It was a busy weekend: I had friends coming over on Sunday afternoon, which meant that I did grocery shopping on Saturday, so no Rock Band practice on Sunday and only an hour or so on Saturday. (I might have been able to find more time on Saturday if I hadn’t played Drop7 for the first time that day…)
So I went through most of the standard practice routine on Saturday, but that’s about it. Still, that’s enough to keep my fingers at least somewhat limber, and I’ve been doing a decent job of chord practice evenings in the middle of the week. It’s not the only busy weekend coming up, so expect more posts like this in the future.
(I didn’t play any Rock Band today, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t play games at all: Drop7 aside, I played a couple of games of Diamond Trust of London against a computer followed by three (I think) against Jorge Albor; I suspect there’s quite a bit of meat there, though I doubt I’ll play the game regularly enough to know for sure. And then Mattie Brice joined us for the Gears of War board game (with Liesl in the fourth seat); a quite solid board game, enough so that it actually got me curious to play the video game…)
Tier 2 would seem to be the tier of songs that I don’t really like very much but that probably would be good for me to add to the rotation for didactic purposes. The latter certainly makes sense, given my level; the former is, I suppose, bad luck. With that in mind:
Last week, I said I was adding London Calling and 20th Century Boy to the rotation. The former is staying in there, but when I played through the latter this week, I decided that the solo at the end was annoying in ways that I didn’t particularly want to work on. I also tried out four new songs this week, all of which I would learn something from practicing but none of which I was super excited about practicing. Right now, I’m thinking I’ll stick with I Need to Know, I Got You (I Feel Good), and Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before, but I’m not 100% sure about that; Riders on the Storm doesn’t make the cut. (Which makes the practice rotation pretty long: I spend most of an hour at the start of each session practicing the same songs. That’s fine, though, it’s good for me; in fact I should probably spend more time, focusing on the trickiest bits.)
The other event this week was that Rampant Coyote published this comparison of Rock Band 3 and Rocksmith. Most other posts I’d read strongly took the side of one game or the other; in particular, Rocksmith proponents’ negative comments about Rock Band 3 left me thinking that I didn’t expect to be aligned with their judgment about Rocksmith, since clearly we disagree about Rock Band 3. But this post spoke favorably about both games; and I am definitely seeing ways in which not listening to the guitar is causing me problems. I’m still worried that Rocksmith is not the solution in that regard, because of the audio lag that it apparently introduces with normal TV setups, but it’s only $45 these days, and I’m spending enough time on guitar that it’s worth a flyer at that price. So I’ve ordered a copy and will give it a try.
I played a decent amount of Rock Band this weekend. I finished the Tier 1 songs on the current Pro Guitar run; Get Free would be a good candidate to add to the rotation from a didactic point of view, but it’s enough not my style that I’m skipping it, and Antibodies and Du Hast are probably my two least favorite songs on the disk! The beginnings of Tier 2 are better, though—I think I’ll add both London Calling and 20th Century Boy to the rotation. (Though, if I’m remembering correctly, the hardest bit of London Calling causes the console to freeze up if I try to learn it in practice mode, so that could be interesting…) The practice list is getting pretty long now, with a fair variety of what I think of as slightly nonstandard chords in it; that seems good for me, and if that means that I spend most of my time practicing the same songs and only a little bit of time trying out new songs, I’m perfectly fine with that.
I also went through all of the songs I’d bought with a keyboard part that I hadn’t yet tried on Pro Keys. Which was mostly songs from Rock Band Blitz, though there were a few other one-offs there. Nothing too stunning to report there, though it was generally a pleasant enough experience.
I practiced guitar on both Saturday and Sunday; not hugely long practices either day, but I went through my current practice rotation both days plus a few other songs. One of which, Whip It, is getting added to the rotation: nothing too complicated, but good single notes and arpeggiation, a song I should enjoy playing but would learn from getting rock solid at. I considered adding Touch Me and Space Oddity to the rotation, too, but ultimately decided that I was on the fence about both of them in terms of what I’d learn from them and I didn’t enjoy either song nearly as much as, say, The Only Exception.
The other thing I did was sing through all of the Blitz songs in vocal harmonies. I was quite surprised to find that 24 of the 25 songs had harmonies parts (and the only exception, Give It Away, was one that fully deserves its place because it makes Blood Sugar Sex Magik complete again); and, while I was expecting the vocals to be good on those songs based on listening to them in other game modes, I was quite surprised just how fun harmonies specifically were in them. So: Blitz is a mediocre game on its own, a pretty good track pack for guitar, but it turns out to be stunningly excellent for vocalists (especially vocalists with somebody else to sing with), significantly better on average than the non-Beatles on-disc games.
Pictures from the September 2012 VGHVI Minecraft session. Which was a mellow one – Miranda was the only person doing any building, and she showed up late, so mostly we just chatted. But here’s what she was working on: she started a wood temple complex, near the earlier fire temple.
Outside the wood temple
Miranda and Roger examine the inside of the temple
More of the temple complex
Tearing up the floor in preparation for finishing it
The finished hallway floor
The finished floor of the room
Miranda doing one last inspection
A nighttime view from the roof
I didn’t play much Rock Band this weekend: we decided to watch the last six episodes of Last Exile on Sunday afternoon, and that combined with grocery shopping didn’t leave much time for guitar practice. No regrets about that, though: Last Exile is a great show, and what guitar practice I did was productive!
I went through my new normal practice songs: from Tier 0, that means Last Dance, Yoshimi, and I Wanna Be Sedated. And I was very pleased with how Last Dance went: I got a 513 note streak, only missing two chords, both near the start. (And one of them was a two-note chord, no excuse for that.) So I’m getting significantly better at barre chords: I’m going to keep the song in the rotation to consolidate those gains and to build up strength (I can make it through one playthrough no problem, obviously, but my hand is somewhat tired at the end), but that’s a huge improvement.
I’m doing less well on the other two; Yoshimi in particular I really would like to get better at. And then I moved on to Tier 1; from the previous songs, I decided to keep in Outer Space and The Only Exception, and I also went through Jerk It Out and will add it to the practice rotation as well. I definitely have room to improve in Outer Space, but it’s good solid chord practice for me to work on, and the solo is also useful practice. The other two have somewhat more idiosyncratic chords; I’m not sure the specific chords and chord transitions themselves are going to be common enough for me to need them for many other songs, but they’re all chords that I would like my hands to be able to do without thinking. Plus, Liesl and I both like singing The Only Exception, the lyrics are very sweet.