Zelda Music: The Original Samples In Ocarina Of Time’s Soundtrack
Like many Nintendo games, Ocarina of Time’s iconic soundtrack uses sound library instrument samples, as is the case with other beloved Zelda music.
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A major part of the lasting popularity of Nintendo games is the studio’s incredible library of music. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s soundtrack is evidence enough that Nintendo spares no expense when it comes to hiring its composers. But fans of Ocarina of Time’s legendary soundtrack might be surprised to learn some of its most iconic sounds were sampled from commercial sound libraries.
The most well-known example of this sampling is the Islamic chanting heard in the original version of Ocarina’s Fire Temple theme. The chants appeared in certain early prints of Ocarina of Time cartridges, but Nintendo removed them in subsequent runs, likely to mitigate potential controversy. However, the Fire Temple theme is far from the only Zelda song that includes samples from commercial sound libraries.
As reported by GameTrailers, many of the samples used in Ocarina of Time’s music were discovered by members of the HCS Forum community. For example, the background melody of Ocarina’s Water Temple theme appears to be composed entirely of a single sample – “Pad 36 C4,” from the Best Service Gigapack sound library – played at different pitches. It’s a simple sample, yet composer Koji Kondo’s creative use of the sound is part of what gives the Water Temple theme its mysterious and aquatic atmosphere.
How Zelda Music Used Third-Party Sound Samples
Similarly, the “boing” sound in the Goron City theme is also a sample, “Per_co14,” from the same library. Kondo added reverb and altered the sound’s pitch to create the catchy beat Zelda fans know and love today. Even the gastrointestinal noises in the Inside Jabu-Jabu’s Belly dungeon started as a sample from one of these libraries. The GameTrailers video above includes almost five minutes of similar examples, comparing Zelda music to its sound sources.
While some samples were significantly altered from their original forms, some, like the bongos in the background of the Shadow Temple theme, sound remarkably similar to their sources. The Shadow Temple’s version of the sample is slowed and occasionally fades in and out, but the basic beat was hardly altered at all, and Kondo’s composition consists mostly of extra noises layered on top to complement it. It’s strange to think the focal point of the track, in a way, wasn’t created by Nintendo.
Aside from Ocarina of Time’s songs, other Zelda music also pulled audio samples from sound libraries in a similar fashion. For example, the HCS Forum community attributed one of the voices in the background of Majora’s Mask’s Woodfall Temple theme to a sample from the Zero G Ethnic Flavors library. Like the Shadow Temple theme, this part of the track sounds so similar to the sample that it’s hard to hear the difference. Even Twilight Princess used commercial sound effects; the chimes in the background of the Twilight theme come from the PowerFX New World Order 2 library. Zelda music might be some of the most memorable in the industry, but the soundtracks of The Legend of Zelda series proves inspiration can come from bizarre and unexpected places.