Game Design Games Geek / Technical

The Golden Ratio in Video Game Music

During the Ludum Dare #11 competition, someone posted a link to Zelda Music of Golden Proportions at

Christian is studying music theory and learned about “golden sections”, which are marked by the point in the piece corresponding to the Golden Ratio. That is, if you have two segments of a line, x and y, then y is in proportion to x as x is in proportion to x+y. I have forgotten most of what I learned about The Golden Ratio in grade school. I vaguely remember that by using it you can mathematically come up with musical harmony and visual aesthetics. Math is art sometimes.

Initially, there were many game themes I wanted to check for a significant golden section. Unfortunately, the Mario songs I checked didn’t exhibit this, but low and behold, several Zelda themes do. It seems most of the pieces that do are written as actual pieces, and not as short melodies meant to be looped over and over, and Zelda games have a lot of those. While I can’t say it’s for sure, Koji Kondo probably doesn’t incorporate the Golden Ratio consciously into his music, but the fact that Zelda music holds more of a masterpiece status compared to Mario music or other video game music likely isn’t a coincidence. Let’s look at the music from The Legend of Zelda.

The rest of the article walks you through specific music pieces from various Zelda games, and it is a fascinating read (and listen!) Still, I imagine Koji Kondo DOES incorporate the Golden Ratio consciously. I mean, Christian is learning about it in music theory, wouldn’t Kondo have learned similar lessons elsewhere?

UPDATE: ProjectPerko has a related post called Music. It seems that Craig has found a number of music pieces that happen to have golden proportions. Whether it is coincidence or not is up for debate in the comments section.

[tags] zelda, video games, music theory, music, nintendo [/tags]