TIME Music

This Ancient Chinese Instrument Was Made to Play the Super Mario Bros. Theme

Right down to the sounds of collecting coins and mushrooms.

We’re assuming that when the musical instrument known as the sheng was invented in China thousands of years ago, no one knew that it would one day be used to play a magically spot-on version of the Super Mario Bros. theme music. But here we are.

At a recent concert in Taipei, Taiwan, a performer treated her audience to the classic video game tune, complete with all the nuanced sound effects, played entirely on the sheng. It’s pretty bizarre to hear that modern music coming from such an ancient instrument, right? Well, keep in mind that the instrument this performer is playing isn’t in itself ancient, but evolved from something ancient. Slate explains:

This particular sheng could very well have been engineered specifically to sound like an old Nintendo. It’s not like it was unearthed by archaeologists and when they played it, the mystical thread that binds all things Asian was revealed at last. The oddity here isn’t how much an ancient instrument sounds like modern technology, but how much a modern instrument echoes ancient video game technology.

It’s still pretty amusing to think of ancient Chinese emperors hanging out playing Super Mario Bros. in their opium dens.

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