“Why don’t you learn a real instrument?!”
That’s the common cry from haters when they see legions of virtual musicians giddy for the Rock Band 3 release later this year.
My response – “I already have!”
As a musician and independent producer (of many future hits, btw), it’s easy to get tangled up in music theory lingo; you get lost in chord progressions, tempos, key changes, harmonies, time signatures, syncopation, dissonance, blibbity bloobity bloo. Sometimes, in the middle of writing a piece, I want to shred up my lyric notes and sheet music, stop thinking, and just rock the f*ck out! It’s times like these when I turn to Rock Band.
Last week at the E3 gaming convention, Harmonix announced that Rock Band 3 will hit shelves in the fourth quarter this year. In the new installment, not only can you play guitar, bass, drums and sing along to 83 new songs, but they added a cymbals pack, a keyboard, the capability of having three vocalists, and not one, but TWO guitar peripherals. Giggity, giggity. Now you can have up to seven players rocking out at one time. I haven’t had 7 players on one video game at the same time since I played Halo 3 over a high speed wireless LAN connection in college on multiple HD televisions. (NOTE: The author of this article IS actually a cool guy, he just went to Engineering school) (Editor’s note: dKat’s expressions are solely his own, and they do not reflect the views and opinions of GDP Magazine.)
Now that you’ve been informed on what’s coming out in the next Rock Band series, it’s time for me to lay down the law. Whether you’re a highly trained musician with multiple degrees from Julliard or just a hard core gamer: ROCK BAND IS COOL!
“But dKat, being that you’re a real musician and the producer of many future number one singles, isn’t Rock Band just a mockery of what you’re doing in real life?”
Nope! Rock Band is simply a video game, key word being ‘game.’ Would it be fair to tell a Call of Duty fanatic, “Hey dude, stop playing a game and just learn to shoot real people!”—I didn’t think so. So why hate on Rock Banders? Ok, ok, like the picture above, maybe it looks corny or somewhat cult-ish to have seven people staring at the same screen at the same time like it’s the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 in the World Series. And maybe it’s even worse when you walk into that room with the seven people staring at a screen and you simply say “Hey what’s up?” only to be ignored by all of your so-called friends.
But when playing the game with the music blasting at a deafening volume after having a couple brewskis with some of your best buds, you really do feel like you’re on stage with thousands of fans rooting for you. Nothing is more gratifying than when your collective focus, intensity, and rhythm culminates in the ultimate musical feat – a 5-star rating. Sure, it’s not as cool as the adrenaline rush real rock stars probably get when they kick ass on stage. But that’s not the point; like I said, it’s a GAME. It’s the equivalent of pwning (yes, I went there and said ‘pwning’) another team in an online Halo match, or finishing the domination of territory in Starcraft. Each ends with the same thing: once the game is over and you win, you go around to all your friends and perform your respective secret handshakes with everyone, talk about how much fun that was, and you move on.
But wait. Like an M. Night Shymalymalymamalyman movie, there’s a twist!
With the new Rock Band 3 controllers, it’s likely that gamers will gain some skills that can translate to ACTUALLY PLAYING REAL INSTRUMENTS. Seriously, it’s true. The keyboard controller looks and feels like the real thing; it even has touch sensitivity, meaning the harder you hit the key, the louder the note is.
Two new versions of the guitar controller will be released: one version is upgraded from its original 5 button format to a
6 button 102 button Instrument…yes that’s what I said, 102 buttons. The buttons are lined up in a 6 column by 17 row grid, where the columns represent the strings and the rows represent the frets. Thus, it’s set up like a real guitar. The other option is an actual electric guitar made by Squier that can be used for both game play and real life shredding when plugged into an amplifier (though most shredders wouldn’t prefer to use a Squier at all). Also, both versions of the new guitar will require players to have “pick-to-string” coordination.
Obviously one won’t accomplish much musically by playing on ‘Easy’ mode, since we all know that playing on that difficulty level is more boring than listening to this guy’s phone conversation in the stall next to me (which is very rude on his part by the way). But if a gamer plays on Expert or even Hard, he/she will definitely learn how to play some actual tunes on real-life guitars and keyboards. So take THAT—all you people who preach to learn a real instrument. With Rock Band 3, now you can.
Ok, Ok…so there’s no true musicality, or sheet music reading, or even theory being learned. But c’mon, does everyone really want to learn that? Picture you’re at a poppin’ dorm room party and someone has an acoustic lying around, and you secretly picked up RB3 along with the Squier guitar and can now strum the chords to a few hit songs. What will ‘wow’ your friends (and the ladies) more, playing a slick riff from Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” or saying “hey everyone look at me play this D chromatic scale in 6th position and ending on a diatonic Dm7 chord!”—obviously the former is cooler than the latter since no one will know what you’re talking about. Who do you think you are, Beethoven?
So, using the Budweiser voice with the uplifting music in the background, I salute YOU—the lead guitarist of a Rock Band band with a name that consists of most likely words associated with a male extremity or a dirty inside joke that no one will get, since you stick to your roots and do what you were born to do, rock out with your socks out!
Stay classy San Diego, I’m out.