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1980 World Pinball Championship


1980 World Pinball Championship by John Parker

The title of this work refers to a prestigious yet fictitious event in history: the ‘1980 World Pinball Championship’. Unfortunately, pinball was waning in popularity by the early 1980s being quickly replaced by video game fever. Games such as ‘Space Invaders’ and ‘Pac-Man’ led to pinball’s eventual demise.

However, imagine for a moment if things had turned out differently. What if video games had never been invented (I can’t bear the thought) and the year 1980 heralded the 1st international pinball competition. Imagine what it would have been like. Who would have competed? What was offered as the prizes? What would the hairstyles have been like? Even though I invented this artificial event in time, I can’t answer any of these questions for sure, but I can surmise what the accompanying theme music sounded like.

Come on a retro ride of elite level pinball through the inner workings of the very machines themselves. Feel the tension as the players battle it out for 1st place. Tilted machines, end of round shootouts and cheesy hand claps all take prominence in this light hearted and energetic work.

Performance notes:

It is important that ‘1980 World Pinball Championship’ is played well. Failure to do so will result in audience disappointment, personal dissatisfaction on a grand scale, possible loss of licence and hefty fines. In order to perform this work to its maximum potential, performers should play the notes in their correct order with accurate rhythm, dynamics and phrasing and should summon the spirit of the groove. Hours of addictive practise on pinball machines may/may not help with embodying the work. Feel free to decorate the performance space with pinball machines of various eras. Alternatively you may wish to unleash a giant metal ball (Raiders of the Lost Ark style) amongst the stage setup whilst the work is being performed for added excitement.


Player 1 – Glockenspiel & Vibraphone Solo

Player 2 – Xylophone

Player 3 – Vibraphone

Player 4 – Marimba 1

Player 5 – Xylophone Solo & Hand Claps 2

Player 6 – Marimba 2 High, Hand Claps 1 & Shaker

Player 7 – Marimba 2 Low

Player 8 – Electric bass (5 string) – (if 5 string bass not available use “drop C” tuning or play out of range notes up the octave)

Player 9 – Drum set

This piece was made possible through generous funding from the Regional Arts Development Fund. The Regional Arts Development Fund is a Queensland Government and Moreton Bay Regional Council partnership to support local arts and culture.

click here for a direct link to the audio file

Weight 495 g
Dimensions 31.0 × 23.0 × 1.0 cm

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