Posts tagged: video

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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A “Just Too Cool” Music Video

From time to time, I like to share music related videos that catch my eye. This one from OK Go definitely does that! Rube Goldberg would be so proud.  :-)

Keep playing (but please take it easy on those pianos!),
Mark

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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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YouTube for musicians: technique

This is the third in a series of articles about using YouTube to accomplish your goals as a musician. Many of these goals overlap, but today, we’ll try to keep our focus to using YouTube to learn technique.

There are numerous ways to learn new technique on your chosen instrument. Some things require a great deal of effort working with a good instructor to really learn and master. Others can be absorbed easily after just a short demonstration. In either case – and in all cases that fall between them – a good demonstration can really facilitate learning to do something new with your instrument…or just learning to do something better.

Itzhak PerlmanOur youngest performed Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen with two area orchestras when she was 13 years old. Anyone who knows violin repertoire understands the difficulty associated with this piece, and our daughter worked very hard to learn it. Along the way, she spent a great deal of time observing the “masters” playing this piece…and one way she did that was via YouTube.

While this video could also fall under the “inspiration” category, Itzhak Perlman demonstrates a great deal of technique in it. Between Mr. Perlman, Jascha Heifetz, and others, we had sources-a-plenty to which to turn for visual and audible guidance, in addition to the excellent tutelage of our violin instructor, a professional violinist herself. But back to YouTube.

This video is instructive throughout, but if you want to preview why video/audio demonstrations can contribute so greatly to learning new technique, skip to 7:50 and watch to the end. Once you do that, you’ll probably want to watch it from the beginning to see what you missed in the build-up.  :-)

Getting a sound or technique into your “mind’s eye” can help you get there, provided you put in the work to learn and master it. YouTube is a great way to do that, offering opportunities to see and hear experts demonstrate what you’re trying to learn whenever it is convenient for you…and as many times as is necessary. Can it be done without YouTube? Of course. Can you build a highway using only hand tools? How much time do you have?  ;-)

Make use of this great tool to expand your horizons! It will only make you better.

Keep playing,
Mark

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YouTube for musicians: equipment setup

This is the second in a series of articles about using YouTube to accomplish your goals as a musician. Many of these goals overlap, but today, we’ll try to keep our focus to using YouTube as a reference for working with (e.g. setting up, maintaining) your equipment.

Even with the numerous demands on our time, I firmly believe that becoming a “good musician” (whatever your definition) is more attainable now than it ever has been. Many factors contribute to this, including the widespread availability of good, reasonably-priced instruments…and the wealth of knowledge available to those who want/need it. While finding it can be a problem – as can distinguishing the good from the bad, just as with the instruments themselves at times – help is available on almost any topic imaginable. One of the best sources is YouTube.

Adjusting Intonation

Adjusting Intonation

This article addresses the guitar family, but rest assured it applies to all instruments. For today, though, our fretted friends offer the perfect example.

New or used, cheap or expensive, rare is the electric guitar (or bass) that makes its way into your hands with perfect intonation. While relief and pickup adjustments can be very helpful, I would suggest that adjusting your guitar’s intonation may be the single best (free) thing you can do for your overall sound quality.

Several years ago, I bought an inexpensive guitar pack to play around with. The bundled guitar was a cheap Strat knock-off, and while my expectations weren’t high, the guitar just was never “right”. The tuner would show that every string was in tune, but when you played a chord, it didn’t quite sound that way. Since I played only acoustic/classical guitar to that point and had always taken any problems to the shop for resolution, that’s what I did this time as well.

The tech was helpful, and he took a quick stab at adjusting the intonation. Although he didn’t make any noticeable improvement, he did encourage me to give it a try myself. So back home I went…and the first thing I did was pull up YouTube. Eventually, I found the video below, and (adopting dramatic voice) it changed my life.  :-)

I sat down one evening and tinkered with the poor, cheap Stratocopy until it sounded like a real guitar. I was amazed at the difference! No, this simple procedure won’t transform a dime-store instrument into a mega-axe, but it just might make your beater a useful music-maker. The Strat that had collected dust for months (years?) now sees regular use and is a real joy to play.

After the success with the little Stratocopy, I turned my attention to my favorite bass. It had always sounded good, but with a little intonation TLC, it sounded even better. Again, rare is the gear that couldn’t benefit from a little attention! A word of warning: the more intonation adjustments you do, the better you get at doing them…and the more you crave the results.

For those Part-Time Musicians (PTMs) who don’t play guitar or bass, you (and your instrument/equipment) can still benefit from a little YouTubing. In future articles, I plan to address helpful videos for everything from woodwinds to pianos, brass to fine strings. Whatever you play, it’s very likely that something is in there for you. Finding it is the challenge.  :-)

Keep playing,
Mark

This is the first in a series of articles about using YouTube to accomplish your goals as a musician. Many of these goals overlap, but today, we’ll try to keep our focus to using YouTube as a source of inspiration.
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