As part of my play-through of every Zelda game in a year, I finally got around to starting the GameCube version of Twilight Princess last night. As I slogged through the endless opening sequences of the game, one thing kept me from ever skipping a cutscene or complaining about fishing with weird controls: that music. One tune in particular really stood out to me. “Ilia’s Theme” plays a fair number of times in the opening parts of Twilight Princess as the relationship between Link and his friends are developed for the player. With its sweet tune and the gorgeous scenes that accompany it, it’s hard to get bored of this song.
Track: Ilia’s Theme
Game: Twilight Princess (GCN, Wii)
Purpose: Character Theme, Exposition
Composers: Toru Minegishi, Asuka Ohta, Kōji Kondō.
Author’s Note: For this week’s feature I would like to try something new. I realize in the past I have often wound up giving some great songs much less attention than they deserve while others received full focus. There’s no explanation for that but my own laziness and lack of structure, so I will be keeping to a common setup from now on. Each song will be broken down into its point (what its use is in the game, what it’s meant to accomplish), its sound, and finally the verdict or summary of how well those two parts work together. I hope that keeping these clearly defined will help me give full focus to each part. Now let’s get started!
As I mentioned before, much of this song’s use is as a background theme for the scenes between Link and Ilia. Childhood friends, the pair are shown to have a very deep connection that goes beyond simple friendship. Ilia may criticize Link for his carelessness but this is only because she still cares deeply for him. Similarly, Link appreciates Ilia’s care for him and Epona, and would sacrifice anything to protect her (hence how he gets himself caught up in saving the world . . . as usual). Their scenes together in the early parts of the game need to convey this and music is important for that.
“More courage in that girl than in all the soldiers in Hyrule, for sure!”
Later in the game, this story is further expanded upon when Link finds Ilia for the first time since her kidnapping . . . and she can’t remember a thing. As Telma is speaking to Link about what this amnesiac girl has done, it becomes clear that Ilia is truly caring and courageous at heart. Even without a single memory of who she is, all she can care about is the welfare of others. The music for this character would have to cover all of this; her love for Link, her kindness towards others, and perhaps even the misfortune of her kidnapping.
The star of this theme is the flute, no doubt about it. With almost nothing to accompany it, this beautiful wind instrument rises and falls in a steady tune that carries itself wonderfully. At first it follows a steady refrain that very closely resembles “Epona’s Song” but is still different enough to stand on its own legs. Still, this throwback to Link’s horse is a nice and subtle way to show the connection the friends have.
As the theme continues, it begins to rise into some much higher pitches in a truly gorgeous section that has every capability of leaving the listener with chills. This is the part that sets the song apart; otherwise it would have just been too repetitive for my liking.
All in all, this flute piece is very sweet and quiet. It is hard to simply call this a sad song, but it is just as difficult to define it as happy. “Sweet” and “soft” are the words that come to mind; this is a song about happy memories and a song about kindness.
The early scenes between Link and Ilia provide beautiful imagery with the twilit forest and spring around the two friends and their horse. Those scenes are perfected by this song, making every word spoken between the two that much more important; you can really feel that this is a relationship that matters to both parties. Later on, as Telma speaks of Ilia’s deeds, the tune plays again in an even softer tone. The player feels sorry for Ilia’s memory loss, but there is still that sweet recognition that plays across Link’s face: this is his friend. Even without knowing who she is, she is still the person he has known all his life. The music echoes this familiarity for the player.
All in all, this is a gorgeous tune. It may not be my favorite in the series or even in Twilight Princess, but it holds its own in the series with its gorgeous sound.
How do you like Ilia’s Theme, and her character as a whole? Do you think the song matches her well? What are some of your favorite covers of the song? Be sure to let me know your thoughts and suggestions for the future in the comments!