Tanaka – Tetris Theme Sequence

This sequence is based on the theme from Nintendo’s Tetris, written by Hirokazu Tanaka.


Known for his work in sound design and sound engineering for Nintendo, Hirokazu Tanaka helped modernize video game sounds past the repetitive sound effects of the early 80s into a world of variety in the late 80s and beyond.

He introduced the idea of adding and removing layers of the music with Donkey Kong 3, the first game where he acted as both composer and sound designer.

These steps helped pave the way toward more involved musical scores to complement the increasing complexity of the games. The theme music for Tetris is not one of Tanaka’s most complex works, but it has a cool backstory that explains why the music is so good. More on this in a bit.


Built in 1984 by Russian Programer Alexey Pajitnov, Tetris is one of the most well known video games ever. The simple rules and ever increasing difficulty made the game addicting, so much so that the game was banned by the Moscow Medical Institute because it was distracting employees from their work.

The game has been shown to increase brain activity, boost general cognitive functions such as “critical thinking, reasoning, language and processing” and even increase cerebral cortex thickness.


I never thought music about the music from Tetris other than noticing how well the melody stuck in my head. It turns out that Tanaka’s Tetris theme is based on an old Russian folk song from the late 1800s. This song is called Korobeiniki, and tells the story of a meeting between a peddler and a girl, describing their haggling over goods in a metaphor for courtship.

As soon as I discovered the Russian song roots, everything started to make sense. Now when I hear the Tetris (theme A) song, it makes me want to put on my grandfather’s rabbit fur ushanka hat and attempt a cossack dance. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m athletic enough to pull it off.

Compare the original Russian Folk song with Tanaka’s variation below.


Play this song with some urgency. Those blocks are falling! Use the original synthesizer version as inspiration for cloning your best sound and articulations from beginning to end.

Have any questions? Comment below, or leave a comment on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Happy Practicing!

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