Legend of Zelda, 1986 Title Theme. Simple arrangement for guitar(s) and bass


I am a huge fan of Koji Kondo’s music, and the LOZ theme has always been one of my favourites. I finally decided to record a cover for it, combining some of the original melodies and arrangements with some little additions of mine, like an arpeggiated acoustic accompaniment, some power chords to lift the energy, and an outro of dubious taste :slight_smile:
It was also a good excuse to practice filming techniques in my new-ish home studio.

The parts are very simple on paper, but I found them deceptively hard to make sound good. Playing slow melodies on guitar is quite difficult — even more so with a clean tone. Something that helped was to layer an acoustic guitar on top of an electric one, as you can hear from 0:11 onwards.

I was initially tempted to put “rock style vibrato” on the longer notes, but it sounded totally horrible and out of place in this context. I eventually opted for the more subtle “classical vibrato” or no vibrato at all, so this was a good exercise in restraint / breaking habits. I don’t think I completely succeeded, but at some point you have to declare a project finished and move on right? :smiley:

Anyway, hope you enjoy the arrangement and I made some tabs of all the parts for anyone interested!

Additional note: all the electric playing is a single take, and it’s from one of the earliest attempts that I did (probably take 2 or so). In the following days I tried to re-record some parts “better”, but could never capture that initial energy / optimism / sense of fun of the first couple of takes. It became more of a chore so once again it was a matter of knowing when to stop (I’m learning).


Beautiful! Excellent taste in choice of material, and then well-executed!

This arrangement sits astride the 8-bit world and the acoustic world. There’s one drum fill that sounds 8-bit-ish, but other than that, it could easily be an instrumental track on some alternative band’s album.

In that context, I applaud the “restraint”. Your choice of classical vibrato is appropriate and convincing. But the drums are also for the most part nicely understated. How were the drum sounds done?

The mix is also quite subtle and coherent. It sounds glorious through my iPad speakers, with everything nicely balanced and the musical gestures threading through one to the next.

When I listen on my Grado SR-80 headphones it’s a bit bass heavy resulting in some of the interplay with acoustic guitars during the tutti sections being lost and thus the flow interrupted, so if I were to master this track (I made my living as a mastering engineer for a couple years) I would bring the low-end down a bit and try to make it sound like it does on my iPad everywhere else. But that’s a typical compensation and only feasible because so much else was nailed!

Thank you for an unexpected atmospheric morning surprise.

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Thank you for listening so carefully, love the analysis :slight_smile:

I would be very happy to share the required track(s) with you or anyone else who’d enjoy re-mixing or mastering them. I may add a link to the tracks later.

When it comes to mixing and mastering, I’m slowly improving but I definitely am nowhere near an expert!!

PS: the drums were from various source. I used a snare sound from Judd Madden (he has free samples on his website), plus some timpani samples (I have to re-find the source, will post later). The shells and toms were from EZ Drummer 3. I believe no kick drum was used, I forgot!


Awesome arrangement, tommo. Nice tones, and definitely using a lot of restraint! What a tremendously classic tune, makes me want to go play Zelda now. Good to know there’s another fan among us. :slight_smile:


Well done, sounds awesome. Brings back fond memories of being 12 years old, playing the gold colored NES game for hours with the neighborhood crew trying to solve all the puzzles in a pre-internet era.

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Thanks all, yeah this piece is super nostalgic for me too :slightly_smiling_face:

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