220: Anyone Can Play Guitar

Anyone Can Play Guitar

Guitar Hero and Rock Band may have ended up in living rooms across the globe, but they started out in a lab at MIT. Ronald Meeus interviews Professor Tod Machover about how his technology, the Hyperinstrument, and his tutelage of Harmonix's founders helped lead to a new way to appreciate music.

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Interesting background for the music giants of the video game industry. I never thought that Rock Band was something the creators stumbled upon through luck, but I had no idea of just how much effort and research was put into the project. Good to see that Machover and his students are seeing the fruits (and large sums of cash) of their labor...

Ronald Meeus:
...they're looking at Microsoft's Project Natal motion camera technology for Rock Band 3 as a way to give players even more ways to convey musical intentions in a videogame. But Machover recalls that Egozy invented something way better himself nearly 15 years ago. By sheer coincidence, he stumbled upon a technology that could detect simple gestures from the amount of electricity that a human body absorbs.

So...are future installations going to deliver an electric shock?

I mean...maybe if they are configuring it such that the shocks are in minute/unnoticable packets...but still, you better hope the controllers your sending out have a 0% defect rate. If not, your gonna have a lawsuit on your hands...(unless every game ships with a waiver...)

Nice

I hate those little coloured domes. They've wasted half my life.

Anyway, I never knew so much technology was involved in creating the guitar, but I don't thionk that the next setp is a good idea. The controller doesn't feel very realistic anyway, what with it being so small, lightweight and plastic, but removing it altogether would make the game harder tenfold (how would you know where to press?), and make the realism even less than it already is, no reassuring equipment to hold in your hands.

So I don't think they should ever ditch the guitar - it would make for a much stranger gaming experience. However, removing the buttons and replacing them with coloured squares, added to the new technology, would make the game run smoother - I can't tell you how many times those little coloured domes have evaded me because I hadn't pressed the button down, only gone over it.

Finally, it would make for a little innovation - if nothing like this happens, we'll be repeating the sme game, over and over, until it gets to a point where all new games would be pointless, because of an online store where you can buy anything.

hansari:

Ronald Meeus:
...they're looking at Microsoft's Project Natal motion camera technology for Rock Band 3 as a way to give players even more ways to convey musical intentions in a videogame. But Machover recalls that Egozy invented something way better himself nearly 15 years ago. By sheer coincidence, he stumbled upon a technology that could detect simple gestures from the amount of electricity that a human body absorbs.

So...are future installations going to deliver an electric shock?

I mean...maybe if they are configuring it such that the shocks are in minute/unnoticable packets...but still, you better hope the controllers your sending out have a 0% defect rate.

Much better than that! In the upcoming Rolling Stones Rock Band, you can actually feel what it's like to be Keith Richards on stage in 1965!

http://www.nme.com/news/keith-richards/21795:
Capturing the moment during the Sacramento gig in colourful detail, the film shows Richards hitting the stage floor after his guitar strings accidentally came into contact with an underground microphone.

If he weren't indestructible, that mic shock could have candlejacked him

edit: forgot to mention
This article is fan-fucking-tastic! Huge kudos, Mr. Meeus!

re-edit: So now I suppose we start calling them 'seeds' instead of dots/domes, and the toy plastic guitar is now called a 'hyperinstrument'. I'm all for turning it into a science project rather than a kid's game.

So where does Guitar Freaks fit in this timeline?

So the idea began with creating the tools by which an unskilled musician could compose and play professionally, and ended in a colored-button-pantomime?

I guess by those standards a hot-dog eating competition is the cure to world hunger.

I can see what you mean, how feeling like you are playing a song is fun, but i'm irked by the fact that they think they're hot shitte because they can play something on guitar hero. tell me kiddies, which one gets you laid? a small piece of plastic with 5 frets, or the real deal?

Rawker:
I can see what you mean, how feeling like you are playing a song is fun, but i'm irked by the fact that they think they're hot shitte because they can play something on guitar hero. tell me kiddies, which one gets you laid? a small piece of plastic with 5 frets, or the real deal?

i've tried both, neither works. no amount of science (and only gratuitous amounts of art) will ever equate to instant sex appeal

Rawker:
I can see what you mean, how feeling like you are playing a song is fun, but i'm irked by the fact that they think they're hot shitte because they can play something on guitar hero. tell me kiddies, which one gets you laid? a small piece of plastic with 5 frets, or the real deal?

Gonna go with half of 175 mil and a degree from MIT, coupled with the line 'I was part of the team that designed the Global hit Guitar Hero. And that's what I do for a living.' Money, smarts, and success. Who doesn't want that?

Nice background research on the world's new form of crack, Mr Meeus. It's really cool to hear about things like that from time to time (and the massive amounts of respect that it earns them as coincidence)

Rawker:
I can see what you mean, how feeling like you are playing a song is fun, but i'm irked by the fact that they think they're hot shitte because they can play something on guitar hero. tell me kiddies, which one gets you laid? a small piece of plastic with 5 frets, or the real deal?

I could get laid just by going to a brothel. Getting laid isn't a very impressive achievement.

I thought Guitar Hero was just based on Milton Bradley's "Simon Says".

SirBryghtside:
Anyway, I never knew so much technology was involved in creating the guitar, but I don't thionk that the next setp is a good idea. The controller doesn't feel very realistic anyway, what with it being so small, lightweight and plastic, but removing it altogether would make the game harder tenfold (how would you know where to press?), and make the realism even less than it already is, no reassuring equipment to hold in your hands.

So I don't think they should ever ditch the guitar - it would make for a much stranger gaming experience. However, removing the buttons and replacing them with coloured squares, added to the new technology, would make the game run smoother - I can't tell you how many times those little coloured domes have evaded me because I hadn't pressed the button down, only gone over it.

Finally, it would make for a little innovation - if nothing like this happens, we'll be repeating the sme game, over and over, until it gets to a point where all new games would be pointless, because of an online store where you can buy anything.

I agree that removing the buttons would make the game either extremely hard or ridiculously repetitive. If any true innovations on a guitar peripheral item is going to come, I would want to see a true variation on the guitar involving the six strings to further the idea of what a person can learn from a game and carry over to another instrument. Currently, the drums are the most realistic instrument in terms of what would be easiest to learn off of and carry over to the actual instrument.

I would have no clue how they would incorporate the idea of six strings on a guitar, but there was the seemingly now dead game "Guitar Rising" which was meant for use of a real guitar interpreted into the notes on the screen. Meant to teach and better guitar players. I personally looked forward to the game, but it's announcement was long ago and nothing new has come from the team working on the game since. It was hoped to be released this year, so I have hope still.

While I would not mind this idea, I do not see it happening as it would hinder the sales quite a lot as most would be discouraged in playing. It appeals to most people who can't play an instrument and can easily play the game. So I don't see any true innovations with instruments changing anytime soon. Why would you change something that has been tried and true, and has sold quite well?

Rock Band itself has seated in working towards making it another way to spread music with the Rock Band Network, and ultimately would further it's usage. Making a major change to the game now would split the user base.

The problem with the whole premise of enjoying music on a new level by playing it in a game is that even though the actions ar similar, playing a guitar hero gmae is so far removed from playing actual music. It reminds me of a 'cargo cult': it looks the same, but itls completely different, with none of the substance that the originator of the object has.

A guitar hero controller has 5 buttons, a strum bar, and a pitch modulator (in a way). A standard octave has 13 seperate notes (A-G, plush sharps/flats). That means all the songs have to be pre-designed. Over the course of a song, one button will represent a dozen notes, often octaves apart.

The idea that playing guitar hero will somehow make you better at music is just wrong. I've tried to teach basic piano to young children who can five star knights of cydonia on hard, but somehow can't grasp the notion that one key=one note on a keyboard. It's quite frankly depressing to see them with their hands firmly planted on five adjacent keys, banging them and expecting them to make the noises they need to make.

The drum kit is a different story, rhythm is rhythm wether it's for real or in a game, but there's still the issue of kids trying to coax five different sounds out of a single hat...

Russian Redneck:

Rawker:
I can see what you mean, how feeling like you are playing a song is fun, but i'm irked by the fact that they think they're hot shitte because they can play something on guitar hero. tell me kiddies, which one gets you laid? a small piece of plastic with 5 frets, or the real deal?

I could get laid just by going to a brothel. Getting laid isn't a very impressive achievement.

its better signifies not being a super nerd.

Fun fact:
I bought a guitar for about 1/2 the price of guitar hero/rock band. 2 years later I can play all kinds of stuff I'd never dreamed I'd be able to play. Playing it for "real" is about 30x more fun than pretending and wishing I could play it for real.

It's interesting that they call guitar a primitive device. While I can see how that's true, I can't really say I like the idea of all music being written by computer-generated sounds. There's something about an actual human manually making the sounds of a song that simply cannot be reproduced.

The main issue I have with these games is how they put musicians on such massive pedestals. Making them seem so out-of-reach of the novice/amateur musician wishing to start learning.

Guitar has become some exotic "crazy difficult" thing to do.

Falru:

The main issue I have with these games is how they put musicians on such massive pedestals. Making them seem so out-of-reach of the novice/amateur musician wishing to start learning.

Guitar has become some exotic "crazy difficult" thing to do.

Uh, Pop Music has been doing that for the past 60 years. You think the Beatles are on a pedestal because they have a Rock Band game themed after them?

Addendum:
I suppose I should expand on what I said; the guitar has always been a "crazy difficult" instrument for the novice/amateur/layperson. Especially when you can listen to guitar virtuosos like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, etc. Just look at the Rolling Stone Magazine 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time (link). These are people who found the guitar as an extension of themselves.

Do you know how fucking LONG it would take me to learn, practice, practice, practice, practice, and practice until I could even hold a candle to any of them? I would have to give up everything: work, school, sleeping, eating, everything and spend all my time playing a guitar for about five years, soak blood into the neck and fretboard until my finger pads have callouses as think as nickels, and play the wrong notes until my ears bleed.

It takes a LOT of work to get good at playing a real guitar.

I don't have that kind of time in my life.

I can 5-star a song on medium after playing through it a few times.

But seriously, that's comparing apples to grapefruit. This argumentWHARRGARBL has been going on ever since the first Guitar Hero became popular. and it's always the "real guitar" players who are disparaging the people who have fun while playing guitar hero. I don't give a fuck that I'm not playing a real guitar, I'm NOT TRYING TO.

You can play the guitar, good for you!

Keep your fucking value judgments to your fucking self and let us enjoy playing a game where we mimic playing an instrument because we're too busy to learn the real thing.

I have never seen any dance choreographers pissing and moaning about how DDR is ruining dancing. Do you thin, maybe it's because they understand that DDR is just a game?

Maybe you should take some time and think about how Guitar Hero and Rock Band are just games, too? Maybe you shouldn't try to tell me how to better spend my time and money? Because I couldn't care less about what you think I should be doing with my resources.

I play rock band/guitar hero as well...

Did I ever say "OMG I HATE HOW THESE GAMES LET PEOPLE HAVE FUN!!! THEY R RUININ THE MUSIC COMMUNITY!!"

Go ahead, enjoy it, have fun. If you don't want to learn to play a real (I mean that in an entirely literally sense, no sarcasm here) instrument then that's fine. We don't all go outside and learn how to shoot real guns after playing Gears of War right? (right? right...)

Guitar is more than possible for anyone to learn, Rock Band/Guitar Hero do a good job of hiding that fact in my honest opinion. I don't hate the games themselves, I just hate the mindset of "Whoa that song was fun!" "You should learn to play it on a guitar!" "WHOA! There's no WAY I could do that!!" that exudes from almost everyone I talk to that plays it.

You know what they say about assuming...

And by the way, apples taste good, grapefruits don't.

 

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