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Rock Band 3 keytar… good and bad

Ok, so since being excited about the Rock Band 3 instruments, I’ve purchased the 2-octave keytar—thoughts:

  • pretty legit in a lot of ways… it has a contour-cut belly scoop, which is exactly like what you would find on a Fender Stratocaster guitar (very impressive)
  • but the keys are a bit strange (the plastic feels odd under your fingers)
  • and the velocity sensitivity is good but is easily overpowered (maxes out quickly, seems to assume a softer playing style)
  • octave up/down and sustain via plugging in a rock band kick pedal work great, and most MIDI features seem well thought out… however…
  • the touch strip/ribbon controller is pretty much useless. First off, it’s installed backwards of what it should be (up is AWAY from you, down is TOWARD you—for keytar this should be reversed), and the axis you move your finger along is not long enough to accurately control anything… It also sucks to only be able to choose modulation OR pitch, and having to hold down the overdrive button the whole time you’re trying to pitch bend is difficult and unpleasant

…so, not the most stellar thing ever, but potentially still useful for certain things. I’m also considering a couple of mods (replacing the touch strip with a wheel and replacing the overdrive momentary button with a toggle button/switch so you can just select pitch vs. mod instead of having to hold it constantly)—so we’ll see!

Rock Band 3—new MIDI-centric approach to peripherals

Check this out… the new Rock Band 3 is now emphasizing a two-way rethinking of how it designs its instruments…

It’s making all its game controllers REAL MIDI INSTRUMENTS, and its making its game playable with ANY MIDI INSTRUMENT via a pro-mode conversion box:

http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/11/rock-band-3-gets-pro-mode-real-guitar-hybrid-controller-and-k/

Look at those two new guitars—an e-Mustang designed just like the Yamaha MIDI guitars (i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbQjy20zDvg —6 switches per fret, full fretboard), and even a Rock Band 3 Squier Strat that’s a real guitar that can also play the gameboth new guitars have a standard 5-pin MIDI out!!!

I think Rock Band 3 may have just singlehandedly relaunched the new MIDI revolution.

Thoughts about worship music—“play skillfully”?

Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy”.

However, I can’t think of the last time I was in a corporate worship setting and thought “man, that [instrumentalist/singer] is showing some skill!”

Typically, when I hear anyone talking about how good someone in the band is, it goes something like, “man you should have heard [drummer] during warm-up… he can really rip it!”

Now, me personally, I love seeing musicians push themselves in live performance, showing us (as the audience) the absolute limits of their ability. And, this may just be my interpretation, but I think Psalm 33:3 seems to suggest that God enjoys this too (Him being our audience for worship).

So, why is it that we seem to never really let the musicians in worship bands “play skillfully”? Instead of pushing themselves, or showing God what they’ve got, it almost seems like we’re interpreting “skillfully” to mean “play a simple song without making any mistakes.” I personally would rather see multiple mistakes from a musician really going for it than to be bored by another “flawless” performance.

Another issue is the basic nature of corporate worship music—for all intents and purposes, the format is sing-along. Now, I don’t know about you, but usually campfire sing-alongs don’t exactly compel me to believe that the musician leading them is any good, as you typically can’t hear them much anyways…

So, is the answer that we shouldn’t dumb the music down so the audience can sing it? I don’t know about you, but as an audience member I don’t typically add to the “this sounds skillful” meter during corporate worship (“cow being strangled” might describe my more enthusiastic vocal exploits during worship), and most people I can hear singing around me are in the same boat.

So, should we just watch the band rip our faces off with their awesome talent and stay out of it? Would God be more honored by that, or do you think He likes our gigantic, ridiculously-simple sing-a-long format? Is that the “shout for joy” part? Can someone who understands why we do what we do better than I do please chime in?

Moreover, is corporate worship music just doomed to mediocrity as a format? Please share your thoughts on the Facebook thread for this post.

Another Tumblr feature I love

Another Tumblr feature I love… not every blog post has to be a full blog entry (which make me feel obligated to write a paragraph or two)… no, instead you can just blog a link or a picture or a video, and it posts it as its own separate thing with a different icon, and *optional* description/caption—how cool is that? No pressure to write a full blog entry…

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