Searching “Super Mario Theme” on YouTube will yield many unique renditions on a range of instruments including guitars, pianos, church organs, ukuleles, wine glasses, flutes, and 11-string basses. And while they’re all special and unique in their own way, no non-electric instrument can truly replicate that distinct 8-bit sound of the original game.

…Or can it? The sheng (shou in Japanese) is a Chinese musical instrument whose origins date back to 1,100 BC, and in a YouTube video that has recently taken Japan by storm we can see that this traditional instrument was way, way ahead of its time as it perfectly imitates the background music and sound effects of the original Super Mario Bros.

After a brief introduction by the lecturer, a young girl takes a seat carrying a large what looks like that instrument Dolph Lundgren used to switch dimensions in Masters of the Universe.

It’s actually a series of bamboo flutes that are arranged like a pipe organ over a single mouth piece. Although more traditional shengs simply used holes in the bamboo, advancements over the millennia have led to the keyed version this young woman is playing.

Sticklers of the original Super Mario Bros. theme song may find subtle differences such as the tempo. However, when she does the sound effects like the coin-getting chime and the super-size mushroom sound we doubt you’d be able to tell the difference if there was no accompanying video.

Netizens agree using every synonym for “amazing” they could muster. Many were impressed with the sound effects, saying: “That sounds identical to the coin sound!” While one viewer simply said it “was godlike.”

It’s an impressive display of what traditional Chinese musical instruments can do, and would lead to a rush on shengs around the globe if it weren’t for their exorbitant prices. The sheng pictured on the right is selling on Amazon now and it’s nowhere near the quality of the one that woman was playing, but it could be yours for just 472,500 yen (US$4,646).

Source: YouTubeET Today (Chinese)
Sheng Image: Amazon
Below videos: YouTube – Li Li Chin 1, 2, sting fujita, henrytwinsja, HIKAKIN, SteelSpartan003, Justin Patrick Williams
Original article by Meg Sawai

Some more sheng performances by the same woman (Li Li-chin). Although they’re different songs they still seem to have the 8-bit flavor to them in a beautiful way

And with some orchestra accompaniment

Here’s a Japanese man playing a smaller sheng that probably cost around a thousand bucks

For comparison, here’s some other interpretations of the Super Mario Theme played by

Wine Glasses


11-String Bass

Stepper Motor

[ Read in Japanese ]