I have been talking with my fellow Music Feature writer Alexander, and we have decided to shake things up with our weekly features. After writing last week’s tribute to Kōji Kondō I realized just how much I enjoy the original game scores from the series rather than just fan covers. So, I have decided to change the focus of Flute Boy’s Meadow; from now on this feature will bring the spotlight to the original compositions from the series, exactly the way we always remember them. Alexander will still be focusing on the talents of our fellow Zelda fans every Wednesday with his Windmill Hut feature, so be sure to check in with him for your weekly dose of fan-covers.
From now on my goal is to look at what makes each piece from the games special, how some of them have changed over the years, and how well they fit their respective in-game places. Jump on in to get started!
For the first week of our new focus, I have opted for one of the most loved and well-known pieces from the classic Zelda games: The Dark World theme from A Link to the Past. Before I go any further let’s have a listen.
Track: The Dark World
Game: A Link to the Past (SNES)
Composer: Koji Kondo
Anyone who has played A Link to the Past knows this tune. It is classic 16-bit, but nonetheless the sounds being emulated are pretty easy to spell. The song begins with a rapid march theme struck upon snare drums and outlined by brass instruments, leading into mournful strings that spell out the theme’s sadder tunes. All of this is outlined and put into play within the first twenty seconds.
The purpose of “The Dark World” is to form a background overworld theme while Link makes his way through the corrupted Sacred Realm. For such a purpose, the song is perfect. The previously mentioned tones practically tell the story of where you are: you have stumbled into this dangerous world, and without even having to look at the dark and twisted scenery you know that things are not right. Gone are the familiar, soaring marches of Hyrule’s Overworld Theme. Now you are assaulted by rapid, lower tones that put you on edge.
Then the strings kick in. Moving up and down in a moving theme, the melody of this song brings to mind what has happened. This was once the Sacred Realm, a beautiful place, but it is now twisted and dark. Things are not all right. Now, moved by the still-pulsing march theme, you know it is your duty to save this world.
Few video game songs have the power of the Dark World theme. To be able to express urgency, duty, fear, unfamiliarity, loss, and more all in two minutes of 16-bit simulated music is an admirable feat few are capable of. This ranks among my favorite video game music of all time, and I hope that I was able to do this song justice today.
So, thus concludes this week’s Flute Boy’s Meadow, but I’d love to hear your thoughts! How do you like this music? What are some of your fondest memories of adventuring through A Link to the Past‘s Dark World? What are some other Zelda songs you would like to see picked apart here? Do you like the new direction of Flute Boy’s Meadow, or would you prefer I stick with presenting fan covers? Let us know in the comments!