I live in a big Canadian city, so to me, the sounds of the urban soundscape are basically second-nature. My apartment is regularly bombarded with the screeching of ambulances, construction, music, and loud neighbours. You name it, I’ve probably heard it. The urban landscape is the backdrop to my life, and I live, eat, and sleep to the city’s unmistakable, and constantly evolving, soundtrack.
The soundscape is also one of the first things I notice when visiting a new space. On a trip to Dijon, France last year, I was immediately struck by the very distinctive sirens of the French ambulances, which sound so different from those in North America. The echo of church bells through Dijon’s cobblestone streets also produces a striking effect. In my Canadian hometown, chuch bells (regrettably) are hardly discernible from the rest of the urban soundtrack.
Thinking about noises in cities has led me to reconsider the urban landscapes of one of my favourite video games franchises: The Legend of Zelda. I recently played through the new 3DS game and had a chance to rediscover some of my favourite music from the 1998 classic (incidentally, you can read my review of the game at Geared for Gamers here.
Rediscovering Zelda made me realize that many of my favourite video game tracks come from towns and villages. The soundtrack of Zelda’s urban spaces is generally fast-paced and upbeat– a noticeable contrast to the dark, sombre music of the franchise’s dungeons. The music clearly reflects the reality that Zelda’s towns are sheltered spaces which are (mostly) free of enemies.
Being a city dweller myself, I suppose it’s no surprise that I enjoy the busy sounds of Zelda’s towns and cities. I also appreciate the sense of safety and familiarity associated with the franchise’s urban spaces, which share many of the same physical characteristics. Outside the walls of Hyrule’s cities, dangers lurk in dark corners. But inside the city walls, visitors are invited to relax and enjoy the urban landscape and all the sounds it has to offer. On this beautiful Friday afternoon, I invite you to do the same. Here are four of my favourite soundtracks from the Legend of Zelda’s urban spaces. Which do you enjoy best?
1) Majora’s Mask, Clock Town
2) A Link to the Past, Kakariko Village
3) Ocarina of Time, Hyrule Castle Town
Twilight Princess, East Castle Town: