The folks at IGN recently had a chance to talk to Skyward Sword producer Eiji Aonuma and composer Koji Kondo before a 25th anniversary concert and asked them a few questions about upcoming Skyward Sword. The questions ranged from why they decided to add Skyloft and the flying aspect into the game to developing music for the series and what went into that development. They ask a few questions about the music in not only Skyward Sword but the entire series. Not only music for the gameplay but incorporating musical instruments into the gameplay and how it slowly became a mainstay of the series. They even talk about just how different it is when working with an orchestra to produce music for a game than it was in the older days when it was all electronic. Jump inside for more details.
IGN: Specifically regarding music and gameplay, stemming from Ocarina of time up until now players have been able to play instruments in Zelda games. I’m curious how you go about developing music that not only sounds good but at the same time a player can actually recreate on a controller?
Kondo: 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.
IGN: So Skyward Sword now features orchestrated music for the Zelda franchise. I was curious, it’s my understanding that not every portion of the game is orchestrated so I was curious how you determine what musical, music entries were going to be orchestrated and which ones wouldn’t be?
Kondo: So one of the, one of the, what’s unique in the characteristics of the orchestra is the grand scope of the music that you get from an orchestra as well as its ability to really kind of express emotion and so what we focused in on with this game was using the orchestra to help really sort of provide that grand epic feel to some of those areas where you have some of the sweeping vistas and things like that and then additionally in things like the cinema scenes and some of the more kind of emotional moments in the game using the orchestra performance to really enhance those moments.
IGN: There are twenty-five years of history of Zelda and millions of fans have come to love certain things about it. If I’m on a Loftwing, people are inevitably going to say “where’s Epona?” And if I’m traveling through the sky and I don’t hear the Hyrule overworld theme people are going to say well “where’s that music?” Do you ever feel restricted in the sense that people really want some of these things in every single Zelda game? Do you feel that pressure in terms of making sure these classic elements are in the games?
Aonuma: I’ll let Kondo-san talk about the music afterwards but from my perspective, and Ifeel kind of bad saying this, but I generally don’t try to take into account the players expectations of what they want from a Zelda game when making a new one.
The reason for that is… players don’t necessarily know what they want – we need to be able to surprise them. So where we put a lot of our focus is on creating those new experiences that are going to make the game feel fresh and different. At the same time we’re trying to retain what makes a Zelda game unique. Where we might kind of pay a little bit of attention to details like that is less about how can we deliver what we’re expecting and more about how can we betray their expectations. That might be through new ideas. It might be taking elements they want and expect to be in there, and putting them in the game in a way that surprises them – or in a place where they’re not expecting it.
I think a good example is taking some of those themes or elements and having them tucked away in a place where somebody’s not expecting to find it. Then when it does pop up, it’s a big surprise for them. From my perspective it’s really less about trying to meet all of their expectations, because trying to put everything that everybody wants out of a Zelda game into one game is going to be very difficult. At the same time focusing more on new elements is where the importance is for me, but still working with our team and conveying to them the importance of keeping some of those little touches in there that will keep people happy and at the same time surprise them.
Kondo: Well I’ve worked on all of the Zelda games up to Majora’s Mask and after that it’s been more of the younger composers that have been creating the music for the game and they I think have always sort of struggled with how much of the legacy music do we bring back and retain in the new games and how much of it do we create new and my advice to them is always you know, you need to, you need to be able to judge and say that you know, we need to do new things musically and both you know with the themes and things like that but find sort of again those moments that we can still leverage, you know, the classic Zelda themes and some of those classic melodies while still trying to find a way to breathe new life into them.
A good example of that is the main theme for the game. This time when you play it backwards is actually Zelda’s lullabye and I was really happy to find out that the team had done that and a little disappointed that the news broke so soon before launch.
The rest of the article can be viewed here
They actually had a few interesting things to say about the music of the series. Normally I like to hear about the inspirations behind the work of developers and this was another great look into their craft. I was a little intrigued to hear that somewhere deeper into Skyward Sword you will actually hear singing in the game instead of just music. I have never actually given it much thought until now, but that does sound very interesting that they would add it. One thing that stood out to me was how they mentioned the music being added in Ocarina of Time as a form of magic since they wished to add something but still remain different from the usual RPG magic system.
So what do you think? Did you Agree with Aonuma on his views? Ever wonder what went into the music of Skyward Sword? Let us know in the comments below.
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