Lots of Rock Band this weekend. On Saturday, I decided to give Pro Bass a try; I jumped in on Expert, on the theory that, on the non-pro versions, Expert Bass is probably a little easier than Hard Guitar, and that proved to be the case for Pro as well. So I ended up going through all 11 of the Warmup songs, and the first 3 (I think) of the Apprentice songs.
So they were obviously easy enough that I didn’t feel compelled to play most of them multiple times (and I got a full combo on one and a 625-note streak on another), but they were fun! My ears weren’t always doing a great job of picking out the bass lines from the music; so while I was more aware than I normally am of harmonic changes, how they expressed themselves was occasionally a bit surprising. And this being Expert there were some bits requiring more dexterity than I could comfortably do: Werewolves of London had these cute little flips, and there was another song (I’ve forgotten which) that was tremolo-heavy. In general, I enjoyed playing single notes (instead of chords) without the ostentation of guitar solos, and I’m planning to continue with this for a while.
I also took a swing at a few of the Expert Pro Guitar lessons: I certainly need to improve my technique.
Saturday evening, Liesl and I went through several recent DLC songs, with her on non-Pro Bass and me first on non-Pro Guitar, later coming back on Pro Keys. And it was all great music: the Stevie Wonder DLC is absolutely one of my favorite DLC packs (I was going to say my single favorite, but on reflection London Calling clearly has that title, and there may be others that rank with Stevie Wonder), but I also enjoyed the other songs quite a bit. Specifically: “Galactic Love”, by New Nobility; “Frankenstein Teaser Trailer”, by Richard Campbell; “Welcome to the Black Parade”, by My Chemical Romance; “El Monstro”, by Dance for the Dying; “Break Me” and “Pretty Boy”, by The Irresponsibles. If you’re looking for DLC, I recommend all of those: not a dud in the bunch, some very good indeed, and I really wish “Welcome to the Black Parade” hadn’t been released before Pro Keys was available.
And today, I played my first songs on Expert Pro Guitar, which was awesome! Living In America’s main difficulty was that I found it hard to jump from an open E power chord to a seventh fret power chord: my fingers still can’t quickly hit chords quite as firmly as I’d like. Also, while I’ve been working on my alternate strumming, it’s less regular than I’d like. And the other interesting thing about that song was the different sounds that it makes: the game represented some of that difference by telling you to mute some of the chords, but my guess is that the game uses muting to represent a range of techniques. I could be wrong there, and certainly I need to spend more time experimenting with producing different sounds out of the amp. (I played through the song maybe six times, half muted and half amped.)
And I had as much fun playing The Hardest Button to Button as any other time I can remember with the game. (Which is saying something!) Nothing fancy, which combined with enough repetition to mean that I could learn the bits; but there was also enough variation to keep me on my toes. Some amount of arpeggiation; some amount of power chords; and a couple of variations on power chords, with it having you extend your finger over an extra string on one barred E power chord and having you occasionally dip over to an open E between barred A power chords.
That song, in particular, was quite a lot of fun to play while plugged in. Normally, I’m sight reading for significant chunks of most songs; but with that one, once I’d gone through it a few times and was used to the harmonic shifts in the song, I knew what to do everywhere, including bits where they switched things up. And hearing what those varied power chords sounded like was quite instructive: e.g. the sharp note that you get by extending to a fourth string gave me quite a bit of motivation to strum precisely enough so that I’d hit the bottom four strings without accidentally strumming the fifth string. Muting strings to cut off notes was also important; it’s something that I’d been doing instinctively, but I played around with it a little more consciously, including seeing how it felt different with both the right hand and the left hand.
After I’d played through it plugged in several times, I went back to playing through it muted to see if I could get a good score; I did (5 stars, 309th place on the leaderboards), but it felt very odd indeed playing without hearing my strings. Incidentally, I’m barely in the top 1% on Pro Guitar now, and finishing eighteen Pro Bass goals put me comfortably over 500 million fans.
I’m not planning to play through every song on Expert Pro Guitar; and I hope that there will be songs that I like enough to want to focus on them for quite a while. (I bought a bunch of Pro Guitar DLC upgrades yesterday, too.) But certainly today was an auspicious start to that experiment.
(Not much to report on the Musical Offering front: I played a couple of times, but in general evenings this week I wanted to spend hanging out with Zippy instead of practicing piano. I’ll get back to that, though!)