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Legend of Zelda The Importance of Music in the Series

When your game series has an entry titled The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time it isnt surprising to say that music plays a major part within that series. However this aspect of the series is something that can be overlooked when remembering The Legend of Zelda. Some may instead remember the great hero of Hyrule not by the music he plays but by the tunic he wears and the weapons he wields. While those are all incredibly defining aspects of Link another key feature that doesnt always come to mind first is just how often Link uses music to succeed in his quests! Obviously there was the Ocarina mentioned from the game above but Link has used instruments to achieve a plethora of goals!

The first introduction of instruments within The Legend of Zelda actually came from the very first game with the title that the series is named after. In that game released in 1986 on the Nintendo Entertainment System Link can find a recorder. This recorder is used for the completion of a dungeon and for a few niche secrets but otherwise it does not have much use. Instruments and their musical capabilities were expanded greatly with the release of The Legend of Zelda Links Awakening. In that game Links entire quest revolves around the acquisition of eight musical instruments to awaken the Wind Fish and exit the dream world of Koholint. Unfortunately in that game the instruments serve more of a role as quest items rather than usable tools. The use of instruments as tools that the player accesses themselves would not come until the release of The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time.

When the Nintendo 64 classic was released there was an obvious focus on the ocarina. With the ocarina of time Link could change the time of day teleport to various locations in Hyrule and even cause sporadic storms to occur! While I cant say that music in our world can spontaneously cause it to rain though the act of playing music to improve the chances of rain is something found in many cultures I can say that the playing of music can have an effect on time similarly to how it works in the game. Music can enchant us in ways that make time feel different and we can get lost in the sounds of the instruments as time passes around us.
A screenshot from The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
Image via Nintendo

Like with the rain there is no way to say that music can physically teleport us to different places but it can take us there mentally. Musical pieces can implant mental images into our minds of anywhere in the world from the mysterious jungles to the lawless wild west to the serene locations of Asia. The Legend of Zelda simply takes these aspects and tweaks them with a small bit of fantasy to make them work better for the game. These elements of gameplay while servicing the structure of the game first and foremost do in fact have parallels to how music works in our own world. This is expanded even more through the direct sequel game The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask.

While Ocarina of Time played in a manner that was very linear Majoras Mask instead chose to focus on the characters of the world a lot more and this means many more opportunities to see how music impacts them. Multiple times throughout the game Link uses the Song of Healing to help ease the pains of those around him after the very song is used to cure him of the curse placed upon him by Skull Kid. This parallels with how music can help us to work through our troubling emotions to heal after all the pain that life can bring us.

Also used within Majoras Mask is various iterations of the Song of Time. This song was originally used in Ocarina of Time but it was not nearly as important as it is in Majoras Mask. In this game the song is used to reset Link to the beginning of the threeday time loop that he is stuck in. On top of that players can play two variations of the song that each have their own unique effect. The Song of Double Time will automatically advance Link to the next night or day unless you play the 3DS remake in which case you can actually pick the hour Link stops at and the Inverted Song of Time will allow Link to slow down the passage of time to 30% of the original value or 50% in the 3DS remake which gives him much more leeway to accomplish timesensitive quests.

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