Rock Band Status: January 8, 2012

Jan 13 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Not a lot of Rock Band last weekend. I was thinking I should try out different picks, so I went to a local music store; after realizing that the picks cost fifty cents each, I ended up buying one of about half of the models that they had. When I got around to trying the different picks, I was kind of regretting it for a while—I guess I liked a few of them more than the pick I’d been using, but I didn’t see a huge improvement? But then I found one that I rather liked: a little thicker and more textured than I’d been using and with a similar slightly rounded tip. So: success! At some point I’d like to try significantly different guitar picks—e.g. at work there’s a triangular much thicker one that I found surprisingly interesting—but it’s definitely a start.

On Saturday evening, Liesl and I finished the songs from Lego Rock Band. Which I don’t regret buying, because the game is quite cheap these days, but on average I don’t like the songs from it nearly as much those in other games. And we went through a couple of pieces of DLC; I’ve forgotten what they were (it’s been a busy week), but they were pleasant. (And I’m way behind on DLC, I really need to catch up on listening to them to see what I want.)

And then I tried out three songs on Pro Guitar. Rehab was okay; it felt more like a bass part, and a not-all-that-interesting bass part at that, but wasn’t unpleasant. Get Up, Stand Up was not very interesting noodling around on one chord.

The third song was Take On Me. I’m used to DLC songs being harder compared to on-disc songs with the same rating, and this was no exception. Though the interesting thing was that its main difficulty was that it required me to play a barred C chord—I don’t think I’d really had to do that yet, or was even aware that that was much of a thing? There was also one annoying segment that asked me to play a bunch of muted notes slightly faster than I would have liked; I probably would have enjoyed that if the notes weren’t muted so I’d had to think about the fingers, but as is I just didn’t like it.

Ah well: it’s a piece that I bought because of the keyboard part, and ended up quite enjoying the vocals on it; it’s okay for me not to love the guitar part. And it’s given me something new to practice, which is always a bonus. So I’ll work on barred C chords offline, and then come back to the piece in a few weeks when I can hit them more reliably. (Or: fail them less completely reliably.)

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Rock Band Status: October 30, 2011

Oct 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

We were playing bridge with friends on Sunday, so I had to get in my guitar practice on Saturday; fortunately, that practice went rather well, so it was a productive weekend. I finished the last two Challenging songs on Hard Pro Guitar; Misery Business was straightforward fun, though I wish I’d done a bit better with chord transitions (dropped D tuning didn’t help), and Humanoid was a bit too metallic and showed that I need to work better at quickly sliding between chords. (And, again, that I don’t like dropped D tunings! I should try actually tuning the guitar that way at some point, to see if that helps me make peace with it.)

After that, I moved up to Nightmare, and made it through four songs there. The first song was Power of Love; I have no idea why it’s rated at that difficulty level. Though the solo did seem to be missing an unusual number of notes, I’m willing to believe that it’s significantly more difficult on Expert? And I ended up in the top 3%, which is unusual for me, so it would seem to be a song that plays to my strengths, whatever those might be. (And I did a better job hitting the chord transitions in that song than in others; it feels really good when that happens.) Oye Mi Amor and Don’t Stand So Close to Me were also quite entertaining, though I don’t have notes on what I found distinctive about them. Which is three songs; I could have sworn I played through four on that tier, but I don’t remember what the fourth was and I don’t feel like turning on the game to find out.

At any rate: six songs is a good total for the weekend; that leaves, I believe, 9 more songs on Nightmare (including one piece of DLC) and 12 on Impossible? So the end is in sight, and it’s not so crazy to think that I might even finish Hard before the end of the calendar year. And it makes me just as happy that there’s not another Rock Band game coming out this year, I’m quite confident playing through songs on Expert will take up a good chunk of next year…

Liesl and I also played through another dozen or so Lego Rock Band songs on Saturday. Mostly unimpressive, though I was surprised how much I enjoyed Ghostbusters and the Jackson 5 song. (I Want You Back, I guess it is.) What we haven’t done for a while is vocals—I had a bit of a cold and she was feeling a bit frazzled this weekend, I hope we’re up for some singing next weekend.

I’ve also been working on the 3-part Ricercar from the Musical Offering some recently. And the rust is starting to shake off: I don’t feel too bad about the first half of it, and Liesl commented that it sounds better to her, too. So nice that my fingers haven’t completely lost their abilities to play fugues, at least at a basic mechanical level; we’ll learn in a couple of weeks how good my ears are at refining the music once I have the notes under control.

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Rock Band Status: October 23, 2011

Oct 25 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I managed to practice guitar both days this weekend, but neither session was particularly long, so I only made it through four songs: Here I Go Again, Foolin’, Killing Loneliness, and Plush. Which had a lot in common: they were generally power chord heavy, but with something else in the mix (often arpeggiation on chords that were at least somewhat unusual), and with a solo that seemed manageable but that I didn’t put the time in to really learn.

Killing Loneliness pointed out that I don’t like it when songs use a dropped D tuning: I can kind of understand it in songs that are all about barred-E power chords, but that song switched between barred-E and barred-A power chords, and having to change my fingering when going between the two was a real pain. And Plush was quite difficult: I’m not used to C7m chords even when unbarred, and playing them barred meant that I had to quickly and forcefully get down my ring and pinky fingers, which I completely failed at. (And the arpeggiation in that song was quite difficult for me as well.) Definitely useful learning experiences all around.

Liesl and I also went through some songs on Sunday evening on fake guitar/bass. We did a couple of recent pieces of DLC: no surprise that Rock the Casbah was fun, but if you’re looking for Rock Band Network recommendations, we really really liked Crazy Idea by Goliath Down. I’d never heard of that band before, but a great funky sound. We also went through about a quarter of the Lego Rock Band songs: on average, I don’t like it nearly as much as the content on the main games, but there’s enough good stuff there to make it worth the $15-$20 that it costs these days to get and export the game. Swing, Swing made us both wish that game had vocal harmonies, I rather enjoyed Dreaming of You and Accidentally in Love, and I won’t complain about David Bowie or Elton John, so I’m looking forward to the remaining songs.

Two songs left on the four level difficulty, so I should be on to Nightmare next weekend; I hope we find time to do some singing then, too, since we didn’t do that at all this week. Though making it through more Lego Rock Band wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world, either.

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