ZeldaBlog

OrchestrHATED

April 25th, 2006 at 8:22 pm by Ice

For my first Zeldablog post, I was going to strap on the rubber gloves and dive deep into the philosophical chasm that is Majora’s Mask, but I thought of something somewhat more appropriate. My activities in the community for the past 12 years (jeez I’m old) have primarily been music-oriented until recently (unless ZeldaRadio counts), so it would be more fitting if I were to do a piece on a recent “controversy” about the nature of the Twilight Princess soundtrack.

First, a brief introduction, for those of you who don’t know me. My name is Ice, and in addition to being the webmaster of several Zelda sites, I’ve been a tenacious video game remixer (primarily Zelda) since 1994-ish, just a few years after I got that neat little Casio keyboard. I’ve been making MIDIs since that time, and added live music and MP3s to my activities just a couple years after that. I’ve gone through countless pseudonyms throughout my Zelda remixing career, the most recent one being SecondChance. So needless to say, I’ve been fairly familiar with Zelda soundtrack areas for quite awhile.

There has been buzz (as far as I’m concerned, nothing is official until I’m holding the game in my hands) that the soundtrack to Twilight Princess will feature actual audio recorded from an actual symphony. This would mark the first time in a full Zelda game that this was done. This bit of info has met with a mixed bag of responses; people who are overjoyed and people who are worried.

What surprised me was the intense negative reaction that this information has brought about from some corners. There are a significant number of MIDI-purists, apparently … and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that! The music for the series up to this point has been in MIDI format, due primarily to the limitations of the hardware. Even though the N64 could feature digital music, it was the small cart size that kept the N64 Zelda games from featuring it (the producing team had a hard enough time keeping the artists under control, much less the music team!) The GameCube (and soon the Revolution) is where we’ll be able to see a full-fledged symphonic soundtrack, and in keeping with the “realistic” nature of the new Zelda, the soundtrack is likely to be played by “real instruments”.

On the other side of the fence, many people feel that nothing compares to the sound of the actual instruments being played, and they could very well be right. It could certainly add a touch of realism to the game, and realism appears to be one of Nintendo’s goals for the title.

Throughout Zelda’s history, there have definitely been pieces of music in the games that sound as if they were definitely intended for an orchestra. After all, Koji Kondo, who has written about half of Zelda’s music, was classically trained (as are most composers). Due to the series’ tendency to repeat classic themes, it will certainly be a blessing to many when the orchestra kicks with songs we’ve been dying to hear in symphonic format.

One thing that I would like to point out, though, is the fact that when using digital music (as opposed to MIDI), it is much harder to get that neat effect where the music changes depending on what’s happening in the game. Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker had some very neat musical cues when certain events happened in battle and whatnot. Getting that same dynamic quality is possible, but certainly more “resource hungry” if it is done in ways that it has traditionally been done. But we’ll see what they have up their sleeves.

A soundtrack played primarily by an orchestra could certainly give a more cinematic feel to a game that seems to rely heavily on visuals. Perhaps this game will top what Ocarina of Time set out to accomplish with its ambitious cut-scene and story-telling format? The music is a very important part of the cinematic equation … try watching a horror movie without the music!

For people who say that a departure from MIDI, which Zelda has used for 20 years, is certain doom, you may be right. Consider however, that Nintendo-based titles have already used some symphonic tracks, and have done so successfully. Many would agree that Super Smash Bros. Melee had a great soundtrack, and some of that was played by an orchestra.

A few of the comments I’ve read have the right attitude, in my opinion. “I don’t care about the technical aspects, as long as it fits the game.” Bravo!

We’ll see what the creators have up their sleeves. They’re obviously quite competent. The true test will come when we hear the actual game in its entirety for ourselves.

Filed under Twilight Princess

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29 Messages from the Gossip Stones about “OrchestrHATED”

    Comments

    MIDI can do some amazing things in the right hands, yet technically it will always remain shy of MP3 (or rather waveform) audio. Anyone who disagrees needs to head over to OCRemix or VGMix. ;) Be that as it may, whichever way the cookie crumbles, Koji Kondo and company tend to do a very awesome job in orchestrating it no matter the medium, and I say that whatever their decision… I’m completely down with that.

    I agree TML.

    And OCRemix rules!

    • 3. Ice says:

    I agree with TML, but I feel that I should note that most of the remixes on OCR and VGMIX are actually written in MIDI format, then played back with expensive sound modules =)

    But yeah, the team will do a great job like they always do.

    I agree as well MIDI can do great stuff. So it isn’t as good as mp3s and such, but still that doesn’t mean that it was not good. MIDI’s can still have the same effect as all types of music. In the end doesn’t just really come to MIDI is a form a music just like your MP3s?

    Ya know, I bet half the people in the world who don’t know about the difference that’s being made won’t notice it. It’s not like they’re changing the music style, just the way they do it. I mean I read somethings about this that by the way people go on about it, you’d think they were turning zelda into a turn based combat system. I mean for pete’s sake its just a fricking music format. It’s not like the game sdtyle is changing, or even the mood of the music. That said, they likely will change the mood of the music slightly to make it fit with the new “realistic” style of the game. But then again, how many people play Zelda for the music anyway? I mean it’s background music, you shouldn’t care so much about it. What worries me is what they said about TP being the last zelda game as we know them.

    For every Zelda game I’ve played, the music has remained a strong, consistent benefit, so I’m not too concerned, if at all. I trust them to do the music as well as any other Zelda game, and highly doubt that my trust will be misplaced.

    Should still be interesting nonetheless.

    Light Link 007 said:

    But then again, how many people play Zelda for the music anyway? I mean it’s background music, you shouldn’t care so much about it.

    Being somewhat ‘musically trained’ (and by that, I mean playing in my highschool band), I tend to spend a lot of time critically listening to music from various mediums; especially videogames.

    I might spend hours on end in front of my TV screen listening to videogame background music. I believe that although music is not as important as, say, gameplay and graphics, it does add a dimension to videogames that would not be there otherwise. As a band student, I know from experience how much time and effort it takes to write, compose and perform pieces of music. It is an aspect of videogames that I find very important. And it ruffles my feathers a little when people talk about gaming music lightly. So with that said, I guess you can count me (to some degree) as one of those few who ‘plays Zelda for the music’.

    Yes, I still love a game with a good plot and fun gameplay. Yes, music isn’t everything. But that is why Zelda has been one of my all-time favorite videogame series. It takes all these elements and blends them perfectly to make an experience that one cannot have in any other game.

    Anyway, going back on topic:

    Nintendo doesn’t have to choose one format over the other, does it? I personally think that Twilight Princess will feature both MIDI and live audio for its sound track. MIDI might be used for overworld and dungeon themes to be able to transition into battle music (or weather changes, time of day changes, etc.) smoothly. Then they might use the live orchestra for important moments of the game.

    ..

    By the way. Hello there. I’m Unlimited Lumpia. I’ve been visiting the blog since its inception and yet was never inclined to post my own comments. But seeing that this particular one was about topic very dear to me (ie. music), I figured this would be the perfect time to start posting.

    Nice first article, Ice. Personally, it’s not something that concerns me - live orchestrated music would be great, but as long as the music is good I don’t mind which format they use.

    For me, this step into orchestrated music will propell the Zelda series into the same musical realm as Final Fantasy. Who wouldn’t want to hear Ganon’s theme with Latin lyrics?

    I agree though, that MIDI and other formats are good, it’s just that they are limited in capability. Besides, switching to orchestral will reset the tone of the series from “legendary” to “epic,” as orchestral tends to do.

    Orchestras are made of humans, therefore subject to sigltly-disturbing errors even after several rerecords.

    MIDI for the win!

    Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy games dont seem to have any problems when it comes to the music reflecting the in-game action so I dont have too many worries. When it comes to the music i like the MIDI’s and the Orchestra Music so maybe a mix of the two could work.

    I think the music is what makes a good mood in Zelda.In the Shadow Temple (this was a few years ago) the music was so good, it kept me really scared when playing, the song played while Link’s Grandma was so sad I almost cried, so Nintendo did well in making it great, otherwise, I’d go adventuring more or not care about Grandma at all.Music is also cool, like the OoT sub-boss music, that was cool, so was the boss music for Gohma in TWW.And speaking of FF, in Kingdom Hearts, whenever I listened to Sephiroth’s music, it made him more menacing before I learned more about him (he’s madder than Hitler for *Navi*s sake) and accidently made a wierd mock-up (if you like to hear it, then e-mail me) Anyways, I’d like to hear orchestra music.

    Music creates an atmosphere, as long as it has the zelda feel to it I don’t really think it matters if it is orchestrated or not…but thats my opinion =)

    • 14. Ice says:

    SmashManiac said:

    Orchestras are made of humans, therefore subject to sigltly-disturbing errors even after several rerecords.

    MIDI for the win!

    I love MIDI as much as the next guy, but some people might argue that the “human touch” (things such as the beat being slightly off every once in awhile) isn’t disturbing, but can be very expressive and aesthetically pleasing.

    Ice said:

    SmashManiac said:

    Orchestras are made of humans, therefore subject to sigltly-disturbing errors even after several rerecords.

    MIDI for the win!

    I love MIDI as much as the next guy, but some people might argue that the “human touch” (things such as the beat being slightly off every once in awhile) isn’t disturbing, but can be very expressive and aesthetically pleasing.

    Also, MIDI has to be formulated by Humans as well so there can be screw ups as well in MIDI. Also it makes it harder to port if you want to make it into a collectors disk, Like OoT and Master Quest, some of the music ws a little screwed up and overly electronic on the GCN but not on the N64.

    Also I agree with Ice, I’m a bagpipe student so I know how to appreciate the “errors” its damn near impossible to get everyone perfectly tuned and on the exact same not and at the exact same time, that’s the magic of’em, same with Orchestra’s, of course you have to get close or it’s crap but that said I really don’t care to much one way or the other how it’s done.

    Oh, Lumpia, what kind of bird are you? :)

    Unlike most of you, I am actually looking forward to hearing the Orchastrated Score of Twilight Princess. This will be interesting in so many levels, especially during cinematic and boss stages. I really can’t wait till i experiece it. I know midi is more precise, but we can’t give Nintedo any faults for trying their best to provide live music integrated into the game, ESPECIALLY AFTER WAITING SOOO LOOONG! LOL, I am really looking forward to this new compliment to the LOZ series!

    Looks like I have been behind, heh. I like Mpg3 better than midi simply because I can set it on a CD to hear in the car.

    LordDragonClaw said:

    For me, this step into orchestrated music will propell the Zelda series into the same musical realm as Final Fantasy. Who wouldn’t want to hear Ganon’s theme with Latin lyrics?

    Actually, me. It would be completely out of context to use Latin lyrics in a game where the ancient language is Hylian, especially when it is so clear that Hyrule is a completely different realm to our own. Now, Ganon’s theme with Hylian lyrics I [i]would[/i] be interested in. ;)

    • 19. Ice says:

    Light Link 007 said:

    Also, MIDI has to be formulated by Humans as well so there can be screw ups as well in MIDI.

    The main difference is, though, that MIDI errors can be fixed by pressing a couple buttons … fixing a single instrument in an orchestral recording is usually impossible!

    • 20. JC says:

    Bah…who cares what the music type it is. As long as I don’t hear 8-Bit beeps in a 3D game while I’m busting some serious ass, I’m good.

    thebawp said:

    Actually, me. It would be completely out of context to use Latin lyrics in a game where the ancient language is Hylian, especially when it is so clear that Hyrule is a completely different realm to our own. Now, Ganon’s theme with Hylian lyrics I [i]would[/i] be interested in. ;)

    Point. I’ll agree. Hylian lyrics to Ganon’s theme would work better. Let’s just hope that they’ve finished rounding off all the edges of the Hylian language so that it sounds more epic…

    Zen Blade said:

    … I am actually looking forward to hearing the Orchastrated Score of Twilight Princess. This will be interesting in so many levels, especially during cinematic and boss stages. … I know midi is more precise, but we can’t give Nintendo any faults for trying their best to provide live music integrated into the game, ESPECIALLY AFTER WAITING SOOO LOOONG!

    You know what would be awesome? Recording live music, then adding Midi tracks to enhance certain aspects. I actually know someone who is trying to do that with the band he’s started. They’re only at amatuer status, but he is trying something that isn’t very common (or as far as I can tell).

    • 22. Ice says:

    LordDragonClaw said:

    You know what would be awesome? Recording live music, then adding Midi tracks to enhance certain aspects. I actually know someone who is trying to do that with the band he’s started. They’re only at amatuer status, but he is trying something that isn’t very common (or as far as I can tell).

    That’s actually the way most pop/rock music is done these days, from Kelly Clarkson/Backstreet Boys all the way through The Killers/Green Day. It’s often used in live performances also, as it can control music notes, lighting, and mixer events all at once.

    It’s certainly not an easy thing to do on an amatuer level though … best of luck to your friend’s band!

    music is one of the most important elements in pretty much everything,especially rpg’s.the music reflects on the situation at hand,and if done right,makes everything feel alot more real (just ask lyon from fire emblem :( ) and adds to the story.also the style of the music has to fit with the look of the game.TP might sound good with an orchestra based music system since TP looks pretty real and orchestras are real,just as long as it still feels like zelda music.but I agree with Light Link 007 that alot of people wont even know the difference :D .

    Light Link 007 said:

    Oh, Lumpia, what kind of bird are you? :)

    I’m a peacock.

    An angry, flame-breathing, videogame-music loving peacock.

    Peronsally, I think live orcastraited music would be wonderful. The Lord of the Rings movies had orcatraited music, nothing else would have fit. I compair it to that because of the artwork and more mature themes in this Zelda. It’s more dynamic and intricate and real than any Zelda game has been up to this point, graphic wise. Therefore, it makes sense that the music should be something as different and new to Zelda as the graphics.

    Just cant wait for Twilight Princess anymore, “I WANT IT, I WANT IT, I WANT IT”, lol sooory about that little outburst.

    BTW Hyrulian Hero judging from a Screen-Shot in a magazine from Kingdom Hearts 2 it seems like Sephiroth and Cloud are gonna go one-on-one in a “VERY” cool sword fight… maybe Sora helps.

    To Robert: I’m not telling, you gotta pay me to do so.And in American dollars too.
    Dr.H.Hero:I got him *chases Robert*
    To subject: Orchestra and MIDI are different, and they are also hard to tell the diference, so I’ll be satisfied.And speaking of Ganondorf, imagine his theme in bagpipes (I’ve heard them in public atleast twice, so it would seem intersting) And a lot of songs from the old Zelda Games have been brought back one time or another, like the many like the bgm for the boss battles in ALttP, are used in FSA, same with the chase music used early in the game.The Final battle music is used in TWW when fighting Shadow Ganon (I listen to both when playing both games) its TWW version that’s just a tad different, when you two play volley ball is when it changes.A lot of stuuf from the past are used in the present, and music is going to be, and always, used again.Another song that would sound interesting is the Song of Healing on the Saxophone.

    Hyrulian Hero… you do realise that the £ is stronger than the $ right now and if I payed you in British Pounds you would have much, much “MUCH” more money, lol.

    *NAVI* I didn’t know that, never mind then, still, I’m not telling.Just for that…*goes to the closest organ and plays Ganondorf’s Theme, then Shadow Tingle comes out of nowhere and terrorizes Robert*