminds the player and Link of what hangs in the balance should he fail in his quest. “Epona’s Song” is the constant reminder that Link is not alone, and that his trusty steed will follow him always. These two themes have also appeared in other Zelda titles. “Saria’s Song” and “Song of Time” each remind the player of specific purposes within the game. Saria’s friendly tune for Link keeps him on edge, while the “Song of Time” embodies all of the power of the Temple of Time, the iconic location to allow Link to travel through time. “Sun Song” and “Song of Storms” aren’t particularly intricate of detailed, but their purpose is obvious, and using them effectively in the game is part of what makes Zelda such an intricate, thought-provoking title. Sometimes, all you need is a little music to make the flowers grow.
Of course, as important as the Ocarina tracks are, there isn’t a lot of musical substance to them. That’s where their orchestral counterparts come into play. “Zelda’s Theme” and “Lon Lon Ranch” bring those short melodic phrases into a new perspective. “Lon Lon Ranch” particularly gives a whole new side to Epona’s theme. When we hear it, we understand that we’re on a ranch, and more particularly, that we feel at home there and at peace, much like Link does in the game. “Zelda’s Theme” of course, is one of those main themes of the game that shows up over and over, but I decided to include it here to contrast it with it’s ocarina track. I’ll talk a little more about it later on. “Lost Woods” brings in the quick nature of “Saria’s Song,” and adds a sense of playfulness to the track which embodies the childhood feelings of Saria and Link. “Temple of Time” however brings an epic, atmospheric tone that the ocarina track can’t begin to imply. “Hyrule Field Morning Theme” and “Windmill Hut” also bring their own touch to the ideas of a clear day and a thunderstorm. While the ocarina tracks work well in establishing the themes, the orchestrated tracks are really needed to understand them from a larger point of view.
Keeping with the Ocarina themes, it’s time to turn to the all-important ‘elemental world’ themes, meaning the temples Link visits to obtain the six required medallions in the game. Each theme does a great job of mimicking the style of it’s location. “Minuet of Woods” sounds very forest-like, like you’re relaxing under a deep green canopy. “Bolero of Fire” gives an impression of quick heated tempers. “Serenade of Water” gives the sensation of swimming with the dolphins. “Nocturne of Shadow” sounds like an eerie haunted house, with who knows what lurking around the corner. “Prelude of Light” offers hope and the promise of a brighter tomorrow. “Requiem of Spirit” hints at the afterlife, as both a paradise and a prison. One thing that I have always enjoyed about the Legend of Zelda, is that it does not shy away from using music as more than just background noise. Specifically incorperating musical terms into the titles of these pieces which Link learns are something that hasn’t been seen in other games, and it is very refreshing to see.
Let’s look at some of the locations in the game. For the most part, some of these tracks are very memorable, almost to the degree of some of the main themes of the game. “Kakariko Village” is very slow and drawn out, suggesting a laid back way of life consisting of farmers and simple tradesmen. The pleasant feel of the track is backed up by simple guitar chord progressions, with a harmonica melody and ocarina counter melody. “Goron City” is very tribal, with congas and odd sounding bongos offering a structures bass line to the otherwise melodic percussion, the perfect way to represent the Goron race. “Zora’s Domain” is very light, and very… glassy in nature. You have that feel of actually being underwater, surrounded by shimmering coral and water canyons in a hundred shades of blue. “Gerudo Valley” is probably the one location track that everyone can easily identify. Perhaps one of the most ambitious tracks on the album, it’s definitely one of the stronger tracks both in instrumentation, and atmosphere. Canyons automatically come to mind, while the instrumentation of guitars and trumpets back up the Spanish feel of the track.
No review would be complete without a good look at the two most well known Zelda themes. “Ocarina of Time” is another rendition of “Zelda’s Theme,” combining together both an ocarina solo (as seen in the Ocarina tracks), and the orchestral counterpart. And while it is a good track, I’m going to move away from it to get to the focus of this section. Everyone knows of Hyrule, and the main track of this album doesn’t disappoint. “Hyrule Field Main Theme” brings the theme out blaring, with the strings, percussion, and trumpets that appear in almost every rendition of the theme. It’s an upbeat track that brings together all four corners of this album. Short ocarina melodic lines imitate the ocarina tracks; long melodic sections mimic the orchestral ocarina counterparts; tense, short sections of minor keys and dissonance hint towards the battle themes which occur throughout the game (which I didn’t discuss in this review); and the strong single melodic portions in the latter half of the track bring together the area themes from the game. This track is a perfect example of how to really ‘represent’ an album, or in this case, a franchise.
It may appear to you that I am in favor of this album. To be completely honest, while I respect the ingenuity of some of the tracks, as well as the unique presence this franchise has in the video game world, I’m not a huge fan of this album as a stand-alone experience. A lot of the instrumentation, white noteworthy, is simply too… simple to deserve any real praise. Also, as most of the tracks clock in at less than two minutes, it’s hard to really justify one track as being superior to others, when nothing is really expanded upon other than one melodic line. While the tracks are memorable, that’s all they are. I can’t see myself sitting and listening to one of the ocarina tracks over and over again, simply because it’s far too easy to remember after one playback, to the point where you don’t need to hear it again to enjoy it. The melodies are to die for, but that’s all. So, while I approve of the album as a statement, I can’t recommend it as a purchase for anyone other than a die-hard Zelda fan.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Andre Marentette. Last modified on January 17, 2016.