The Legend of Zelda, which started all the way back in 1986, has won the hearts of gamers worldwide not only because of its gameplay but also for its immersive soundtrack that perfectly matches Link’s adventures. As a matter of fact, many Zelda songs have become iconic video game tunes.
Shrine Battle (Tears of the Kingdom)
The most recent addition to the LoZ family, Tears of the Kingdom, received perfect scores from publications like IGN and GameSpot for its great gameplay. No attention was stolen away from the game’s music development, either. With its plucky notes, like fat raindrops falling into a puddle, the “Shrine Battle” song is unique and quirky. It keeps you on your toes, switching time signatures every measure until the piano breakdown.
Gerudo Valley (Ocarina of Time)
A list of the best Zelda songs wouldn’t be complete without Gerudo Valley from Ocarina of Time. A timeless videogame soundtrack, this piece combines clapping beats, Spanish guitar, and horn, giving the song an infectious flamenco feel.
Hidden Village (Twilight Princess)
This song feels like it comes straight out of a cowboy movie. It starts with the indescribable twang of a mouth harp and continues building with whistling and guitar. We challenge you to listen to it without wanting to climb into the saddle for some adventures, whether in real life or in-game.
Windmill Hut/Song of Storms (Ocarina of Time)
People who played Ocarina of Time will never forget this magical tune, which can be played at various times to make it rain or heal other characters. It’s got a delightful circuitousness to it, like the spinning of the windmill itself. For extra awesomeness, listen to this song with headphones on. The accordion sounds wind from the left to the right earphone like a teacup ride.
Like many other LoZ compositions, “Windmill Hut/Song of Storms” encourages loitering in the Kakariko Windmill so that you can enjoy its waltzing rhythms just a little bit longer.
Great Fairy Fountain (Ocarina of Time)
The floaty twinkling notes (harp or piano, depending on the game) backed by crooning synths hold a special place in the hearts of many LoZ fans. “Great Fairy Fountain” packs a powerful wallop of nostalgia for those who spent their formative years playing Zelda games, including Ocarina of Time.
Zelda’s Lullaby (Skyward Sword/Ocarina of Time)
This sweet tune is familiar to even those who have never played a LoZ game. It features an oboe, clarinet, and flute for a gentle and soothing sound. It’s made more poignant when you hear it along with the cutscene of Link and Zelda’s peaceful childhood and knowing they will be separated for many years.
Lost Woods (Ocarina of Time)
Even though it still has that 8-bit sound to it, there’s a rich cheerfulness in the music of “Lost Woods.” For those who were relatively young when they first played Ocarina of Time, it might even spur memories of asking an older relative to help solve the more challenging puzzles.
Song of Healing (Majora’s Mask)
For what is ostensibly a kids’ game, Majora’s Mask deals with some pretty heavy themes: the results of Skull Kid’s pranks are potentially catastrophic, and Link has to clean up the mess. This includes all the grief and loss caused by the crisis. The song is both melancholy and hopeful, reminding all of us that we have to allow ourselves time and grace to work through heavy feelings and get to a happier place.
Milk Bar (Majora’s Mask)
Providing an upbeat counter to the solemnity of “Song of Healing” is “Milk Bar,” which plays while you encounter a melancholy Gorman drinking away his sorrows at the bar. Some players hear a cheerful tune, while others imbue the depression and dejection of Gorman into the music. However, by playing the right song, you can move Gorman to tears and help him remember why he became a musician in the first place.
Kakariko Village – Day (Breath of the Wild)
This peaceful tune pays homage to classical Japanese music with flutes, bells, taiko drums, and strings. It is so fitting because Kakariko Village seems to be inspired by feudal Japan. Its serenity is shaken up by some abrupt sounds throughout, which suggest adventure is close by if you’re ready to leave the village. But first, you just need to visit the Goddess statue, the great fairy fountain, and check in on Paya.
Dark World Dungeon (A Link to the Past)
It may not have the emotional heft of “Song of Healing” or “Zelda’s Lullaby,” but “Dark World Dungeon” will take LttP players right back to those dungeons, trying to solve the puzzles and find the right door. LttP was one of the earliest Zelda games, with limited memory and budget. Despite these limits, the song uses strings and synth to create a tense, urgent feeling in the listener.
Dragon Roost Island (The Wind Waker and Breath of the Wild)
With an uptempo mix of mandolin and pan flute, this song feels like a nod to South American musical tradition. The almost percussive sounds of the strings make you want to tap your feet or maybe break into dance while the soaring notes of the pan flute tug at your heartstrings.
Palace Theme (Zelda II: The Adventure of Link)
It is impossible not to get excited when you hear this theme. It has some of the elements of the most famous cinematic scores (think John Williams), with the rising and falling melody making you feel like a badass secret agent or just a really cool little guy with a sword.
Ballad of the Goddess (Skyward Sword)
“Ballad of the Goddess” is an inspiring and emotional piece of music. When you realize it’s actually Zelda’s lullaby played in reverse, it’s even more incredible. It is a theme fitting for a goddess, with delightful flourishes and a floaty melody that has been adapted and remixed to a beautifully haunting effect by many artists.
Hyrule Castle Theme (Breath of the Wild)
Beat for beat, this song makes it clear you’re headed to war. The unsettling beginning notes transition into a strong march with drums and horns, which is then overlaid with cascading, discordant piano lest you think the battle is glory unvarnished by chaos. Plus, each main character’s theme makes a cameo in this masterful piece of composition.
Forest Temple (Ocarina of Time)
At least three different elements are going on throughout this song. First, a funky, almost indescribable sound starts. Then, eerie-sounding synths ooze into the music – and finally, a reverberating keyboard motif adds to the unsettling feeling of the music. Occasionally, a strange voice joins the mix. Everything fades in and out, echoing in a way that makes you feel like you’re being watched. You don’t have to know music theory to know this song is the perfect soundtrack for a spooky, perhaps abandoned, liminal space like the Forest Temple.
The Legend of Zelda Theme
“The Legend of Zelda” theme is another of Koji Kondo’s triumphant compositions that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Star Wars or Lord of the Rings soundtrack. Its simple melody doesn’t soar straight to the high notes, like the Star Wars main theme; however, it takes a step down as if to get ready for the adventure to come. Whether you’re fighting Ganon or gearing up to go to work, the music fills you with courage and bravery.
Other Must-Listen Zelda Songs
- Bolero of Fire
- Saria’s Song
- Epona’s Song
- Midna’s Lament
- Realm Overworld Theme (Spirit Tracks)
- Clock Town Theme (Majora’s Mask)
- Zora’s Domain (Breath of the Wild)
- Hyrule Field Theme