It’s no exaggeration to say that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the most anticipated video game releases. Very few franchises can claim the same level of critical success and fan dedication as The Legend of Zelda – so naturally, the series’ upcoming Wii U and Switch installment has captured fans’ hearts and set the “hype train” in motion!
For musicians and video game soundtrack enthusiasts like myself, one of the most exciting aspects of Breath of the Wild is its musical score. The Legend of Zelda series has always been a musical powerhouse, boasting some of the most iconic and memorable soundtracks in all of video game history. The soundtracks of Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past, to name just a few, are renowned as some of the most effective, beautiful, and nostalgic video game soundtracks of all time. Ever since Ocarina of Time, music and musical instruments have played integral roles in the gameplay and stories themselves. Point is, the soundtrack is always an important element of each Zelda game, so many fans are eager to hear what Breath of the Wild has up its sleeve.
Composer and musician Chris Wonfor, also known as “ClefferNotes”, has taken to writing his own ideas of what Breath of the Wild‘s soundtrack could possibly have in store. ClefferNotes is a composer who creates digital orchestrations of many video game tunes, as well as his own original compositions. Inspired by the songs heard in the official Breath of the Wild trailers and gameplay videos, he has created many amazing compositions that would arguably fit right into the game. I’ve been a fan of Chris for quite some time, and these Breath of the Wild arrangements stand out to me as some of his best work. I’d like to share a few of them in this article.
Above: The song that started it all.
ClefferNotes’ first Breath of the Wild arrangement, “Beckoning Winds”, is based on the music from the E3 trailer. The E3 trailer theme caught many a listener’s attention due to it’s intriguing quality. In terms of instrumentation and musical style, it is quite different than most Zelda music – soft piano keys and unique reeds give it a distinct, Ghibli-esque feel. This change in musical feel compliments the seemingly different direction the gameplay itself is taking. ClefferNotes creates a beautiful interpretation of this new addition to Zelda‘s musical library.
Above: Just a day after the release of the second official Breath of the Wild trailer, ClefferNotes uploaded a fantastic version of the trailer’s background music. Now that’s impressive!
ClefferNotes does more than directly recreate the songs heard in the trailers – he crafts his own distinct renditions while still capturing that unique new sound that has got so many Zelda fans intrigued about Breath of the Wild.
Above: ClefferNotes has posted spot-on renditions of some other themes from trailers and gameplay videos (such as the enemy battle song heard here), while still adding his own unique flavour.
Also in ClefferNotes Breath of the Wild line-up are some new takes on classic locations. I’m sure many longtime Zelda fans are curious to know what, say, the Lost Woods or Death Mountain would sound like in Breath of the Wild. ClefferNotes provides his own ideas with his fan-made Lake Hylia theme, for example:
Despite having no in-game reference for Lake Hylia as of yet, ClefferNotes effectively captures the feel of Breath of the Wild‘s soundtrack: soft, serene, with an element of mystery. This song also hides an easter egg: when sped up, the melody resembles the Lake Hylia theme from Twilight Princess. This is a clever and very fitting idea, as many official Zelda games hide musical secrets such as the well-known “Ballad of the Goddess” easter egg.
Some of his tracks even incorporate well-known Zelda motifs re-imagined in ClefferNotes’ Breath of the Wild style, such as a his idea for the background music for a rainy day – a pensive, atmospheric rendition of the “Song of Storms”:
Above: A great idea that is executed very well, this musical detail seems right in line with something Nintendo might do in the official game.
My personal favourite of his Breath of the Wild songs has to be “Horseback Adventure”, based on the brief musical introduction heard at the beginning of the Switch announcement trailer. Notably, this track is seemingly the first official Breath of the Wild track that is based on a past Zelda song: the main theme of the original NES title. ClefferNotes’ rendition sounds so genuine and truly feels like it could be the official full version of the theme. Check it out:
ClefferNotes takes the unique piano riff from the Switch announcement and runs wild with it: it starts off similar to what we hear in the trailer, but soon blossoms into a large orchestration complete with beautiful strings and epic percussion. He also smoothly incorporates some other recurring Zelda melodies such as the original “Title Theme”. I particularly enjoy how the little piano bit stays throughout the entire piece, it’s a great choice that gives the song a real sense of energy and motion. It really sets the mood for a quest!
All in all, I think ClefferNotes does a fantastic job of capturing the “feeling” of this highly anticipated upcoming game. It’s not a perfect emulation of the musical style, but rather a unique interpretation that shows off ClefferNotes’ distinct style as well. I recommend checking out his full playlist here, it’s great to listen to as the excitement builds for Breath of the Wild‘s eventual release. Please do check out Chris on his YouTube page and his SoundCloud, if you like Nintendo music and orchestrations you definitely won’t regret it.
That’s all for now. I’d like to make this a regular thing where I feature cool songs/albums or talented composers from the video game music community. This post is an example of what these showcases will look like. And perhaps when Breath of the Wild finally releases I’ll do a post or two about the actual soundtrack.
Thanks for reading and have a nice day!