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Legend Of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony – Gerudo Valley

Legend Of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony – Gerudo Valley 

By: Kirsten Grove-White

From January 23 until March 14, 2012 (that’s when the Zelda Symphony performs at the Orpheum Thetre in Vancouver BC, Canada), I’m going to be analyzing the various songs played by The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Special Orchestra CD once a week.

This week, I’ll focus on Gerudo Valley.

I absolutely detested this the first time I heard it. I’m still not the biggest fan of it, but it’s growing on me the more I listen to it – it’s ridiculously far away from the original in feel, and I think that’s what draws me to it. That being said, this rendition still retains an exotic flair. The opening has a strong emphasis on beats 2 and 4, giving it a non-Western feel right off the bat. Syncopation in the marimba line later on add to that Latin feel.

Photo Credit: Nintendo of America, Bob Riha, Jr.

The long swells on the tonic in both the low and high brass, when combined with the dissonant augmented fourth (it’s the crunchy note you hear at 0:18 and again at 0:21 – the augmented fourth is also known as the Devil’s Interval, because it evokes a natural tension in the listener) are an interesting addition to the piece. The original Gerudo’s Valley was very simple harmonically, but this reimagining is much more complex and brings a maturity to the piece.

When we do finally get to the theme, it’s kept in the lower end of the orchestra for its initial statement – slightly unusual and something I quite like, especially the decision to give the cello section a soli (plural of solo – when an entire section of the orchestra is featured) for the second part of the theme. Again, the plaintive violin takes the melody with some rich harmonies from the second violin adding to the exotic sound – which helps reclaim that intimate feeling that I loved so much about the original version of the piece. To juxtapose that, at 2:05 the harmonies are expanded with a very full orchestral quality, again demonstrating the maturity of the arrangement, before we launch into a full-orchestra restatement of the theme.

What I enjoy more and more about this piece is that I imagine it’d be a lot of fun for the entire orchestra to play – there are shining moments for most sections (and irritating sections, too, with the dreaded one-note rhythmic ostinato. You know what an ostinato is by now, right?). The thing that irks me the most now about it is the delicate and pretty ending. It feels like a complete disconnect from the rest of the piece and frankly undermines the energy

Another aspect about this rendition that’s slowly winning me over is the human quality of it. There are two anomalies in the recording that are readily apparent: we have a runaway orchestra at 0:49 with the first statement of the theme, and there’s an obvious cack in the first trumpet at 2:43 (a cack being more or less what it sounds like: when a brass instrument goes for a note and misses it, getting a somewhat odd tone and obviously the wrong note). In this case, the cack more or less sounds like an appoggiatura (an ornament on the note), but it’s clearly a mistake and for some reason I really like that whoever produced the recordings decided to keep this performance of it despite those little errors.

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Posted on February 13, 2012, in Video Game Soundtracks and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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