Thursday, August 21, 2008

Legend of Purple

Note: Eight years later, I updated and expanded this post. See it here.

Below is a YouTube video that plays the song “April” by Deep Purple. Yes, Deep Purple — the guys most familiar to me, at least, for songs like “Smoke on the Water,” “Woman From Tokyo” and the original version of “Hush.” I’d imagine most people my age haven’t heard “April,” however. It’s not even famous enough to warrant its own Wikipedia page. Those with a childhood rooted in Nintendo may wish to give a listem however, as it has numerous similarities to various themes from the original Legend of Zelda.

Frankly, I’m astounded. According to the Wikipedia page for Koji Kondo — the guy responsible for the music in most of Nintendo’s major titles, including the Super Mario Bros. theme — hasn’t necessarily admitted that “April” was a major inspiration for him when composing music for Zelda, but it’s hard to overlook the similarities.

Credit goes to NeoGAF’s “Cloudbush” thread, which I’ve written about before. Full of revelations, it is.

And for the sake of comparison, here is a clip of the actual Zelda theme. I felt a guitar version would best demonstrate the similarities. This one is played by Zack Kim, who does it by playing two guitars at once, which is pretty remarkable in an of itself.

Also, I’m going to include a different rendition as well — one of the original Zelda’s dungeon theme. Around the two-minute mark in “April,” there’s a brief part that sounds almost exactly like it, perhaps even more so than the overall song sounds like the Zelda main theme. Here is that, again played on guitar.

EDIT: Okay, while it's not ad admission of anything, Kondo mentioned in an interview with Nintendo Power magazine that he at one point played in a band that covered Deep Purple, among other things. So it at least seems possible that he could have been familiar enough with April to have had it influence his work. That's probably as close to a yes or no answer as we'll ever get.
Video games and music, previously:


  1. ...totally rad. Now I like them even more.

  2. The original LoZ song was Ravel's "Bolero":

    Which if you've ever heard it makes perfect sense, because it's a very
    pounding, repetitive song. The LoZ song Kondo came up with upon
    discovering that "Bolero" was still in copyright sounds very similar
    but is much, much better.

    When I discovered this I thought it very appropriate, because when I
    was in college I played a lot of Link to the Past, while listening to
    a Frank Zappa album that included "Bolero". The LttP title music
    sounds even more like "Bolero".

    Sadly, the Bolero of Fire melody from Ocarina of Time _doesn't_ sound
    like "Bolero".

  3. How interesting. But surely you can hear the the strong Zelda resemblances in "April," right?

  4. I do, but lots of songs sound like other songs. We have *confirmed*
    one of the influences on the LoZ song, and yet the two songs don't
    really sound that much alike apart from sharing a certain droning

    By contrast, there's a really interesting essay somewhere on the web
    that makes a pretty good case that the song "Iron Man" is based on the
    comic book. But the evidence is circumstantial, even though they used
    the *exact same name*. The case requires showing general influences of
    American comic books on that generation of teenagers in the UK. To
    make an airtight case you'd need to find independent evidence of Kondo
    being into classic rock the way there is of him being into jazz.

    That said, I think it's likely there was some subconscious influence
    and now they have to preserve plausible deniability to avoid being
    sued. That riff at 3:46 seems almost note-for-note copied for the LoZ
    dungeon theme.

  5. This is true, especially with the dungeon theme. The rest just sounds very similar to other parts of Zelda. Good points, all around.

  6. This site

    reprints an interview Kondo did with Nintendo Power magazine. It mentions he played in a band that did Deep Purple covers, so he could have possibly been familiar with "April." I think I'll update this into the actual post.