Command the Winds, Command Your Destiny: The Music of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Gamer Grooves

As always, a friendly reminder that this post may contain spoilers.

As I mentioned at the end of the Majora’s Mask post, there’s one Zelda game that is tied for first place in my heart. That game is The Wind Waker, which released in 2003 to some negative reviews. Many disliked the game because Zelda was now cartoony and cell-shaded, which people staunchly disregarded as being too kiddy. This wasn’t helped by the fact that a Zelda custcene made from the Gamecube engine was shown to people at Nintendo’s Space World in 2000 (seen below):

The Legend of Zelda Spaceworld 2000 GameCube demo

People wanted the darker and edgier Zelda that they had come to expect from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. So when the videos of the gameplay for Wind Waker came out, nerds were in an (internet) uproar! However, I and many others thought the new art style was a breath of fresh air. Aesthetically, the game is absolutely beautiful and the gameplay flows very well. Over time and with the release of more Zelda games, Wind Waker became one of the most beloved titles to grace the series.

The composers for Wind Waker were Kenta Nagata, Hajime Wakai, Toru Minegishi, and the masterful talent of Koji Kondo. A very heavily featured instrument in the music for Wind Waker is the pan flute, which is appropriate since it is a wind instrument. So in that way, it keeps with the Wind Waker theme, as if the people who are performing the songs are controlling the wind in their own special way. I’m sure that going into this list, there are some songs that readers may already be humming to themselves, so lets see if I talk about them!

Songs

Title Theme

Title Theme – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

I really enjoy the Irish influence on this song; the only thing that’s really missing is the sound of the wind blowing as the title rolls across the screen. It definitely gave off a simplistic, upbeat, and colorful concept of how the game would play out.

I can really picture Link in the game hearing this song and bobbing his head from side to side to the melody. If anything, it’s chiefly meant to lift your spirits, which I can definitely appreciate.

The Legendary Hero

The Legendary Hero – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Basically, the job that The Legendary Hero needs to do is accompany the story of the Hero of Time and make you feel as if you’ve experienced the whole thing. It’s really well done in that regard, making me feel like I’ve experience the entire tale in the span of three and a half minutes. There’s a beginning, a build up, a climax, and then it repeats the beginning part to sort of bring you back to the now. It sucked you into the experience so that when it was over, it needed to say, “…and that was in the past, so remember it always.” It also features the rendition of the classic Zelda overworld theme, just to make the player feel more nostalgic for that older time.

Outset Island

Outset Island – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Outset Island is where you were born and where you start the game. It’s before your journey begins, and it’s an ultimately safe place to be, so the music is very simple. Since it’s easy to figure how the chords will progress in the song, you will quickly associate this song with home because it’s so familiar.

I wish I understood the point of the tuba (or possibly a cello) that goes on throughout the song. I never said I could analyze everything… I’m such a disappointment!

Forsaken Fortress

Forsaken Fortress – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

This is some grade-A sneaking music, I have to say. The fact that the guards move to the beat of the song helps to create that feeling that you should be tiptoeing everywhere. Obviously, the people from other rooms won’t here you running around, but it definitely makes you watch your step because you don’t want to be captured by the Moblins. This song used to be really nerve wracking because the Forsaken Fortress used to be one of the hardest parts of the game for me. Despite not having much in the way of music, this theme can speak volumes more than other songs on the soundtrack in it’s own way.

Windfall Island

Windfall Island – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

When listening to certain parts of this song, you realize that it’s sort of a retread of the Kakariko Village theme. It makes sense because Windfall Island takes the Kakariko role, but the two songs are not exactly identical. Just listen to it and any other Kakariko theme and see if you can hear what I’m hearing.

Dragon Roost Island

Dragon Roost Island – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

This is probably one of the songs that people started humming when thinking of Wind Waker. The song feels as if it comes from a place with a deep and rich culture, like from South America (apparently the song was inspired by Andean and Incan civilizations, so hey, there you go). This song most famously utilizes the pan flute to achieve that sense of an ancient civilization, even if the Rito Tribe run the multi-island mail delivery system. The music, imagery, and architecture are all definitely inspired by Incan roots.

The Great Sea

The Great Sea – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

This is probably the most important song in the entirety of the Wind Waker soundtrack. They needed to make sure that this song was enjoyable and captured the mood of sailing since you would be doing so much of it. If I close my eyes and listen to this song, I can most definitely picture standing on a boat speeding across the ocean. I can imagine the wind rushing through my hair and the smell of the salt water and the world being so open to me. It gives you this feeling as if Link could go anywhere and do anything now that he has a boat and a sail.

Gohdan

Gohdan – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

The battle with Gohdan himself is awesome, even if he fulfills the Nintendo stereotype of boss with a head and two hands. Gohdan is an envoy of the gods, and meant to be Link’s final test before he can open up the passageway to Hyrule. I really like the song because it highlights two parts of the fight, 0:00 – 1:02 and 1:03 – 2:04, which are two separate phases respectively. The first part plays when Link is fighting the hands, and the second part plays when you begin attacking the face itself. The use of the piano works to great effect here and makes it feel like the enemy has its strings being pulled by something greater.

Phantom Ganon

Phantom Ganon – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

While also a remix of the Ganon battle theme, Phantom Ganon’s battle theme has a trick to it that I’ve always liked a lot. 1:59 onwards sounds totally out of pace from the rest of the song, and the reason for that is because that’s the music that plays when you hit one of the energy orbs back at Phantom Ganon. The song thankfully features both versions; being when you fail then get hit, and when you succeed in volleying it back enough that it hits him. It’s weird, but that change of the music is probably the one thing I most look forward to in the Phantom Ganon fight.

Sage Laruto / Sage Fado

Sage Laruto – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Sage Fado – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Both of these themes are variations of The Legendary Hero, but each have the original flavors of the respective sage’s heritage. The spirit of Laruto is that of a Zora, whose race died out/evolved into the Rito tribe, and she seems to have a deep connection to the spirits from her song. Fado was a Kokiri, who have evolved into the Koroks, and so his song has a connection to nature and the forests. This also matches up with their respective temples, the Earth Temple being filled with ghosts and undead and the Wind Temple filled with trees and greenery. The reasoning that their themes are linked to the Legendary Hero theme is because they’re from the hero’s time, and Laruto/Fado’s time has now passed after being killed by Jahalla and Molgera, respectively. (That was a mouthfull of plot but I actually understood it! – EDITOR FRANK)

Molgera

Molgera – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Fighting in a giant sandy arena, Molgera is a huge sandworm capable of flight, though it mostly waits in the middle of it’s pit, sucking in its prey. I think if I was asked to name a favorite song on the soundtrack, it would probably be Molgera’s battle. I love the flute and how dynamic it is, and the acapella “chicka chicka chicka chicka chicka” in the background. It definitely sounds like Link is battling with an ancient predator instead of something with sentience, which makes Molgera more dangerous in a way because it’s unpredictable (as unpredictable as Zelda bosses can be). In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, every chance I can get to put this song on in the Wind Waker stage, I do so. I just like it that much.

Puppet Ganon Snake

Puppet Ganon Snake – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

So this is awkward… remember when I sort of hinted that Zelda bosses might not be super unpredictable? Seriously?? It was like two sentences ago! Well, as the song indicates, the snake form of Puppet Ganon is pure unadulterated unpredictability. I would consider this form to be the hardest boss in the game, just out of not being able to predict what he will do next or where he will go. So the theme has these blaring chaotic horns playing to kind of confuse you and stress you out as you’re trying to stop this massive snake from running you down over and over again.

Ganondorf Battle

Ganondorf Battle – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

This song signified the Ganondorf battle that I had always wanted since forever. In Wind Waker, he dual wields two swords and it becomes a one-on-two duel between him and Link/Zelda, using the Master Sword and Light Arrows respectively. It’s an awesome and atmospheric fight, despite how easy it is, as the waters surrounding Hyrule begin to fall. It had always been a battle with Ganon as a huge pig-beast, so when it came to having a sword battle, I was primed and ready. Basically, Ganondorf is a huge badass, and what made it more badass was the ending, with Link dodging his strikes and planting the Master Sword deep within his forehead. My favorite Ganondorf battle of all time, and it was accompanied with the perfect theme.

Afterthoughts

The Wind Waker was one of a kind, and even if they don’t make any more main console Zelda games that look like it, I’ll always be happy to replay it. In fact, if you didn’t already know, they recently did a HD makeover for TWW on the Wii U. It has improved graphics, and even sports a soundtrack with tweaks to various songs and sometimes cleaner versions of them. Now all they need to do is remake Majora’s Mask…

Anywho, that will be it for today. There’s one more day left in this 30 day post series, so that’s exciting (and a little sad at the same time). Comment on the post below, on songs that you liked that I may or may not have talked about, or just comment on the article itself. You can even use the new Facebook commenting system for Non-Productive if you want the convenience of already being logged in! Either way, I’ll see you all tomorrow!

Surely, from this moment on, you shall be known as the Hero of Winds…

Wind Waker

Alex McVeigh
About Alex McVeigh 28 Articles
Alex has been a nerd for as long as he can remember. Every normal conversation he has had could be matched 1 for 1 with a conversation about why Scrooge McDuck is obviously richer than Edward Cullens' Dad and here's why. He can talk about and play video games for hours only to conclude with "anyone wanna play some magic?