Posts tagged: Rock Band

Trumpet Hero! Why Should Guitarists Have All the Fun?

I’ll admit to having sat on this one awhile, just because I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it. It’s so intriguing, though, that I just had to share it.

Ready to Squeal!

Courtney Sexton posted his answer to Guitar Hero in this article showing how he hacked together a Sony PS2 controller and a roached-out cornet to create TRUMPET HERO (video included)! It’s not for the faint of heart – if you get woozy from seeing real instruments (even sad ones) destroyed, please save yourself! – but it’s an interesting project.

It’s as close as you’re likely to get to actually “playing trumpet” in a videogame. Your breath is used as a replacement to strumming a guitar controller (no buzzing, though – just breathing through the pipe), and the valves/keys (plus a couple) are color-matched to guitar controller fret keys. Not a perfect match-up, but actually pretty clever.

Check it out! We’ve discussed before the benefits you can obtain from playing music-based videogames (see links at bottom of article), but this one takes things in a different direction. While we all probably agree that limited time would be better spent practicing a real instrument than pretending to play one, videogames are a fun outlet for many of us…and something that often kindles an interest in the thing being “gamed”. What do you think? Should Trumpet Hero (!), Guitar Hero, or Rock Band be cast in the dumpster? Or should music departments use them as recruitment tools and bridge builders?

Whatever you play, keep playing!
Mark

P.S. – Please keep comments respectful! It’s a big (musical) world out there.  :-)

 

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Can Videogames (Finally) Help You Play Better?

Music videogames stir strong opinions in some musicians, and Part-Time Musicians (PTMs) as a group are no exception. But with the latest round of gameplay improvements and controller updates, have we now reached the point where playing a music videogame can really improve our music-making skills?

This is a large topic that can be approached from several perspectives, and we’ve covered two of those before (see From virtual musician to real musician and Videogaming helps your mad music-making skillz!), but this zeroes in on the typical configurations that are seen in most homes – or the setups that the Rock Band folks hope soon will be.

In this article from our friends at cnet, Dan Ackerman puts Rock Band 3 to the test and finds that it comes very close to the “real thing”. And while they take a slightly different tack, Dan notes that the people behind First Act are working to close the gap between “play music” and playing music, too. It’s a great article that has had me mulling since I first saw it, and I suspect it will you, too.

So what do you think? Will music videogames eventually get to the point where (we) real musicians use them as a training aid? Or will adding sophistication spoil the fun for the larger market and kill the games before we get there? Are we already there?   :-)

Drop us a line and share your thoughts! And whether you take an occasional videogame break or not, keep that music coming…

All the best,
Mark

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From virtual musician to real musician

It wasn’t always the case, but I now believe that music video games can contribute to the Part-Time Musician’s development in some ways – and they’re a lot of fun! That last part – the fun – is what draws the vast majority of gamers to pick up Rock Band or Guitar Hero. But why should the fun stop when you shut off the game console?

It’s common sense, regardless of the activity: if you enjoy it, you’ll be more committed, you’ll do it better, and you’ll reap more benefits…which leads to deeper commitment, better performance, more benefits…well, you know where this is going.  :-)

I’ve already written about the benefits of music video games to current PTMs, but what about those who have yet to discover their longing to play real music? Don’t we all want to get others hooked on our playing addiction? Well…of course we do!

Fender's Rick Heins rocks out with the new G-DEC 3 amp

I ran across this article about some great things Fender is doing to entice new musicians into the fold and to appeal to current musicians as well. Check out these nuggets:

“Guitarists using Fender’s new $299 G-DEC 3 amplifier, on sale in April, will get the traditional boost, echo, reverb and other heavy amplified sounds. But the G-DEC 3 is also a “band in a box,” letting musicians play along with 100 music tracks in various styles created by guitarists such as Brad Paisley and Keith Urban. There’s an SD slot for adding MP3 files to the amp.”

“Fender just launched ejamming.com, a site where guitarists can plug into the Net and jam with musicians around the world. The site features free downloadable software that allows musicians to connect. The music can be recorded and saved. There’s a one-month free trial and $9.99 a month subscription.”

I’m excited enough about these developments to give ejamming.com a try myself, and if anyone has any connections at Fender, I’d be more than willing to do a review of the G-DEC 3…so put me in touch, please! 8-)

What do you think? While these developments can’t fully replace a live, in-person jam session, they certainly could help keep one driving toward their musical goals with a smile. Interested? Leave a comment! We’d love to hear from you.

Keep playing,
Mark

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Videogaming helps your mad music-making skillz!

I had an experience today that changed my outlook a bit on video games. In a good way. Today I “discovered” Guitar Hero. 8-)

Guitar HeroI had shunned all of the “guitar god” games that have been released over the past few years, dismissing them as fads for those who aren’t committed enough to apply themselves to learning to play a real instrument (sniff!). After all, pressing a few buttons and “strumming” a flipper on a cheap plastic guitar doesn’t exactly translate to music-making, now does it?

Today, I spent the afternoon with some good friends who insisted that I try a round of Guitar Hero III. Frankly, I had little desire to do so…but I do consider myself a good sport, so after an exhaustive 30-second training seminar, I was turned loose on a, well, cheap plastic guitar with buttons and a flipper. And now, dear reader, I’m hooked.

It brought to mind old memories of our family sitting in the family room floor playing Donkey Konga. I had first seen an aspiring musician playing Donkey Konga at a local Toys-R-Us, and once the youngster walked away, I gave it a try. By the time I was joined by the rest of my family, I knew we had found the GameCube’s “killer app”. Not only was it fun, it really did boost your listening and rhythm skills. Long before Wii Fit came along, Donkey Konga made you break a sweat playing a videogame…and have a great time doing it!

Guitar Hero is like that, too – and better. I noticed immediately that my play/playing improved dramatically when I listened, rather than watched, what was coming up in the song. Before many measures had passed, I was locked on…and appreciating the value of the “musician games” on the market. Two of our daughters, both violinists and one an occasional guitarist, noted the same thing.

Musician games (Guitar Hero, Rock Band, etc.) won’t make you a musician, but they will help you with your listening skills and timing, and may even give you some ideas for technical improvement; after all, there’s a pretty nice backing track with each song. Don’t put away the (real) guitar, bass, drums, or any other instrument if you want to continue to grow in your playing abilities. But for a fun diversion that really will help your playing, it’s okay to occasionally plug one of the many games in the Guitar Hero/Rock Band and similar franchises. You just might be surprised at the results. After all, learning is wherever you find it.  :-)

Keep playing,
Mark

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