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Video Game Music...LIVE!

Updated on December 2, 2009
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It's Guitar Hero in reverse.

For some it is not enough to simply conquer a game, they need to conquer the score as well. No, not the high score but the musical score.

For quite a while now I have been cruising video sites like YouTube to find interesting videos in my pursuit to improve as a drummer while playing as little as possible. That in itself is sad in itself but over time I have found quite a few fun videos of people playing their favorite video game music on real instruments.

Martin Leung's Super Mario Jam

Video games, music, and blindfolds?

Possibly the first video of someone playing video game music live that really got a lot of views was of a young blindfolded man playing songs from the original Super Mario Brothers for the original 8 bit Nintendo Entertainment System.

Martin Leung, born in Hong Kong and raised in California, would soon be known as the Video Game Pianist, playing for audiences around the world that wanted to hear his live versions of the simple digital music that we all know so well. His amazing skills combined with his learning lots of other game sound tracks has earned him shows in London, Toronto, Paris and all over the U.S.

The Legend of Zelda

Game music takes off

With the popularity of the early videos a lot of other musicians put their own videos out playing their favorite video game music on the keyboard.  Just about any common game you can think of has been done, some are wonderful pieces played by talented musicians, others are better not viewed for those prone to migraines. 

The one thing they all had in common was they were the combination of a love for both the music and the games themselves.  With thousands of video game soundtracks to chose from people naturally chose many of their favorites from their childhood.

Pascal van Stekelenburg, of Shade Music Studios has recorded some of the finest recordings of video game music being played on a keyboard as well as some cool original compositions.

Super Mario Bothers 3

Drums and the game of thumbs

Well the keyboards hold on video game music didn't last long as all sorts of people started to get in on the fun of mocking game music on their instruments. 

On the drums, the most successful person in this unique niche may be Italian drummer Andrea Vadrucci, or Vadrum as he is known online.  His video of the first Super Mario Brothers song on drums has over 11 million view as of December 1st, 2009!  He has also earned the YouTube honor of most subscribed person in Italy.

Final Fantasy VII

Guitars shredding, and it's not Guitar Hero!

Of course the guitar fanatics out there weren't going to just stand by and not put in their two cents.  In fact guitarists had played video game music before, it's just that none of them had worn a blindfold and gone viral on the internet.  Now that there was a desire and a genre though, the real guitar heroes of the world came out in full force.

Daniel Tidwell, a guitar player from Virginia has been one of the most successful, his YouTube fame leading him to release a full album, Versus Video Games in late 2009.

Mortal Kombat

I can do one better, finish him!

Everyone wanted in now, everyone wanted to get their video uploaded of them plucking the Mario theme faster then the last guy.  By this time you have to be different to get noticed, you have to step it up a notch. 

That's exactly what one Ohio man did, he stepped it up a notch by playing not only a favorite of many video game lovers, Mortal Kombat, but he did it on a keyboard and a guitar simultaneously.  The result, closing in on two million views!

Orchestras join the band wagon

Not missing a beat, video game composers (someone had to write that music!) and video game developers created a live concert series in 2005 to have a real live orchestra play video game inspired music to clips of video games being played on a large screen over them.  The show has had worldwide success and has expanded from three shows in 2005 to over 70 shows in 2009.

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      Jason B 8 years ago

      This is great! I would sit and figure out how to play video game music years ago. Now movie sounds? Lots of fun. Thanks!