Breath of the Wild composers on changing up Zelda’s music formula and much more
Abe: Because the number of songs I composed is small, there aren’t too many examples I can draw from, but I think I’d go with Revali’s theme from the DLC2 demo. When I joined, the game was already finished, so there was an already existing personality for him. But because I was able to create something new in the demo, I took the music from the flying training grounds and furnished it with elements of sounds already in the game world. I think that combination process worked really well.
As for the song I liked most from my time as a user, it was one Iwata was overseeing: ‘Sheikah Tower Activation’. Whenever that song plays, the camera pans out and shows the world around you, allowing the player to realize again just how large the world really is. For that reason, I think the song represents the game really well. But the problem is that because the towers are limited, once you have activated all them you don’t get to hear that song again. But now we have the CD, I can listen to it as many times as I want, which is great! (Laughs)
Iwata: Just as you said, initially you’re happy because you’re beginning to open up the map, but in the end I thought it would be good if the player felt a little bit of loneliness. For this game I think the song that really makes you feel the size of the world is the main theme, so I decided to use an arrangement of that. As for me personally, I like to mix lots of different phrases together and splice them into other themes, so I think I’d like players to listen most to the Ichikara Village (Tarrey Town) theme, because this is the best example of that process. As the town has lots of different people coming from different areas, the theme has lots of diverse phrases implemented to represent that diversity, so please check that one out. From the others, I think Kataoka’s ‘Guardian Battle’ theme is very meaningful for me. It was a song composed right at the start of development, but whenever I hear the intro I get a sudden urge to escape! (Laughs) At the time I was very bad at the game and every time I met a Guardian I was defeated, so that was a song that haunted even my dreams.
Kataoka: I think that’s what I was aiming for! (Laughs) When you are discovered by a guardian and you hear that high pitched beeping, I wanted it to hit home at some mental level, so that even when the battle is just beginning, the player is still wrapped up in a sense of fear.
As for me, I prefer many of the songs overseen by the others more than my own. First off, my favorite is probably is Wakai’s memory scene music for the Master Sword. Ultimately the theme ended up being not so prominent, but it has depth and I like it a lot.
Wakai: That’s because I have a habit of trying to hide things! (Laughs)
Kataoka: I like a lot of the songs Iwata oversaw, but if I was to raise two in particular they would be ‘Links Memories: Despair’ and the epilogue theme. The despair theme also runs through the epilogue, and the fact that these two opposing feelings of success and despair are together definitely leaves an impression.
Iwata: What I really wanted to do there was express that the despair had finally dissipated and could be replaced with hope. Despite that, I didn’t want this feeling to be present right at the start of the game, so I thought it would be better for the overworld music to stick more with an accent of sadness.
Kataoka: You should definitely listen to the two and compare them. Also, I really like Abe’s ‘The Master Sword Stone’. I think there was a definite chance of making this song kind of cheesy, but actually it has a very fresh, clear and innovative feel.
Abe: Thank you for saying so. This is for the scene where the sword is taken from the stone, but the fact is that for a lot of the game the stone monument is really far away from Link. Because of that I think we wanted to get the atmosphere of the monument but also the feeling of distance through the echo of ringing bells.
Wakai: I asked everyone to create so many pieces, so I think I’ll just talk about the ones that left the longest impression. Kataoka said he likes the field battle music the best of all, and I remember this was a difficult one right from the beginning. I can remember asking for the song to be changed many times for me so that you really had a sense of the beat running through.
One of Iwata’s I remember best is ‘Do you remember?’ This line is the one delivered when Link meets Zelda again after he has defeated Ganon and a hundred have passed. Iwata spent a lot of time creating the right song for that line, but in order to give the line even more prominence…
Iwata: …You asked me to cut the music and make it soundless.
Wakai: Right. And then you took some time adding little bits of music here and there to make it just right, and it still definitely leaves an impression.
Iwata: By hollowing out the music in order to emphasize the speech, I think ultimately that gave more life to both the words and the music. I’m glad we changed it.
Wakai: I also agree with what Kataoka said about Abe’s theme for the master sword stone. Because it serves as an introduction, there are some similarities with it and the song for the Sheikah Towers, but I still think they remain distinctive. Also, I didn’t tell him to do it, so there was a little bit of: ‘oh, so this is also possible!’ (Laughs)
Also – this is just in general – but we did a lot of balancing work on the CD between the music and the voices, so I think when you are listening to the CD you get much more of a feel for how the song really is. That’s something I hope listeners can enjoy.
Message to the Fans
Kataoka: First off I’d like to thank those who bought this CD. With the BGM and the sound affects I think you can almost smell the air, see the vibrancy of nature and experience all those other things that go along with that sense of adventure. Within this CD you also have all of those sounds meticulously recorded. If the scenes the music produces can be useful to listeners in any way, then I can think of nothing that would make me happier.
Iwata: This may have already been said, but there are so many playful, hidden elements to enjoy on this CD. We’ve alluded to some of them even in this conversation, but I hope listeners can find some of them for themselves.
Abe: Because the soundtrack follows the same narrative pattern as the game, it’s possible to listen to the CD and imagine you are playing the game again. Because of that, I think even people who have completed the game can listen to this CD over and over and make new discoveries.
Wakai: Games are a product that combine sound and moving images to deliver something to the player, but with music alone I think it is more of a direct communication between sound and the player. Like when we talked about the spliced phrases from older games – if people take the time to search them out, that’d make me extremely happy. And because this collection contains the BGM all the way up to the second DLC, for those who are listening and not recognizing some of the music, please go back the game again and enjoy the new content too!
Translation by provided by Corks on behalf of Nintendo Everything
If you use any of this translation, please be sure to source Nintendo Everything. Do not copy its full contents.