This neuroscientist plays amazing covers of videogame soundtracks on classical guitar

Cecil Chau, aka GuitarSVD, plays an arrangement on his classical nylon-string guitar at his desk.

Something much of the world discovered during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo this summer is that many of Japan’s best composers are working in the videogame industry. Game soundtracks have never been better, and there’s a YouTuber who has devoted his channel to sharing his love for the music of MMORPGs like Final Fantasy XIV and Genshin Impact, action-adventure games like Nier: Automata, and even the relaxing block-building of Minecraft.

Cecil Chau is a Vancouver-based neuroscientist who is also a huge fan of videogames, as well as a talented classical guitarist. His YouTube channel is called GuitarSVD – he says the SVD stands for ‘singular value decomposition,’ which he explains is a “very useful tool in statistics and image processing.” If that sounds stressfully complex, don’t worry: the channel itself is filled with Chau’s beautiful and calming arrangements of some of gaming’s best music.

Chau has posted quite a few videos based on Final Fantasy and other JRPG series, but his tastes are eclectic – he’ll play just about any composition he finds appealing, and his videos cover a broad range of soundtracks from Cyberpunk 2077 to Genshin Impact.

Here’s his performance of Tango of the Troupple King from Shovel Knight:

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This is Ludwig of the Holy Blade, from the Bloodborne score:

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Chau even busted out Kazuma Kiryu’s signature suit to play Yakuza 0’s iconic karaoke hit, Baka Mitai (Dame Da Ne):

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His version of Keiichi Okabe’s Yonah / Ashes of Dreams from the Nier Replicant soundtrack is simply gorgeous:

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In most of his recent uploads, Chau has included both the musical notation and tablature for the songs he’s played, so you can take a crack at his arrangements yourself.

You can buy him a coffee via Ko-fi if his music leaves you feeling relaxed and day-dreamy, the way it does for us.

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