29 Mar 2013

Game Theory: Live video game music mashup

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UK-based Ithaca audio celebrates 35 years of video game music with a delightful mashup, performed live via hacked Nintendo controllers

Remember mashups? The concept is simple: take seemingly incongruous pieces of media and cram them together, forming a new artistic creation. Liberating art from its intended context, the mashup fad first began in music, as producers and DJs melded such far-flung works such as the Beatles’ White Album and Jay-Z’s Black Album into something decidedly gray (thanks Dangermouse). It was in these typically uneasy pairings that producers harnessed the power of familiar source material to open an unending world of digital possibilities.

Like the Video Game Crash of 1983...

Mashups branched from the world of music into video, as everyone with the will and access to a rudimentary NLE made their own mashups, with varying degrees of success. As is often the case, when everyone’s doing something, many badly, it’s bound to lose its specialness, and so mashups, like many a fad, faded into the back of our collective consciousness.

A mashup with DIY attitude

However, every once in awhile, a mashup will pop onto the scene that strikes such a chord that it’s impossible to ignore. To commemorate 35 years of video game music, Ithaca Audio, a studio based in Brighton (UK), made its own mashup, with a decidedly ‘maker’ flair. The mashup is actually performed live, as evidenced in the video’s lower right hand window. Yes, those are two old school Nintendo controllers, and yes, those onscreen fingers are controlling the action. The NES controllers were rewired for HID compliance (a fancy way of saying USB). A lightweight application converted those HID signals into MIDI, driving additional performance software.

If you’ve ever wanted to see Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros., and Grand Theft Auto share the same screen real estate with David Bowie and Michael Jackson, then look no further. Or, more accurately, watch the mashup below.

 


Patrick Jong Taylor

Patrick Jong Taylor is former North American Editor of RedShark Media. He is currently the Director of Strategy at bigSTORY, a consultancy specializing in story-based analysis, strategy and production for corporate clients.

Website: bigstorybiz.com/

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