Hey friends! It’s been a long time since we’ve done a piano tutorial, so I thought I’d share one that I’ve taught plenty of times: Lost Woods from the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This is a great piece to learn:
- Fast-paced BTTT chords
- A variety of simple root-position and non-root-position chords
- How to play lightly and nimbly in the left hand
I’d recommend this piece for someone around a grade 1 level in piano – about a year or two in their belts. But you know your own level best!
Here’s what the piece sounds like in its original form;
Sheet music and downloads
Here is the sheet music for Lost Woods – now let’s dig into it!
Key of Lost Woods
So let’s take a look at this piece in some depth now. First of all, what key is it in?
This is a difficult question, because this piece is somewhat ambiguous. For example, my first clue would be the key signature – no sharps and flats – which is telling me we’re either in the key of C major or A minor. C major makes sense, somewhat, because there are a few C major chords spread out in the piece.
But the piece begins on an F chord and ends on an E major chord. Usually beginnings and endings give us some clues about what key our piece is in, but not this time! F major makes some sense, especially because D minor (F’s relative minor) comes up a lot – but there isn’t a single Bb in the entire piece.
And where does that strange E major chord come from? This is a secondary dominant, meaning it’s the dominant chord of the dominant chord. For example, if we were in the key of D minor, just like with the last line of music, the dominant chord would be A. And then the dominant of A would be E. So the E chord is just the dominant of the dominant – I illustrate this only to show that the chord choice isn’t entirely random, and gives us the feeling of this piece being in the key of D minor.
Like I said…it’s ambiguous!
Chords and slash chords
Let’s take a look at the chords in this piece. Some of our chords are in root position, like this opening F chord. Root position just means that the F chord starts on F. If the F chord started on C, it would no longer be in root position.
That’s where slash chords come in. You’ll see the chord C/E: What this means is you’re playing a C chord, but the bottom note isn’t going to be C. If you read the notes on the staff, you’ll see that the bottom note is E – hence C slash E, or C/E.
When I teach this piece, I start by playing solid chords in the left hand, not the BTTT pattern. You want your left hand to be comfortable with all of the chord shapes before you attempt any rapid-fire playing of those chords. This also gives you a chance to feel out the right hand and get comfortable with the rhythm and notes.
Once you’re comfortable playing like this, then add in the BTTT pattern – but I wouldn’t do more than the first line. If you try to play through the whole piece with the BTTTs, having never done it before, it’s going to feel a little laborious. It’s much better to master the BTTT pattern with the first line of music before moving forward, because you’ll notice the remaining lines will click into place much more easily.
Challenges of light and fast playing
One of the hardest parts about playing this piece, aside from getting it up to its fiendishly fast speed, is keeping the left-hand light. This gets more challenging the faster you play. The upper “T” notes come crashing down, and the whole piece sounds quite harsh. It’s important to keep a light thumb and third finger (or thumb and second finger) when playing the chords, and to maintain this even when speeding up the piece.
There’s a sprightly character in this piece, and we don’t want to ruin it with heavy hands!
Let’s also discuss this trill toward the end. It’s not truly a trill or a turn, but rather a fast-fingered 16th note passage in the melody. The best way to think about playing this, without getting too nitty-gritty into counting, is to think about playing it twice as fast as the preceding 8th notes.
Sometimes I teach this by skipping the 2nd and 4th notes, playing it as though it was a regular 2-note 8th note passage. It ends up being played E-E-E that way. Once you’re able to play it in this way, it’s easier to then go and “fit” the 2nd and 4th notes in (F and D) while having it make rhythmic sense.
I actually decided to put this video up for a friend of mine who wanted to learn it, but I hope some of you enjoy it as well! It’s a fun piece to play – easy to digest, difficult to execute.