Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Both music and language are powerful intertextual tools. However, the literature on the interplay between musical and verbal modalities as it relates to intertextuality is limited (Briggs & Bauman, 1992). The present analysis attends to this understudied relationship in a similarly understudied genre-- video games. I examine how music and language work in concert to create intertextual links between characters and events in the latest installment of the Japanese video game series The Legend of Zelda. Indeed, the Zelda series is particularly well known for its music, drawing overt commentary from critics and fans alike, making it an ideal site for the study of music and language. Breath of the Wild, the latest installment of the nineteen title series, is no exception. A particularly pivotal cutscene in Breath of the Wild reveals how music and language are used to both liken and differentiate Breath of the Wild from previous Zelda games. As the narrative progresses from revealing Breath of the Wild-specific events and characters to invoking series-wide events and characters, the musical score progresses in parallel from the marked minimalist score that Breath of the Wild is known for, to the sweeping, orchestral themes used in previous Zelda games. In other words, the juxtaposition of music within the same narrative situates Breath of the Wild as a unique installment embedded within a familiar series. This analysis highlights the potential of video games as a genre in which to explore the relationship between language, music, and meaning.