Since they were invented, video games have used music to draw players in. From the iconic opening melody of the Super Mario Bros theme, to the sacred choir textures of the Halo opening, the themes are imported to introduce players to the game’s setting or to underscore an important battle. Musicians have been sharing their own arrangements of theme music from their favorite games on YouTube. Let's take a look at five of the best video game covers played on fingerstyle guitar.
“Streets of Whiterun”- James Bartholomew
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is mainly known for its main theme that can be heard in the main menu. Composer Jeremy Soule’s soundtrack also includes many ambient and incidental pieces that help players feel the scale and drama of their adventure. James Bartholomew takes the track “Streets of Whiterun” and strips it down to the essentials with his cover. Bartholomew takes the piano and string melodies of the original recording and interprets it beautifully. The atmosphere and scale of Soule’s original is still there but the simplicity of performing on a single instrument brings a new realm to this track. Bartholomew uploads covers weekly on his YouTube channel.
“The Last of Us Main Theme”- AcousticTrench
What’s better than a guitar cover video that includes a dog? How about a cover of one of the most respected PlayStation games in the best seven years of its development. Artist AcousticTrench takes Gustavo Santaolalla’s theme to "The Last of Us" and removes all the instruments but the guitar. Trench learned the guitar part and morphed its style into a more flamenco sound, resulting in a different feel to the original. While he doesn’t completely steer away from the original, Trench plays the piece flawlessly, making his cover stand out amongst others. You can check out AcousticTrench and his dog Maple on their channel.
“Zelda’s Theme”- Sungha Jung
Sungha Jung has been uploading covers and originals on YouTube for the past 11 years. He has been an iconic part of the fingerstyle community since his first upload. It is fitting that he covered one of the most iconic video game themes of all time. Koji Kondo’s The Legend of Zelda theme which has been ingrained into practically every gamer’s head since it was released in 1986. Jung performs the track with his own character. What make Jung’s track stand out is how similar it sounds to the original 8-bit track. He keeps the pulsating bassline while sustaining a peaceful fingerstyle arrangement. Sungha Jung can be found on YouTube so if you like what you heard check out his channel at the link provided.
“Around The Fire”- Lukasz Kapuscinski
Once again, Jeremy Soule’s Skyrim soundtrack makes an appearance. The track “Around the Fire” is a lute and drum track that starts when a player’s character enters an inn around the world of Skyrim. Lukasz Kapuscinski’s cover takes the atmospheric track and plays both the melody and drum parts on his guitar. He incorporates the repetitive motifs of the original song and arranges it flawlessly to his guitar. He layers different tracks of his playing on top of each other as if it sounds there are multiple guitars. This makes his arrangement stand out among the single track guitar versions. As someone very familiar with the game, sometimes I forget I am listening to the cover.
“Super Mario Bros” - Igor Presnyakov
Igor Presnyakov was one of the first fingerstyle guitar players I started listening to. His cover of Koji Kondo’s Super Mario Bros score is one of the most popular on YouTube. Presnyakov takes a few well known selections of Kondo’s music and packages them nicely into a short and sweet cover. The main theme is the highlight of this track, but Presnyakov ends the piece with a small selection of the cave/boss music played with a rhythmic tapping and slapping technique. After over 10 years on the platform, he still uploads covers on his channel.
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