The Legend of Zelda Symphony: Debating the merits of tonight's symphony excursion
Tonight at Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver will be graced with the four-part Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses tour, where audiences will see the legendary Nintendo game soundtrack scored by a collection of classically trained musicians. But is this just another gimmick to get people out to see the symphony, a trite beating of the proverbial dead-horse of millennial post-modernism? Or is it the culmination of a nostalgic generation, paying tribute to the 8-bit fantasies of their youth through a timeless medium? Patrick Rodgers and Josiah M Hesse enter our Split Decision thunderdome to debate the merits of tonight's symphony.
Catch the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses tonight at Boettcher Concert Hall.
The original Legend of Zelda's 8-bit quest for Tri-Force ate up a lot of hours of my childhood; hours which I wouldn't have rather spent playing sports, reading books or otherwise bettering myself. Of the tens of thousands of pieces of music I've heard over the course of my life, the game's theme music is one of a select few that I can recall at a moment's notice. It holds a special place in my heart, but that doesn't mean I'm shelling out almost a hundred bucks for me and a date to listen to video game music as performed by professional musicians.
Video games are the new movies. Over the past few decades, they've expanded from arcades into our homes (just like movies went from theaters to VCRs to instant streaming), grown loyal audiences and spawned their own cultural niche, including gamer-centric magazines, retail outlets and merchandising. Games have big budgets, celebrity voice talent and marketing budgets, but at the end of the day, does that justify deconstructing one aspect of the Zelda franchise to capitalize on nostalgia?
What's next a live dramatic interpretation of Mario Bros. on Broadway? Or maybe the novelization of Donkey Kong? It's bad enough that Hollywood can't figure out how to make an original film worth watching - that we're subjected to this perpetual cycle of creative incest where everything showing on the big screen is a poorly done remake of something else (and actually just a vehicle for product placement). Are there really only two or three good scripts written per year? Doubtful. The problem is a fear to tread on the unknown waters of real creativity.
Are there no composers of interesting music in the world today? People whose lives have been dedicated to the study of music theory, who've endured the rigors of formal education, and who now compose music for to be performed simply for listening purposes (as opposed to dancing, per se)? In the name of developing and elevating our collective culture shouldn't we be using the opportunity to present live music to do more than just re-hash melodies that already have an audience of millions?
We could do better. We could be finding ways to support the great musical talents our time by presenting their creations to audiences -- rather than forcing all of them to either make pop music or write commercial jingles. But that would require risk taking, and in the highly commercialized world of cultural arts production there's little room for error when it comes to making ends meet. Better to play it safe and sell nostalgia.
When Igor Stravinsky debuted the Rite of Spring in Paris in 1913, the rhythmic intensity of the composition caused the audience to riot (they were used to more subdued Classical ballet influences). Now, that great artistic risk is one of the canonical pieces of Western music. It was in Fantasia. Where's all the music that makes people so emotional they riot, rather than just the music that makes everyone think about how much better life was when all they had to worry about was how to beat the next level?
-- Patrick Rodgers