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Harmonic Language in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

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This paper examines the work of Koji Kondo in the 1998 video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Using a variety of techniques of harmonic analysis, the paper examines the commonalities between teleportation pieces and presents a model to describe their organization. Concepts are drawn from the work of three authors for the harmonic analysis. William Caplin’s substitutions; Daniel Harrison’s fundamental bases; and, Dmitri Tymoczko’s parsimonious voice leading form the basis of the model for categorizing the teleportation pieces. In general, these pieces begin with some form of prolongation (often tonic); proceed to a subdominant function; employ a chromatically altered chord in a quasi-dominant function; and, end with a weakened cadence in the major tonic key. By examining the elements of this model in each piece, this paper explains how the teleportation pieces use unusual harmonic language and progressions while maintaining a coherent identity in the context of the game’s score.


Game, Zelda, Harmony, Analysis, Progression

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