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Kate Galloway




This thesis explores the relationships among music, sound, virtual environments, and gameplay within the video game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo 2017). Utilizing frameworks and methodologies from musicology, ethnomusicology, film studies, and sound studies, the analyses presented in this thesis provide a better understanding of how music and sound impact a player’s perception of a virtual environment. The first chapter analyzes compositional works by Koji Kondo, focusing on musical themes and motifs from earlier Legend of Zelda games. As subsequent Legend of Zelda games utilize these themes and motifs, it is necessary to provide a historical analysis. The second chapter discusses the application of concepts from film studies to video games, first by providing a comparison of the development of sound technology in both industries. Case studies from Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 1998) and Breath of the Wild conclude the chapter. The third and fourth chapters analyze the relationships between sonic environments and players’ gameplay experiences. The first of these two chapters examine “stationary sonic environments,” defined as sonic spaces that remain in place and relatively unchanged by a player’s movement. The second analyzes “moving sonic environments,” defined as sonic spaces that change and develop as the player moves through them. The conclusion of this thesis offers ideas for additional areas of research as well as emphasizes the importance of scholarship on video game music.



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