Continuing our series on Rock Band, we are taking a look at the new songs Harmonix has made available for download today. If you would like to read about previously offered downloadable content, please check out our first review published last week.

We really appreciate the comments we received last week, many of which brought up an interesting point about the positive or negative impact Rock Band could have on musicians or potential musicians. Before we get into the new content, we'd like to address this.

As some people have mentioned, the guitar is very dissimilar from an actual guitar. In spite of the fact that you certainly could learn bad habits, it is hard to confuse the Rock Band guitar from anything but a glorified controller. The drums, however, are quite different. In fact, the kit is very similar to one of the first Roland electronic drum kits I played, with the obvious and frustrating exception being that you can't reposition the pads.

Teaching drummers poor technique is certainly a potential pit fall of Rock Band for those gamers who would either like to get into drums or already play. But it really isn't much worse than someone setting up one of those old Roland kits with the intention of playing along to the radio as their method of teaching themselves. In either case, those who are serious about drums will take the time to learn some proper technique.

Of course, Rock Band's short comings have forced us to pose an interesting question. What would we want from a game that could also potentially be used as a real teaching device for instruments? Answering that for guitar is difficult short of making the controller into something more like an actual instrument. But since the drums are already so close, we can easily tackle that one.

Building A Real Drum Tutor
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  • Southpaws - Friday, February 15, 2008 - link

    "Not many these days take the time to learn how to read drum music these days"

    Every now and then there's an article or a story on the news where a senior person states that kids today just ain't doing things properly like they used to do in the old days, the underlying theme always being that our society is gradually but surely degrading.

    I for one am not overly worried that Rock Band will breed a generation of musicians that don't know how to read music or play with correct technique.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    "Of course, Rock Band's short comings have forced us to pose an interesting question. What would we want from a game that could also potentially be used as a real teaching device for instruments? Answering that for guitar is difficult short of making the controller into something more like an actual instrument. But since the drums are already so close, we can easily tackle that one."

    I do not really know how you could combine a PC with a guitar as a 'proper' learning tool. Just a quick thought, maybe 'we' could borrow from remote debugging applications, and implement some form of computerized guitar that somehow networked with a desktop, with software that analyzed your playing technique ? *shrug* The idea would obviously be very complex. Drums are easy, except for perhaps cymbals as you mentioned elsewhere in your article.

    "The bottom line is that what we have today in Rock Band is a game and not a teaching tool. It certainly can get more people into music who might have stayed out of it, but there could be problems with learning poor technique and causing frustration in future musicians. Unlearning something is much harder than learning it right the first time."

    Key words 'Bad Habits'. Someone in the comments section of your last article argued against this point that I made, but it is obvious he/she never played the guitar, or other instrument well, while trying to break a bad habit . . . I never played really well myself, and I definitely attribute part of that to picking up bad habits early in my learning stage. Fingering chords, and picking technique are very easily done wrong, and once you've started, it can be a PITA to correct.
    Reply
  • EODetroit - Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - link

    One thing to point out is that this is the first Rock Band game. You can be sure that there will be a second and probably a third, and they'll certainly try to improve some things with the controllers on them. Whether they change what we want, who knows, but they'll make "improvements" of some sort in order to sell more, for sure.
    Reply
  • slashbinslashbash - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    On the subject of using these games as instrument tutors, it would be totally easy (easier than any other instrument) to have a piano-based game. It could cover classical stuff as well as pop music. There are even enough songs with keyboard/piano to do an add-in with the full band in Rock Band.

    A cheapie keyboard could be included with the game, or you could hook up any MIDI keyboard (including expensive weighted-key digital pianos) and basically cover every aspect of piano playing. I don't know why Harmonix hasn't done this yet, but I have to think that it's on the "to do" list somewhere.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    Oh . . . oops, sorry, I got completely off topic here. Music tutors for the piano/keyboard already exist on the PC. Reply
  • slashbinslashbash - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    Yes, but they're tutors, not games. There's a big difference. They all look boring and feel like work.

    Are there any piano tutors that play like Guitar Hero or Rock Band? That is:

    1) Make you play through a whole song at the right tempo, no matter what notes you miss, unless you miss so many that you 'lose' the song;
    2) Have progressive difficulty levels for the same song, so that you hear every note even when you're not playing every note, so that you can get used to the tempo and overall flow of the song without having to play every last note;
    3) Have little built-in rewards and challenges at various parts of the song;
    4) Let you compete and/or play along with another person;
    5) Look awesome while doing all of the above?
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    I would suspect that It would have to do with the instruments popularity. I am sure many people out there into music(specifically rock) have dreamed about playing guitar at one point in their life(or another). This gives those people a chance to pretend being a guitarist, whilst having a bit of fun. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    Just saw him in concert a few months back, with the reunited Police. Awesome show! I can't believe you've never heard Truth Hits Everybody before... but then I haven't heard either of the other two songs. Too bad I don't have a console so I can tackle the singing! I can wail like a banshee when called on.... ;) Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    yeah, i know ... i'm a copeland fan and i really do love the police, but i'm that lame guy that isn't familiar with as much as i should be for how much i like em.

    i went the oysterhead route and i really enjoyed his theme songs / soundtracks.

    speaking of which, the Dead Like Me theme freaking rocks. deal with it :-)
    Reply

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