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Commentary on writing The Creation of Hyrule - A Symphonic Poem

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Hi there everyone.

I'm relatively new to the forums; only been here for just over a week now, but I wanted to provide a little background to some of my music, hence the post here.

Around this time last year, I was contracted to write some music for the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses Concert.  I managed this by contacting the Producers and showing them what I could provide by creating a piece of music which I had written solely for this purpose.  The piece in question is a Symphonic Poem for a full Orchestra, entitled "The Creation of Hyrule".  It is based upon the music and Soundtracks of several games in the Legend of Zelda Series, and was inspired, in part, by the music of the Symphony of the Goddesses Concert which I had already seen a few times, and I wanted to make some commentary here on how it was constructed.

A Symphonic Poem (or Tone Poem) is, by definition, a piece of Orchestral music, usually in a single continuous movement, which illustrates or evokes the content of a poem, short story, novel, painting, landscape, or other (non-musical) source.  While many Symphonic Poems may compare in size and scale to symphonic movements (or even reach the length of an entire Symphony), they're unlike traditional Classical Symphonic Movements in that their music is intended to inspire listeners to imagine or consider scenes, images, specific ideas or moods, and not (necessarily) to focus on following traditional patterns of Musical Form.  In short, the composition tells a story through the music.  Naturally, the focus being the Legend of Zelda, there was plenty of story to work with!  The work itself is half Composition, half Arrangement.  It contains original work of my own, as well as numerous themes from many different games in the Legend of Zelda series; some pretty much as they are in the game, others were slightly altered, or in some cases, only the melody/rhythm used, mostly to be combined with work of my own to provide a contrapuntal counterpart.

I began by considering a storyline.  This would narrow down the number of themes and songs in the many soundtracks at my disposal, which I would be able to use; this would save me from wasting time at the beginning by transcribing only the music I know I would include in the piece.  I settled for this storyline:  In the beginning, there was nothing.  Out of the nothingness comes the Creation, as portrayed in Ocarina of Time. As the Sun rises on the first day, the entirety of Hyrule, in all its splendor can be seen. Then, into this idyllic world come the Gerudos, headed by Ganondorf, who usurp the land. Link, the hero of the story, hears about Hyrule's plight and sets off on a journey to vanquish Ganondorf. Coming across the Gerudo Fortress, he attempts to break in, but his assault is stopped by Ganondorf, who leaves him helpless.  Zelda comes across Link, and heals him of his wounds, taking him to the Great Fairy to strengthen him, and to turn him into the Hero he was destined for.  Finally, after taking hold of The Master Sword, he storms Hyrule Castle, encounters Ganondorf again, and after an epic struggle, defeats Ganondorf, and uses the Triforce to restore Hyrule back to its former glory.

Once a storyline had been established, I set to work on which themes and songs I would use.  Some melodies, I simply had to use, like the Main LoZ Theme, Zelda's Lullaby, Ganondorf's Theme, etc.  From what I heard at the Symphony of the Goddesses Concert, and from my own experience in playing many of the games in the series, I knew some that I wanted to include, and could, given the limits of the storyline.  A little trawling of the soundtrack playlists on Youtube offered me several more that I could use.  When I had decided on what I wanted to use, I then set to work transcribing all the music I wanted to use.  Transcribing is the practise of writing down music as you hear it, a little like taking dictations from a lecture but instead of writing down what someone says, you write down the notes played.  Some pieces were relatively straightforward.  Others took ages to get just right.  For this, one needs to have a good ear and be able to attune it to the different sounds played so as to determine what instruments are playing, and what notes.  It's a painstaking procedure, but once that was done, I then had to develop the transcriptions so they could accommodate the Orchestral forces the Poem is scored for; "beef them up" in a sense, so they would have more impact.  Some did need this, others didn't.  It was a question of 'feel' - whether I thought their place in the story and the score required it.

When this was all done, I then started to write the Poem proper.  In some cases, I wrote my own music, and in other cases, melodies from the game were included, e.g: the very opening of the Poem has the Strings playing in D octaves stretching from the bottom of the Double Basses to the highest harmonics in the Violins, and the Cellos play the Song of Time, punctuated by some quiet chords in the higher Woodwind instruments.  By this point, I had pretty much decided on what is going where, and wrote in the filler material.  Some of the transitions proved relatively simple, others more challenging, but I tried to keep the music from the games in their original keys.  A couple may have been transposed a semitone up or down, but they stayed the same. I also constructed re-orchestrated variants on some of the themes, such as the Great Fairy's Fountain; and in some cases, interwove only the melody from the soundtracks into the music, sometimes two or three, or in the case just before Hyrule Castle's music is played, five.

After this point, I went over the score, putting in any phrases, ornamentations or attacks, and developing the percussion and overall orchestration to make it coherent and to provide ultimate effect on the listener.  The piece was constructed with Sibelius 7, and then had NotePerformer run through it to give the piece a more realistic sound (I've yet to purchase a Sample Library)

The piece lasts a total of 55 minutes (I initially intended it to be 25-30!) and contains music from a total of eight games in the series:

The Legend of Zelda
A Link to the Past
A Link between Worlds
Ocarina of Time
Wind Waker
Twilight Princess
Skyward Sword
Breath of the Wild

I do hope you enjoy it - I have posted the music up on the OCR Forums as well:  Please follow the link here -> http://ocremix.org/community/topic/46718-legend-of-zelda-a-symphonic-poem-the-creation-of-hyrule/


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