Musical instruments and songs are a common part of the gameplay in the Legend of Zelda series, having appeared in the original Legend of Zelda as well as every other one since (with the exception of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass).
They are most commonly used to teleport or otherwise transport Link from one place to another, but they can also be used for a variety of other tasks, including but not limited to defeating enemies, summoning and awakening characters, and manipulating time. In his various quests, Link comes upon many musical instruments from upon which these songs are played, and several games cannot be completed without their aid.
Link can play a melody on the Recorder. In the Overworld, this summons a whirlwind which can wipe out enemies, or carry Link to a dungeon entrance he's already visited, in numerical order. It must also be used to open one dungeon. Certain dungeon enemies are vulnerable to the sound of the Recorder being played. The notes played are the same as the one heard playing during the intro screen sequence in Ocarina of Time. The notes are just one part of what would become a complete melody. The Recorder is similar to other instruments in the Legend of Zelda series since it can teleport the user across the overworld.
Playing the Flute will get Link past certain obstacles on the Overworld Map and is also used to open the 6th dungeon.
In the Light World, the Flute is used to summon a bird that can carry Link to nine different locations. The flute was called a flute in the SNES version of the game, but in the Japanese version of the game, it was always called an ocarina. In the re-release for Game Boy Advance and Virtual Console, it is still labeled as the Flute.
In the Dream Shrine in Mabe Village, Link obtains an Ocarina. He can play it before he learns any songs but will only produce a flat, tuneless string of notes with no coherent melody, and no effect whatsoever. Link can learn a total of three songs - the "Ballad of the Wind Fish", "Manbo's Mambo", and the "Frog's Song of Soul" - the first time in the series that Link is able to learn multiple songs on his instrument; this would later become the standard for a majority of future installments.
After Link completes the first dungeon, Link is given a Fairy Ocarina as a memento from his friend Saria. Later in the game, Link obtains the Ocarina of Time. There are twelve songs to be learned in the game; however, it is also possible to play songs of the player's creation, due to the ocarinas requiring the gamer to play each note, instead of just using the instrument as in previous Zelda games. There are two groups of songs, each divided into six separate songs. Many of the song motifs also appear throughout the soundtrack. Some of the songs also reappear in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
The first group of six songs have various uses, and consist of "Zelda's Lullaby", "Epona's Song", "Saria's Song", the "Song of Time", the "Sun's Song", and the "Song of Storms". The first five songs are learned when Link is a child, but the sixth can only be learned while he is an adult.
The second group of six songs are teleportation songs, that when played, teleport Link to ornamental platforms in the vicinity of certain areas, for the most part near dungeons. Each song is named after both a different musical style and the respective dungeon where the song teleports Link to. These songs include the "Minuet of Forest", the "Bolero of Fire", the "Serenade of Water", the "Nocturne of Shadow", the "Requiem of Spirit" and the "Prelude of Light". All of these songs are taught to Link by Sheik.
There is also an optional song known as the "Scarecrow's Song", which the player must "create" themselves. By playing a tune for the scarecrow named Bonooru in Lake Hylia while Link is a youth, the "Scarecrow's Song" is created. Subsequently, Link can play this song for Bonooru in the future, who will have his friend Pierre become Link's companion throughout his adventure. When played near areas where Navi lights up, Pierre will appear, allowing Link to use his Hookshot or Longshot to grapple himself towards where Pierre is standing, allowing him to reach high platforms, some of which are otherwise inaccessible.
Link again uses the Ocarina of Time as his main instrument. Unlike in Ocarina of Time, however, there are ten songs, which again are grouped into two groups of five. When Link is wearing one of the three transformation masks, his current form will produce their own instrument rather than the Ocarina of Time; Deku Link plays on the Pipes of Awakening, Goron Link produces the Drums of Sleep, and Zora Link plays on Mikau's Guitar of Waves.
The first group of five songs have various effects throughout the game and include some songs that were featured in Ocarina of Time. The songs are the "Song of Time", "Song of Healing", "Epona's Song", the "Song of Storms" and the "Song of Soaring", the latter of which is optional.
The second group of songs are special songs, which can again be grouped into two separate groups. The first four must be played in order to access the four dungeons of Termina and have other abilities as well. The fifth song must be used to summon the Four Giants during the battle with the Skull Kid at the top of the Clock Tower. These songs are the "Sonata of Awakening", the "Goron Lullaby", the "New Wave Bossa Nova", the "Elegy of Emptiness" and the "Oath to Order".
In addition to these ten, the "Scarecrow's Song" appears once again, and has the same function as the one from Ocarina of Time. Also, the "Song of Time", which is used in-game to control time, can be played in different ways with different effects. The "Inverted Song of Time" slows down the passing of time when the notes of the song are played in reverse. The "Song of Double Time" speeds up time and allows Link to skip time until the next dawn or sundown during the three-day cycle. If these two versions of the "Song of Time" are counted as separate songs, the game's song count is increased to 12 songs, the same amount of songs in Ocarina of Time.
There are also some songs that Link cannot learn, but which are notable in their own right. The "Ballad of the Wind Fish", its title being a reference to the song from Link's Awakening is a song that Toto, manager of The Indigo-Go's, asks Link to perform for him as a means of testing the sound system in the Milk Bar. The various musical tracks of the song must be played by the different forms that Link can assume. The "Melody of Darkness" is a song that the composer Sharp conducts in order to kill Link when he attempts to break the curse placed on him. Another notable song is "Farewell to Gibdos", a song which destroys all Gibdos in the Ikana area.
Just outside North Clock Town there is a wall with notes on it. Playing the songs produce Rupees. The songs composed on the wall are some of the songs in Ocarina of Time that did not reappear as learnable songs in Majora's Mask.
In both The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons Link gets a flute called the Strange Flute. It is used to summon his animal companion once he gets them, at which point the name will change to <name of companion>'s Flute.
In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages Link is given a harp called the Harp of Ages which is able to manipulate time. He learns 3 songs for it, each of which enables him to travel through time in a particular way.
This is used to activate Time Portals to travel between the past and the present. Time Portals are only found in certain locations so at first Link's time-traveling ability is limited.
This allows Link to travel from anywhere in the past to the present without finding a Time Portal, but not the other way around. It does however, leave a small portal on the ground in the present that allows Link to travel back to the same point in the past.
This is the final song Link learns and is essentialy an upgraded "Tune of Currents" as it allows travel freely between the past and present.
At one point early on in the game, Link receives a conductor's baton called the Wind Waker that can be used to to play magical songs. Although played with the C-Stick like the Ocarina of Time, Link must also match the tempo displayed on screen. He can also change between 3/4, 4/4, and 6/4 time using the Analog Stick.
The "Wind's Requiem" is the first song Link learns on Dragon Roost Island. It is used to change the direction of the wind. By doing this Link can create winds to power King of Red Lions and bear him to his destination.
Link learns the "Ballad of Gales" after defeating Cyclos in a cyclone area of the Great Sea. This song is used to summon cyclones to instantaneously teleport him to select areas around the Great Sea, greatly reducing his traveling time. The larger of the Mother & Child Isles can only be reached via this song. A bit of Minuet of Forest from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is mixed into this song at the end.
This is identical to the "Sun's Song" from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time that is used to change day to night and vice versa. Although it sounds the same as its counterpart, it is played differently.
This is used within dungeons to take control of other characters to perform specific tasks. In Tower of the Gods it controls the statues, while in the Earth and Wind Temples it is used to take control of Link's companions, Medli and Makar respectively.
These two songs are both associated with a dungeon and sage in the game: "Earth God's Lyric" with Medli and the Earth Temple, and "Wind God's Aria" with Makar and the Wind Temple, similar to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's transport songs. They are used to awaken their sages and open the inner entrances to the dungeons, as well as clear obstacles inside them. The Earth God's Lyric is taught to Link by Laruto, the former Sage of Earth and the Wind God's Aria is taught to Link by Fado, the former Sage of Wind. The title theme of the game incorporates both songs. Additionally, playing the "Wind God's Aria" in front of a broken sign will repair it.
This game contains only one song (The same song played by the recorder in The Legend of Zelda) and one instrument: the Ocarina of Wind. It is almost identical to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past's Flute, being used to summon a transport bird. However this one can only take Link to Wind Crests scattered around Hyrule, all but one of which must first be found and activated by Link before they can be used, similar to the "Song of Soaring" and owl statues in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. It also sounds like the tune played on the flute in Super Mario Bros. 3 to summon tornadoes to go to the warp zones.
Link can pick a plant referred to as Horse Grass and play "Epona's Song" to summon his horse. Later in the game, he is given the Horse Call, which can summon Epona at any time. At other times, Link uses a similar plant called Hawk Grass to summon a hawk.
Howling Stones whistle songs that allow access to Hidden Skills or areas if Link howls along in his wolf form. He has the ability to howl in three different pitches: low, regular, and high. Many of the tunes emitted by the Howling Stones are songs found in other Zelda games—namely, the "Song of Healing", the "Requiem of Spirit", the "Prelude of Light", "Zelda's Lullaby", and the "Ballad of Gales". Additionally, one Howling Stone sings a variation of the Twilight Princess main theme, while another whistles a seemingly unique tune.
"Zelda's Lullaby" is used three times in the Sacred Grove, with the last time granting access to the Master Sword and the Temple of Time. Meanwhile, the "Serenade of Water" is heard whenever Link encounters Queen Rutela, and plays when Prince Ralis gives Link the Coral Earring.
Songs are played on the Spirit Flute and are learned from Song Stones. The "Song of Awakening" awakens sleeping statues for a short while, which usually provide advice. The "Song of Discovery" reveals hidden Treasure Chests in certain locations. The "Song of Healing" summons a fairy known as the Spirit of Healing in dangerous locations such as dungeons and boss arenas. The "Song of Light" causes Light Crystals to shine forth with a beam of light. The "Song of Birds" summons a bird that Link can use in conjunction with the Whip to fly short distances. The "Lokomo Song" is a special song, played as a duet between Link and a Lokomo elder. When played, the "Lokomo Song" restores part of the Spirit Tracks in a given area. It does not appear on the Collection Screen. The "Lokomo Song" is also played at the final stage of the game to expose a weak spot on Malladus' back.
Songs are played on the Goddess's Harp, and learned on the Isle of Songs. They are "Din's Power", "Farore's Courage", and "Nayru's Wisdom". Throughout the game, Link also learns the "Ballad of the Goddess" and the "Song of the Hero".