Oh, The Wind Waker, how I love thee. Throughout the countless hours I have spent upon this game I have always adored its music, everything from the sprightly island themes to the calm-yet-rousing sailing to the amazing battles. I have always felt that every Zelda game defines itself in its own way and very few games hold true to that more than Wind Waker. Now, with the recent announcement of its upcoming re-release for Wii U, I feel it’s as good a time as ever to head back and take another look at this game’s unique and stylish music.
For today’s feature of The Wind Waker‘s music, I have decided to opt for a very popular theme from the game: “Dragon Roost Island.” Make the jump to listen to it and read what I have to say about it!
Track: “Dragon Roost Island”
Game: The Wind Waker (GCN)
Purpose: Background Theme, Town/Island
Composers: Kenta Nagata, Hajime Wakai, Toru Minegishi, Kōji Kondō
Similar to last week’s “Deku Palace“, “Dragon Roost Island” fulfills the role of background music for an early area of the game that Link explores. Much like the other song, it also has a need to capture the vigor and essence of a strange and exotic place unlike anything the young hero is familiar with.
“There’s a red dragon at the summit! His name is Valoo, I think.”
There is a very distinct difference between Dragon Roost and the Deku Palace, though. While the Palace is inhabited by a plant-based, tribal swamp people, Dragon Roost Island is filled with the bird people of the Rito tribe. This flying tribe is a noble people ruled by a chieftain. They worship a great dragon and maintain many rituals in their culture.
The Rito’s home is not exactly barren, but it is still a large chunk of rock that stands taller than any other natural formation in the sea. It has its own beauty in its soaring peaks and crags that offer splendid views of the ocean. Plus, there is very little threat for Link on the island outside of its dungeon, so no tension is required in the theme; this place may be new and different to our hero but it is also safe. These are many of the sort of ideas this song must convey.
I cannot be the only person that thinks this, but I have always considered “Dragon Roost Island” to be sort of a musical successor to “Gerudo Valley.” In fact I almost wrote on both songs at once when I featured Gerudo Valley.
Most of what these two songs share lies in their southwest/Latino musical origin. Both have a percussion groundwork of claps (and in Dragon Roost’s case, castanets) overlaid by a harmonic foundation of an acoustic guitar. The songs deviate from there, though; where Gerudo Valley’s star is its rapid guitar plucking, Dragon Roost’s main melody is created by the wonderful sounds of a pan flute.
Either way you look at it, these songs have a very festive and exotic feel to them. Dragon Roost really sets itself apart in one way though; it seems to soar. With the airy sound of the pan flute and the lighter foundation, it feels less grounded than Gerudo Valley and could even work as a flying theme.
Soaring and carefree, at a glance the music of Dragon Roost Island seems to be a perfect compliment to the island’s inhabitants who soar the skies. Rapid, exotic, and festive, the song also captures the adventurous feeling that pervades the Zelda series and its locations.
Some part of me wonders just how well this tune works as an island theme, though. Compared to some others like “Outset Island,” it seems different in some ways and does not quite match some of the same currents set by the rest of the Great Sea’s islands. Despite any doubts I had, it occurred to me that this is exactly the point of Dragon Roost Island. While not quite wild and untamed, Dragon Roost still is not necessarily a homely, quiet island. It is supposed to be different from the others. In the end, all things considered, I feel that this song works perfectly for what it sets out to do.
What are your thoughts on “Dragon Root Island”? Do you also consider it a successor to Gerudo Valley? Is it your favorite tune from The Wind Waker or are there other tracks that take the cake? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!