Rock Band Status: October 14, 2012

Oct 17 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

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.

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Rock Band Status: October 7, 2012

Oct 08 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

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.

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Rock Band Status: September 23, 2012

Sep 23 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Yesterday, Liesl and I went through the Blitz songs in Rock Band 3. A good collection: nothing that I was super in love with, but very few that I disliked, and in general we had fun. We went through them on guitar/bass; for a lot of the songs, it seemed like the vocals were the high point, so we’ll have to go through them again in vocal harmonies. (And I should do another sweep of songs that I haven’t played in pro keys, too.)

One bit that I hadn’t realized: the Blitz soundtrack includes two songs that were part of Rock Band 2 but that we weren’t allowed to export to Rock Band 3, namely Give It Away and Spoonman. I in particular really appreciate them for including Give It Away, because without that, it would have been impossible to play all of Blood Sugar Sex Magik in Rock Band 3, which kind of sucks. So yay to Harmonix for making that possible again.

Today I went through some pro guitar: I went through some of the tier 0 songs again and then started on my second tour through tier 1. In terms of tier 0, I think I’m going to leave I Wanna Be Sedated, Last Dance, and Yoshimi in the rotation for a while: they all have me emphasizing different core techniques that I still have significant room for improvement at, and they’re all songs I basically enjoy, so I should keep on going with them. Probably the solo for I Love Rock and Roll, too.

I wish I’d taken better notes on tier 1, because there were two or three songs in today’s selection that I also felt that I should replay, I just can’t remember what they were! And, of course, several that I was less excited about and will drop. (And one that I was unsure about: I really like The Only Exception, but that’s mostly because of singing, I don’t know yet how I feel about its guitar part. I’ll probably keep it in the mix for another week, though.) I only went through maybe six of the tier 1 songs, it wasn’t a particularly long session, so lots more exploring to come.

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Rock Band Status: September 3, 2012

Sep 03 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

It’s been a month and a half since I last posted here—I’d hit a wall on pro guitar, and while my plan was to start over when that happened, being more selective on what I played and trying to get really good at a few songs, that plan was interrupted by a vacation, two sets of guests, and a conference. But that’s all over, and this was a three day weekend, so: time to get back in the saddle!

Which, to be honest, my brain wasn’t really raring to do. That’s probably the reason why I downloaded Rock Band Blitz on Saturday and ended up spending almost seven hours on it. My basic takeaway is that it’s a quite reasonable price for a 25-song pack, but as a game I’m not impressed with it, and I don’t like the coins mechanic; I played it for maybe another hour today and I’m not sure I’ll play it again, I have a strong preference for the regular Rock Band gameplay.

On Sunday, though, I did pick up the guitar, going back to tier zero songs. Specifically, I started with The Hardest Button to Button—it’s the song that the training goals encourage you to start with, so it seemed like a good place to restart. And wow, I was a little rustier than I realized: it’s mostly slow arpeggiated power chords, with a few non-arpeggiated ones thrown in, but I made more mistakes than I would have liked. Still, after a while (an hour? two hours?) I was playing it acceptably well—I didn’t get a full combo (though it seemed like that’s plausibly in reach), but I did get gold stars, which is good enough for me. Sounded fine plugged in, too; a pleasant song to have gone through again, but it’s basic enough that I don’t think I’ll particularly return to it.

The next song that I went through was I Love Rock and Roll: I reminded myself of the basics of it yesterday and focused on the solo today. It’s a song that I like (both playing and singing) and that I think will be good for me—the power chords are straightforward, but there’s a solo that I thought was within reach, and a tremolo bit that’s good practice.

And I was pleased to find out today that yes, the solo is within reach: I managed to get 100% on it not only on practice mode but when playing through the song in game. It’s near the edge of my capabilities, and it’s again pointing out areas where I’m rusty (as well as the fact that my calluses have receded!); I plan to add that solo to my regular out-of-game practice routine. Partly because of that rust but partly because playing it unmuted pointed out areas where I should consider working on my technique: the game encourages me to play certain bits as pull-offs, but they sound lousy when I do that, which either means I should work on that bit of my technique or I should strum those notes. Definitely something to work on.

The song is, sadly, kind of frustrating to play unmuted in game, because the non-solo/tremolo bits have enough pauses in them that the game picks up false strums all the time. Though the good thing there is that I eventually figured out how to turn down the crowd noise, so at least I’m not getting booed; that makes it manageable. And when I played it muted, I did quite well: I didn’t manage gold stars, but I did get one playthrough with a 184-note streak. (And where I missed some easy notes at the start—if I’d been crisper there, maybe I would have gotten gold stars.)

So: back in the saddle, with a bunch of free weekends ahead of me. With one new addition to my practice repertoire; and I did well enough on both of this weekend’s songs that I plan to move onto new songs next weekend.

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