Angry Robot

My Musical Revolution

Now, when I discovered that I couldn’t stop playing Thunderhorse on the fakey coloured button controller of goodness for Guitar Hero II, I actually attempted to pick up a real guitar to try and learn it. I borrowed a friend’s electric guitar and amp and plugged in to see just how weird it would feel. Oh I’ve done it before. Throughout the years I’ve tried every once and a while to play the sounds in my head through the means of wood strung with metal cords. Alas, it never quite works out the way I want it to. I have in my mind’s eye the way I wish my hand would work and the patience I wish I had to learn all the cords and understand the complex nature of music making…but I just can’t emulate that in real life. Enter music emulation games and BAM dream come true!

Jam Sessions takes the ease of play Guitar Hero introduced me to and then added in this wonderful world of creating your own music through touch and recording it back. I just got it yesterday and I’ve been fiddling with it ever since. It comes with a few tracks but I’m always in Free Play mode myself. You can find a run down of the game mechanics somewhere else. I want to talk about how it opens up the inner musician.

The ride on transit to work has been bawls for me since I moved away from the subway line and had to start relying on the streetcar. I dislike streetcars. They’re jam packed, hot, stuffy and just plain bawls to spend any length of time on. So it helps to play something on your cell or PSP or DS to pass the time. I haven’t had anything that passes time for me as quickly as Bejeweled but today I decided I wanted to do some Free Play mode on Jam Sessions.

I was so lost in my own world that I almost missed my stop! And then from the walk up the street to work I was just strumming along the first few notes of a song I was making up. I didn’t know if I was playing A, G, D, or whatever because I was just going by the sound of the button I pressed not the name of the cord I was playing. Very kinetic which works well for me. I was looking ahead, eyes up and I must have looked so odd walking along holding a DS in front of me and obviously playing something with the stylus but I wasn’t looking at it. It’s a far cry from this (the guy in the red is on the back of the box for the North American packaging) but still, it’s weird that I walked a few blocks playing a game I wasn’t even looking at. Even now I keep reaching for my DS to play a few minutes worth of sound that captures the way I’m feeling. Like I said, wee bit addictive…

I’ve never believed I could make music. I can’t do it the analog way or the digital way. Not with all those programs and garage bandy things and stuff like that. Jam Sessions let’s me play with music, not make music. At least, that’s how my brain is accepting it and that makes it easier for me to digest. Daragh and I disagree about my ability to sit down and learn the guitar for realsies. He thinks I can do it if I put my mind to it. I’ve tried that before and I don’t want to do it. Jam Sessions, now that I can do.

In short, I’m going to be playing this for the next little bit, I can feel it in my gaming bones. I’m going to try and do a version of Thunderhorse, which I’ll share if and when I achieve it. Until then you should pick it up and try it for yourself even if you already play the real guitar. It’s easy to learn and sounds great with loads of options for sound effects and lots to tweak. On that note…I’m off to play!

One comment on "My Musical Revolution"

  1. D says:

    The nascent field of music games is bringing to light some interesting parallels between music and games.

    I don’t want to come across as one of those snobs who says “why don’t you play a real guitar,” but there is a reason why it’s called playing music. It’s actually fun. So those of us who do make the music can’t help but feel you are drawing the wrong conclusions if you think there is a huge, impassable chasm between Jam Sessions and making music. Sounds to me like you’re already making music. I mean, sure learning guitar is hard but it’s not like you have to be Steve Vai to join a punk band and bash out some power chords, right? Especially with all these computers the kids have nowadays, it’s never been easier to play music. Just think of strumming while changing chords as the equivalent of aiming while running and of callouses as protection spells and you’ll be well on your way to clearing the first few levels of learning guitar.

    Not that I can play guitar. Hell, just try messing about with some lops in garageband!

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