While the Legend of Zelda franchise has some undeniably strong facets that continue to grow with each iteration of the franchise, one thing that cannot be overstated is how well the music continues to encapsulate a sense of hope, wonder, and daring for the adventures of Link. With a franchise spanning 36 years thus far, and Tears of the Kingdom on the horizon, the composers continue to generate consistent riffs that stay in our heads well after the calamity has passed. Here’s our list of the ten best original Legend of Zelda tracks so far.
10. Ballad of the Goddess (Skyward Sword)
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was the first title of the franchise, where the music was composed with a live orchestra instead of synthesized instruments after Miyamoto insisted upon its inclusion. The result is an emotionally-charged soundtrack that brings about a far greater level of depth and a new standard for the franchise. The Ballad of the Goddess is actually Zelda’s Lullaby played backward, with an appropriate level of panache added onto the underlying tune.
9. Kass’s Theme (Breath of the Wild)
Breath of the Wild did not slouch when it came to music composition, and Kass is one of the very few characters to bring a Slavic staple of music, the accordion, into a fantasy universe. There’s no denying this Rito played a beautiful tune, marking a puzzle that needed to be solved to find another shrine. Kass’s typical proximity to a stables lent itself to a very atmospheric vibe that would invite simply putting down the controller and appreciating the scenery for a few minutes.
8. Midna’s Lament (Twilight Princess)
Twilight Princess has retained its crown of being the ‘darkest’ Legend of Zelda yet, and the track Midna’s Lament seems to underscore this accurate achievement. A melodic and regretful piano piece, the track Midna’s Lament explores a range of emotions that manages to encapsulate the mischievous character surprisingly well. It never quite develops past its opening keys and feels like it’s consistently going to reach for something farther, but perhaps that’s best suited for the mood of Twilight Princess.
7. Song of Storms (Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask)
The Song of Storms slapped so well that Nintendo opted to place it in both Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Playing this song on the ocarina (or mask-specific instrument for Majora’s Mask) brings in some rain, which is helpful for completing some puzzles or simply setting the mood. Turns out that the old man was right — we never did forget this song.
6. Dragon Roost Island (Wind Waker)
No matter where you fall on the judging of Wind Waker on its merits, there’s no denying that Dragon Roost Island is the hit track of Wind Waker. It’s also where the Wind Waker itself, the orchestral conductors baton, ostensibly comes into its own in terms of purpose and functionality. It’s also the first time we’re introduced to the Rito race, which comes back in Breath of the Wild.
5. Gerudo Valley (Ocarina of Time)
Whether you’re dressing up as a woman to enter or trying to hookshot your way across a broken bridge, Gerudo Valley tends to be a unique vista when Link gets to it. In Ocarina of Time, however, it was an entirely different beast — containing bandits and the hometown of Ganon, Gerudo Village is hyped up until players need to sneak in themselves. It’s all accompanied by one of the best orchestrated tracks that still stands the test of time today and has been the focus of multiple remixes and remasters since.
4. Clock Town Day 1 (Majora’s Mask)
It’s the tune that welcomes players back, pulled from the brink of planetary destruction wrought by a child that has been neglected and abandoned far too many times. Whether you end up lost in that blasted Water Temple or are just chasing a surprising number of side quests, Clock Town welcomes Link back time and again with a banging, up-beat tune that seems to ignore the approaching moon in the sky.
3. Kakariko Village (Ocarina of Time, Link Between Worlds)
Kakariko Village is often reimagined in various iterations of The Legend of Zelda, from the prestigious Ocarina of Time to the more recent Breath of the Wild, and it changes its layout drastically every time. What doesn’t change, however, is how often the music simply slaps. Whether led by woodwinds or the melancholic plucking of strings, Kakariko Village is a consistent theatre of auditory bliss for Link. Interestingly, Kakariko is known as a Shiekah village as established in Ocarina of Time, but this isn’t immediately apparent in Breath of the Wild.
2. The Lost Woods (Ocarina of Time)
There’s a reason Lost Woods or Saria’s Song is featured prominently by every touring Legend of Zelda orchestra. A whimsical melody quickly turns to the underlying beat as Link explores the first dungeon of Ocarina of Time, urged further by Saria. The Lost Woods sets the tone for the masterpiece of The Ocarina of Time, both in complexity of dungeon and thematic accompaniment, and few video game developers have come within the same ballpark of that symbiotic relationship.
1. The Legend of Zelda theme
From 1986 to 2023, the theme song of The Legend of Zelda is instantly recognizable across all of its minor variants, tweaked to match the tone and theme of the current iteration of the franchise. From the gentle trumpet of Four Swords Adventures to the swelling emotion from Breath of the Wild, the original theme song is almost always noticeable. It’s featured in the heroic moments of Hyrule Warriors, the bizarre scenes of Spirit Tracks, and even sporadically in Breath of the Wild. No matter where it may appear, it always beckons with promises of fun, adventure, and a bit of emotion.