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Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony – Ballad of the Goddess (Skyward Sword)

Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony – Ballad of the Goddess (Skyward Sword)

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 final week, I’ll focus on the Ballad of the Goddess (from Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword).

I’m sure I’m the last person to point out that the basis for this theme is a retrograde of Zelda’s lullaby (proof: see video after the break.). Still, I think it’s pretty cool and it’s just a testament to Kondo’s composition skill that playing a melody he wrote backwards isn’t unsettling and full of intervals that don’t work. I haven’t heard much of Skyward Sword’s music and haven’t been able to analyze it for myself, but apparently it’s full of retrograde versions of classic themes, so keep an ear out for them as you play it.

The recording itself is more or less a snippet, with a lovely, plain harp statement of the theme to introduce us to it. I like the instrument choice, as it mirrors the game (minor spoiler, I guess? Not that it’s terribly surprising that Zelda plays a harp), and the simplicity of the initial arrangement – it allows the listener to focus on the melody. It’s like they’re ushering us along into discovering the retrograde by ourselves. Then, after some wind chimes, we launch into a full-orchestra rendition of it with sometimes syncopated countermelodies and driving percussion, which demonstrates the versatility of the theme: it works as both a simple, lyrical ballad and as a rousing overworld-esque melody. One of my favourite moments is the descending arpeggio (a chord played as its individual notes) in the strings during the secondary theme at 1:17. Another is at 1:29, where there’s a brief pause and then a small timpani solo. Kondo uses space in his music very effectively (like earlier in the 25th Anniversary Medley heading into the Dark World theme) – giving us a moment to breathe between thoughts or teasing us a little bit before allowing us to indulge in the theme.

I’m a big fan of the new theme, and hope that the music in the rest of the game (when I get around to listening to it) measures up to the expectations this produces.

I have to say, though, the theme conjures up an image more noble than flying on an oddly-proportioned and honestly comical-looking bird. Oh well, guess we can’t have Epona in every game, now can we?

Outro

I’ve listened to this album over and over to analyze it and just for my own enjoyment. It wasn’t the thing of beauty that I expected, but the more I listen to it, the more I love it. What I love about it is that it spans the entirety of the series: from the very beginning right up to the present, with Skyward Sword (where we’re beginning to go backward – isn’t that ironic?) It shows that the themes that have been used in the old games have done nothing but age gracefully, and are still just as iconic and exciting as they were decades ago.

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Posted on March 14, 2012, in Video Game Soundtracks and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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