Sunday, March 24, 2013

Game Music Online: Skyward Sword Theme Reversed

Recently, while searching on the internet for some information about some Zelda sound effects.  I stumbled upon something that's probably old news to many Skyward Sword fans, but was new to me and may be to some game music lovers.  I'll lay it out here so you can go from a complete zero to understanding the theme's reversal:

Here's Zelda's Lullaby, which to my knowledge was first heard in Ocarina of Time (1998).  This is one of the first melodies you learn to play in the game on your Ocarina:

And here's the Main Theme to Skyward Sword (2011):

Now, what's cool is that the brass melody is literally a reversal of Zelda's Lullaby.  I confirmed this is legitimate by reversing the audio this morning using Audacity.

As a note, the harmonic progression of the theme when set for Skyward Sword allows the reversal to work fairly well.  In Ocarina of Time, the harmonic progression isn't really meant to be played backward, so while you can flip that theme and hear thus hear the Skyward Sword Theme, the harmonic progression underneath the melody sounds pretty bizarre, where as the Skyward Sword reversed still sounds more ok to the ear.  Of the top of my head, I can think of examples by Berg and Hindemith that do much the same thing in classical music-- an "old trick" if you were, but it's clever and captures the musical imagination.

For more explanation on the musical nuts and blots of why this work I suggest checking out an incredible entry I found on Jason Brame's blog: 8-bit Analysis.  In his entry about Skyward Sword, he explains the harmonic progression of the theme and transcribes it in standard music notation which makes it easy to see how the theme is reversed.  His blog is amazing and is exactly the kind of thing I'm interested in.  I love that Jason and I are both UNC graduates!  I'm going to spend some time reading the entries and checking it out more in the coming days.

I wonder who first discovered this reversal...  Does anybody know or have a way to check how this was first discovered?  Do folks really sit around and record/reverse audio within days of a gametrailer being released to try to decode secret messages?  (If so, I want to meet you!)  Was this a clever bit of marketing to generate internet buzz for the game?  Skyward Sword does have an incredible sound track and it was the 25th anniversary of The Legend.  I love that there's so much internet buzz about this theme!

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