Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Inner Guitar Hero

So, I used to be one of those "musician-types" who scoffed at those that took Guitar Hero and Rock Band seriously. I mean, I thought, cute - if you want to pretend to play instruments and be in a band, fine; it's just not for me. The music is good, and it's fun at a party. But I had people actually tell me, "oh, my boy Timmy is so awesome at Guitar Hero, that we're going to get him guitar lessons!" Um...well, that's not always going to be a direct translation from one to the other. Guitars have frets and strings, need to be tuned, are bigger than guitar controllers, the list goes on.

Nine times out of ten "Timmy" gave up quickly, especially when they realized how much time away from Guitar Hero guitar practice was taking...

Still, I like to sing, so I got Rock Band to be the singer. The singing part on that game, while not displayed exactly as typical music notation, is actually quite a good visual of pitch, and gives you a pretty good idea of whether you're on pitch or not. So I'd say Rock Band can help you train as a singer, at least where pitch is concerned.

I decided if I was going to make the most of my Rock Band game, I'd better try the drums and guitars. I'm happy to report that the drums, while definitely not set up like a "regulation" kit, do a great job with rhythm and timing. I'd definitely recommend parents start their kid out with Rock Band drumming and see if they take to it before investing a full-blown drum kit, and the headaches that accompany a beginning budding drummer.

Finally, I picked up the guitar controller and tried my hand. Having played the actual guitar, I thought it would be a breeze. What's pushing little buttons down compared with the agony of developing callouses on my left-hand fingers? Well, certainly there's very little callous-building happening in Rock Band and Guitar Hero. It doesn't help you read tablature or understand chords. It doesn't help you find out what notes are on what strings, where. No barre chords. No hammer-ons or pull-offs. But, not unlike the drums, I find that those games help me a lot with rhythms.

The little "fret lines" that slide down the screen toward you as you play are actually set at eighth-note intervals. I've seen some pretty complex rhythms coming down, even on the easy levels. Some fast transitions. Some combinations that work better with up-and-down strokes rather than just down. And even though you're never really playing along with the lead guitar on the music track, if you listen well, you can really tell how the rhythms fit in with the guitar lines in the track.

Oh, and there's a whammy bar!!

So now, I'm a convert. I say, "Let them play Guitar Hero!" kids of today can be exposed to some amazingly legendary classic rock while we "older folks" can learn to appreciate the music of today. It's always good for the generations to understand one another. And, if you learn a little about music in the meanwhile, all the better for society as a whole.

Just remember - it's a game - have fun! And if you do find that you're musically inclined, don't be afraid to try out the "real thing."

1 comment:

Food Czar said...

I love Rock Band and Sing Star because I finally found out that I can sing!!!
Am I any good? Welll......