Zero-G Ethnic: The Sounds Behind Zelda & Other Classic Media

Zero-G Ethnic Flavours is a sample pack that's been used in hundreds of film, TV, and video game scores. Learn more about it in this post.

Tracking down samples from old video games? Some of the most distinct sounds came from Zero-G’s Ethnic libraries.

These sounds have been heard throughout the Legend of Zelda series, Crash Bandicoot, and dozens of other games throughout the year.

What is Zero-G Ethnic?

Ethnic is a series of sample libraries released by Zero-G. They feature loops, one-shots, and musical phrases from around the world, like African drums, tribal chants, ethnic flutes, and more. The samples were popular among film and game composers throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s. 

The first volume released in 1991, with a second volume coming later in 1994. A similar pack released in 1996 called “Ethnic Flavours”. 

While the original two volumes aren’t available for standalone purchase, many of their samples have been recycled into the Zero-G World Pack.

Zero-G World Pack

This bundle includes 12 classic Zero-G libraries. Combined, it has over 5,900 loops and samples spanning numerous instruments, cultures, and genres of world music from Celtic to Indian, Latin to the Pacific and more!

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Zero-G Ethnic Flavours

An exotic collection of ethnic instruments, rhythms, loops, and vocal phrases. Several sounds from this pack have featured in classic video game, tv, and film soundtracks.

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What’s Included With Ethnic & Ethnic Flavours?

Each pack comes with several megabytes worth of samples in various formats such as WAV, REX, AIFF, and Apple Loops. Inside, you’ll find hundreds of one-shots, phrases, and loops. Plus, there are individual notes you can import into a sampler for programming your own instruments.

Here are some highlights:

One-Shots and Phrases:

  • African Choir Phrases
  • Chinese Pipe Riff
  • Clave Hits
  • Darbuka Hits
  • Gaita Riff
  • Sitar Riffs
  • Tabla Hits & Grooves
  • West African Flute Riff

Instrument Notes

  • African Choir Notes
  • Chinese Flute Notes
  • Indian Flute Notes
  • Penny Whistle Notes
  • Sitar Notes

REX Loops & Grooves

  • African Guitar
  • Cabasa Grooves
  • Clam Pot Grooves
  • Djembe Grooves
  • Talking Drum Grooves

Where Have You Heard These Sounds Before?

The Forest Temple from Ocarina of Time. Image from

You’ve probably heard the samples from the Zero-G Ethnic series countless times without realizing it. 

And once you’re familiar with the packs, you’ll start noticing the sounds in plenty of media from the 1990s and early 2000s.

These sounds have shown up in hundreds of game and television scores throughout the years. Here’s a short list of notable video games that have used these samples:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
  • Diddy Kong Racing
  • Half-Life
  • Crash Bandicoot 2
  • Sonic R
  • Super Monkey Ball 3D

Uncanny X on YouTube has a fantastic video exploring the samples from this pack and how they’re used in different games.

As for television, the first example that comes to my mind is from Cartoon Network’s Courage the Cowardly Dog.

You can clearly hear the Thai Horn sample during the “King Ramses’ Curse” episode. Other samples from Zero-G’s Ethnic series appear throughout the series.

(Return the slab!)

Add Some Ethnic Flavours To Your Tracks

Despite its age, Zero-G’s Ethnic series still hold up as some of the most useful world music sample packs available.

The sounds are authentic and’ll enhance any project with their ethnic tones. And as past composers have demonstrated, you can transform the sounds into iconic works that stand the test of time.

Zero-G World Pack
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Zero-G Ethnic Flavours
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Find More Sounds from Classic Video Games

Over the years, Zero-G’s Ethnic samples have shown up in plenty of video games. And if you’re a fan of game music like us, you’d also be interested in other classic game samples.

We’ve tracked down instruments and samples from other classic Nintendo 64 games. Take a look:

We’ve also put together a list of the best chiptune software and VSTs. While the sounds are retro, they’ll spark your imagination and stoke your nostalgia.