Posted on November 08 2011 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
“I only composed one song for the game and it’s the song that you hear at the very beginning when you turn the game on and there’s the movie that plays that tells sort of the history or the back story of the game.” – Koji Kondo
He may be one of the most famous composers in video game history, but it’s unique seeing that he only truly composed one song for the upcoming Zelda title. That’s not to say he didn’t do various sound effect compositions and the like, or that he didn’t help in the direction of the music. He simply wasn’t responsible for the creation of 99% of the musical tracks available in the game, regardless of his advisory. Of course, he had a lot more to say about music, the harp, and how it works within Skyward Sword.
“For the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, from the very beginning what we started to think about was what can we do from a play control standpoint with Wii MotionPlus that would make it feel good for the player to be able to play an instrument,” Aonuma told us. “And we experimented with a lot of different instruments but ultimately the conclusion that we came to was that sort of the, the sort of back and forth strumming motion that you do when you play a harp is something that would be very simple for a player to do, to time that to the music.
“With that we would be able to allow them to very simply feel good performing music and that was a proposal that we got from the sound team itself and so then we started to look at implementing that. Of course in Ocarina of Time the character Sheik had a harp, but we’ve taken that harp and now we are allowing Link to play that harp with Wii MotionPlus and allowing the player to play that.”
“Well one example is what we’ve done in Skyward Sword with the instrument, which I think is different from what we’ve done in other games, and that is that the harp instrument is something that’s capable of playing a melody but it’s also kind of capable of playing sort of a harmony or playing along with the song as well,” Kondo said. “One thing that we’ve done in Skyward Sword that’s different from how we’ve done it in the past games is there will be times where you’ll be playing songs but the harp is also designed so that you can play it really at any point in the game.
“As you kind of strum back and forth you’ll play music that will work with whatever background music happens to be playing at that time so actually Link can, while he’s running through the world can have the harp out and he can be playing the harp while Link is running around and so I think it’s something that’s very interesting and is an example of how we’re continually trying to look at new ways to apply both instruments and music to the Zelda series.”
“I only composed one song for the game and it’s the song that you hear at the very beginning when you turn the game on and there’s the movie that plays that tells sort of the history or the back story of the game. I did the song for that piece but generally when we’re working on a Zelda game it’s less about what sections do I want to work on, and more of looking at some of the new experiences in the game. We look at those new or fresh moments and how can we bring more people in to provide their perspective on what’s going to have sort of the best sound for those moments.
“What makes music special in a Zelda game is the idea that, that within those, as the games are changing and evolving and you have those new moments in every game, we’re continually trying to find sort of these new perspectives that will help deliver the excitement of those moments to the player.”
“So not just with Skyward Sword, but really with all of the games, whenever we start working on sound we always try to think what are some different things that we can do musically,” he said. “What are some new musical ideas that we can apply? Something that we’ve done with Skyward Sword that I would say is fresh for this game is we really looked at taking various themes and applying them to the individual characters. So you may hear common themes throughout the game, but they may change depending on who you’re near or who you are talking to. Another thing we’ve done is, as you play deeper into the game you’ll find scenes where people are actually singing songs, which is something that we haven’t done in Zelda games in the past.
“Of course the development tools are something that have changed dramatically over the years, certainly from the very earliest days. Now it’s much easier using the advanced tools to be able to take your musical ideas and very quickly translate them into something that can work in the game, which is very nice.
“The breadth of options that you have in terms of sounds and sort of the palate that you’re able to use is much broader now, which is wonderful because you have so many options in trying to create the music. Where the new challenge comes is among all of the possible options that you have in front of you. It still remains important to take the music you’re creating and be able to, from across that broad spectrum of music and notes, bring something together that truly represents both the experience for the player and the emotion that you’re trying to convey.”
Some of this mirrors information we have gotten from older interviews, but it’s definitely interesting to get Kondo’s take on what makes Zelda great, particularly when it comes to music. Despite only composing one song, it’s clear he has had a massive influence on the musical direction Skyward Sword has taken.