Super Mario Bros. is one of the most renowned games in history. It helped resurrect a dying video game industry in the mid-'80s and still remains one of the best-selling video games of all time—one reason why the new NES Classic Edition is so popular and impossible to get these days. Its simple story of a plumber trying to rescue a princess resulted in a video game empire for Nintendo.
Along with the canon of characters we've come to love, such as Goomba, Toad, and Bowser, one of the more well-recognized elements of the game is actually its incredibly catchy theme song. Well, you've never heard it quite like this before.
Warning: this will hit you right in the childhood feels.
The actual title of this bit of music is the "Ground Theme" or "Overworld Theme," and you can download the MP3 from Nintendo. Written by Koji Kondo, a Japanese video game composer, the music was created using a synthesizer to imitate the sound of steel drums.
In the video above, Taiwanese musician Li-chin Li recreates the timbre and sound quality of the steel drums using an ancient Chinese instrument dating back to 1100 BCE, the sheng. She masterfully plays the theme, taking extra care to reproduce the sounds of coins being collected.
The sheng is a free reed instrument, which means that sound is produced as the blown air vibrates a reed within the frame. As she blows into the mouthpiece, the reeds will vibrate at a fixed frequency, which is determined by pressing the keys, and the sound will be conducted through the vertical pipes. Because this instrument is played by both inhaling and exhaling, there is a possibility for continuous sound, as well as for multiple notes to be played simultaneously.
While this may be the most realistic interpretation of this famous theme, it is not the only one. It seems like internet geekery loves this melody, yielding interpretations on a homemade PVC instrument, beatboxing flute, floppy disk drives, and bottles struck by an RC car. Given the level of creativity used in these interpretations, I can't wait to see what people will come up with next.
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