OK, so you know sometimes how you get a weekend pretty much at home to yourself (other than going out to a picnic in a pub, and then down to Greenwich to farewell some friends who are moving back to Australia)? Well, here’s what I did.
As well as tidying my room up, I went looking on YouTube for videos of people playing the Super Mario Brothers theme tune.
OK, so it turns out that many people on the planet have recorded themselves recreating this masterpiece in various forms – there are some quite impressive displays by talented groups of people.
For starters, the Rollins Percussion Ensemble put in a workmanlike performance on this version. I was a little disappointed that “percussion” included tuned percussion, such as xylophones and whatnot. They were very good, but I was hoping for 100% drumkit action.
Moving on, an a capella choir put together this video game medley. Again: very talented, but the problem with this sort of outfit is they can’t seem to perform without injecting a massive level of smugness into the performance. Although I’ve got to admit that their Tetris-choreography made me giggle.
Diametrically opposite, there’s a thoroughly awesome Metal version. This could even rival the Nine Inch Goombas’ mashup version of the Mario theme with Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”.
Moving on to solo renditions, it seems there’s no shortage there either. Ocarina lovers, strap in & relax, because there’s no shortage of small-round-clay-pipe Mario goodness on YouTube.
Moving on slightly in the trickiness stakes, this chap gave the tune a go on the button accordion. Every time I hear a new instrument cranking this song out I find myself wondering how close to the sound of the original it gets, and in this case, I’d say “very”.
Which makes a fairly stark and obvious contrast to sciency hand-wavey favourite, the Theremin. It’s not an instrument I feel that many people would honestly fall in love with the sound of. Unless they were mental.
The performances got more virtuosic, such as the chap playing the 11 String Bass – quite why a bass needs that many strings is a bit of a frigging mystery, other than to say that “this one goes to 11!”. It seems a fairly impractical instrument, however he does a fairly handy job of cranking out the piece using almost a double-hand-fingerpick simulation.
Of course if you can’t get access to an 11 string guitar, you can always do like this guy and just employ 2 normal guitars and a big fuckoff metal clamp to hold one in place.
Wind instruments were largely under-represented in this particular niche. There was a bassoon quartet, but they were playing the tune from Mario 3, which wasn’t the one I wanted. Another chap on the flute also incorporated the art of beatboxing and nailed a fairly spectacular version using a technique which is presumably called Fluteboxing.
But why should music be limited to conventional means (assuming anyone regards a theremin as conventional)? Expanding on the tuned percussion notion, there’s no earthly reason why you can’t create a playable musical sequence out of a bunch of glass bottles filled up with various amounts of water lined up along a flat surface, then run a small hammer across them somehow. Super Mario, on the Remote Controlled Car & Bottles:
Not all performances need be so intricate however. They can still involve common household objects, such as the guy who claimed to be able to play the tune on the Banana tried to show (I excluded that one from this compendium, on the grounds that it was too silly). Thrubbing a Ruler on the edge of a desk, however, seems perfectly reasonable.
For every homegrown talent-show novelty idea conceived by a 12-year-old, you’ve also got an enthusiast highly skilled in some esoteric and wholly unmarketable field, such as The Manualist. It truly fills the heart with joy to see this man at work.
But the hands-down best rendition of the tune on YouTube today is without doubt the one that combines science, danger, and retro-musical stylings – the Singing Tesla Coils. Watching this video left me thinking all sorts of things, notably, “I wonder what would happen to the dude playing the theremin if that was cranked up to 10,000 volts too?”.
So there we have it folks – this is why I go out on weekends.