The Legend of Music #03: The Fire Temple Controversy
Posted on April 08 2012 by Mases Hagopian
That’s right! Another Legend of Music is here. If you haven’t realized, or simply haven’t been around to notice, I will be writing these on a weekly basis and they will come out every Sunday morning. There are probably some of you know exactly what this particular article is about from the title alone. If you have absolutely no idea, then you’re in for a real treat! Join me after the jump as I explore one of the most musically controversial underscores in all of Zelda.
The Fire Temple Controversy
A lot of fans enjoy both the music and dungeon structure from Ocarina of Time’s Fire Temple. However, there is a little secret contained within its music. The Myth is that the original music featured chanting that sounded like an Islamic prayer and that people complained, forcing Nintendo to change the Fire Temple’s music in later versions of the game. I decided to do some research into the myth and find out exactly how much of it was actually true.
For some perspective, check out the original Fire Temple music, and the revised Fire Temple Music. The diffrence is heard at about 40 seconds.
Firstly, the assumption that the Fire Temple music simply sounds like an Islamic prayer is pretty much spot on. In fact, there are many fans who claim that it is an actual quotation from the Qur’an. While the words themselves are very skewered and hard to understand, there are several people who have attempted to translate them. I won’t put any of the full translations here, since I cannot prove any of them are legitimate, but suffice to say, the phrase “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah” shows up quite a few times.
The second part of the myth is that the reason that the music was changed was because of complaints about the music after the original version released. From my research, I do not think that this is not entirely true. While the later versions of the game did have a revised chant-less underscore, these changes were made before the release of the original game itself (this was found by accessing the debug menu of different versions). Also, I found no historical evidence that there were ever any complaints about the music that Nintendo took seriously. Besides, even if there were complaints about the music, they were not the reason for the change since all of the changes had already been made to the subsequent versions of the game. It is unknown why, but Nintendo went ahead and sold the original copies of the game. It’s possible that disposing of these copies would have pushed back the release date of the game; however, this is all just speculation.
Does my Ocarina of Time have this original music?
There are three main releases of Ocarina of Time. There is version 1.0, 1.1., and 1.2 (the Game Cube and Virtual Console releases are modified versions of version 1.2). Only versions 1.0 and 1.1 have the original fire temple music; every version after that has a revised version. If you want to know what version cartridge you have, all you have to do is look at the back. On the back of the cartridge, there should be a sticker with a lot of meaningless information that no one reads. However, on the right side of the sticker there should be some numbers (and possibly a letter) etched into the sticker itself. If it has two numbers (##), then you have version 1.0. If it has two numbers and an ‘A’ (##A), then you have version 1.1. If it has two numbers and a ‘B’ (##B), then you have version 1.2. Again, the original music is only on versions 1.0 and 1.1.
Source: Zelda Speed Runs.
Which Fire Temple Music is better?
Obviously, both versions of the Fire Temple music are official, but which one is better? How different are they really? Firstly, both versions actually have the same background material; only the melody is different. A rough mock up of that background looks a bit like this:
Now, let’s take a look at the original music that you can only find on versions 1.0 and 1.1. It’s a bit hard to discern because of heavy reverb, but the main melodic line looks something like this:
How about the revised version? The melody from versions 1.2 and on looks something like this:
You don’t need to be a musician to see that both of the original and revised parts are very similar. In fact, the only main difference between the two is that they changed the digital instrument (MIDI) from a very chant like sound to a more general male voice sound. Some people claim that the revised Fire Temple music is a remix of the Shadow Temple music. This is not true, at least not technically. You could argue that the new Fire Temple music used sound samples from the Shadow Temple, but you certainly could not argue that the whole thing is a remix. Besides, it’s pretty obvious that the revised Fire Temple music is heavily influenced by its predecessor.
As for which version is better, that is a matter of opinion. Personally, I feel like the revised version is dumbed down from the original and whenever I put and Ocarina of Time cartridge in my N64 I always check the back to make sure its version 1.0 or 1.1 (yes, I have a lot of Ocarina of Time cartridges). What are your thoughts on the original music against the revised music? Do you prefer one to the other?
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