So You Think You Can Play Drums?
December 26, 2009 8:33 PM   Subscribe

Rock Band 2 - Spirit In The Sky - Drums - Medium: what's up with the end of Guitar Solo 1?

So Santa Claus brought Rock Band 2 for the Wii. I'm an old fart, not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm having fun whacking the "drums." And Spirit In The Sky is a juicy, easy song, right? So I can play it OK on Easy, and I turn it up to Medium. And at the end of Guitar Solo 1, I simply cannot get the drum rhythm. I can struggle through at half speed, but only because my reactions are just fast enough to hit the pads as the notes go past the line. As I speed it up, I can't figure out what it's supposed to sound like.

Any help for a rhythm-challenged old man? All the kids only seem to be interested in playing at Difficult/Insane. Maybe the Medium track is just wonky there?
posted by spacewrench to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I started playing RB drums on medium when the first one came out and eventually progressed to the point where I can sing on expert (with a mic stand) while playing the harder expert drum songs, and the only thing you can ever really tell someone about how to play the game better is "hit more notes."

Here's someone playing the part in question, which might help:

Non specific to this song, the drums are pretty realistic for a video game. Essentially, your hands are making actual drum motions, and because almost every person I've ever seen sit down behind the rock band setup can find a novel way to brake either their wrists or my game, you may need to double check your technique. Look up some tutorials on basic sticking technique on youtube and ask around on the forums to make sure you aren't screwing up your wrist and making yourself play slower then you should be. Most importantly, keep your grip loose and keep the motion all in your wrists.

This also means that actually counting out the song might help. When real musicians play, a lot of them count along in their head 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 as the song progresses so they keep time. This is generally subconscious for anyone who's been playing more then a year, but being able to count along easily is extremely useful, even on fake instruments. A tricky beat goes a little easier if you can think of it as 1_-_2_-_3_&a4_-a1 then if you just try to memorize every individual rhythm in the entire game, especially if you start to buy a lot of downloadable songs.

Mostly, just feel free to skip that song and come back to it when you're better. Maybe buy some downloadable songs from the in-game store while you train to get some variety, though if you have an xbox or PS3 in the house it might be a good idea to sell the game and buy it for that before downloading too many songs. There are certain advantages to the other consoles.
posted by sandswipe at 9:20 PM on December 26, 2009

Something else you should look into: Sync. This is especially a problem if you're using th Wii without component (HD) inputs on an HD TV. Essentially your audio and video get de-synced. This usually isn't a problem unless you're playing a game that requires split-second timing, in which case it may LOOK like you're hitting the mark, but the Wii doesn't think so!

There should be an option in the menu to adjust the audio/video lag.
posted by GilloD at 5:23 AM on December 27, 2009

Best answer: I think I know the part you're thinking of. Short answer: don't try to figure out what it sounds like.

The reason it's so tricky is that, on everything except vocals, the game drops notes at lower difficulty levels and it's often tough to tell what's being dropped, especially during a tricky change-up like that. See also the guitar solo at the end of "Alive," during which I invariably hit more notes than I should, which kills my score multiplier.

A trick I find useful during weird drum bits like the "Spirit in the Sky" one is actually to try to suspend my own natural (mostly-reliable) rhythm. I literally ignore my internal metronome and simply focus on the moment when each note passes the bar.

I do agree with sandswipe about the count for most drum situations, but not when it gets weird like that. A good example of the difference is in "Battery." Going "1-1,2-2,3-3,4-4" in your head on that song helps for the verses (since it's all off-beats) but right before the verses there's a little flourish that you can't possibly emulate by "going with your gut." (Not at Medium or Hard anyway. Never tried Battery on Expert...)
posted by AugieAugustus at 5:53 AM on December 27, 2009

playing the link is tough enough on its own. make sure your instruments are synced properly. that makes a huge difference. I have one of those OLD sony trinitrons. sync isn't an issue at my house. my brother has a 40+ inch LCD, and i swear i can tie my shoes between hitting the pad and the note sounding.
posted by Davaal at 5:56 AM on December 27, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody. I think my Sync is OK (the rest of the song is fine, just that one spot). The answer could be the game drops notes at lower difficulty levels (thanks, AA!). It almost feels like it's an odd triplet-eighth combination, except with some of both missing. Maybe TT(t)(8)8 - T(t)T88 or something. Add in that I can't really distinguish "eighth spaces" from "triplet spaces" on the screen, and I'm sunk.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!
posted by spacewrench at 8:22 AM on December 27, 2009

Is there a practice feature where you can listen to the drum part while watching the notes go by? Do that.
posted by Darth Fedor at 11:51 AM on December 27, 2009

Response by poster: After some more practicing, I think the answer is definitely the game drops notes at lower difficulty levels. I learned Cool for Cats on Medium, and there's a guitar solo section that doesn't make any sense. So I learned it on Hard, and it's a piece of cake.

Battery and friends are still way beyond me, though, on any difficulty level.
posted by spacewrench at 5:38 PM on January 12, 2010

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