Ancient Chinese Instrument Sounds Like Super Mario Bros!

Nintendo Entertainment System or ancient Chinese instrument? It's sometimes hard to tell the difference!

Surfacing on YouTube recently is a video of a member of the Taiwan Philharmonic playing the Super Mario Bros theme on an ancient chinese instrument known as the sheng. Despite being more than 3000 years old, the sound it makes bares an uncanny resemblance to more modern 8-bit music.

Shimmy and Sheng

Given Nintendo's East Asian origins, albeit Japanese rather than Chinese, when you think about it, it's not so surprising that something that sounds so quintessentially Asian should work its way into a modern video game soundtrack. None the less, this fusion of ancient music and an instantly recognisable theme tune is a sheer delight. Kudos to the performer in displaying the similarities between a sheng and a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) soundboard. And it certainly wasn't a childhood wasted playing Super Mario Bros!

For something a bit less frivolous that shows off the really beauty of the instrument's sound, check out this rendition of Chen Gang and He Zhanhao's famous Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto played on the instrument.

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Bearded British game-bear. Likes his JRPGs accompanied with a G&T. Lives in London, UK. Also writes a lot about theatre and film. *jazz hands*

Published Feb. 26th 2014

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