ajor Changes in Minor Keys: Music and Narrative in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

The goal of my project was to help tell the story Link is thrust into while exploring Termina in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Music plays a particularly important role in the game series, relying on songs Link learns to trigger events to further the story. This project took no focus on the Ocarina songs, though, and told a story through the game’s background music. The music can be found here

One of the most challenging aspects of this project was to portray the emotion that permeates scenes from the game through the use of music. In my eyes, Majora’s Mask is a game that highlights the tragedies of loneliness and how one deals with it. For this reason, the first two tracks are written as character pieces for Link and Skull Kid: “Link’s Departure”, a track I wrote in conjunction with the beginning of the game, a scene in which Link is alone with his horse, walking through a forest, is a mellow, downtempo track written in the minor key, a mode that inspires introverted thought and sadness, but not so much to dissuade us from the possibility of a brighter tomorrow. Link is alone in that moment, but his loneliness is cast aside through being kind and helpful to the people of the primary location of the game, Clocktown, who return his kindness with their own help towards Link. The aptly titled “I Am So Sad”, on the other hand, is a much darker and more sinister piece that is also written in minor, but experiences much more dramatism and agony than the first track. This was done to highlight Skull Kid’s inability to keep his friends – he uses fear when under the control of Majora’s Mask. The song takes on a hopeless air, emphasizing chaos and disorder through a random array of claps and thunder samples, exemplifying the futility of Skull kid’s attempt at friendship through his negative emotions.

Majora’s Mask tells a simple story with complex themes, and I wanted the music to represent this dichotomy as well. Creatively, I took a choice to be as minimalistic as possible in my arrangements, often opting for a simple piano and rhythm section to drive forward the main melody, but layering different soundscapes, counter-melodies, and effect-samples to create an organized chaos in the track, mimicking the added layers of complexity the main story of the game engages with. In some cases, though, emphasis was placed on the rushed and hectic nature of the game, notably during the tracks “Idalwa Boss Music” and “THE MOON IS FALLING”, which forsake the layers complexity of the other tracks in favour of promoting the energy and rushed feeling of fighting a boss, or mustering up the courage to stop the moon from falling and destroying Clock Town and all of Termina.

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