Tag Archives: Reich

The other side of Guitar Hero

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I wrote last week lamenting how Guitar Hero provides a quick fix that discourages people from actually learning how to play an instrument (although as several friends have pointed out, the new Rock Band 3 that is scheduled to ship this winter includes a real Fender guitar and pro mode that matches ALL the real notes!)

On the other hand, it certainly exposes a generation to music that they may never have paid attention to otherwise, and in such an interactive and engaging way that it actually becomes their music. I’m thrilled that my younger cousins have been exposed to the staples of my college experience Jane’s Addiction, Nirvana, and Nine Inch Nails, as well as the staples of my high school experience The Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones.

But that’s only part of my youth.  What about the rest of my high school experience, The Stravinsky, The Bartok, and The Schoenberg?

While I don’t expect to see a Guitar Hero version of Bartok’s String Quartets or Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex any time soon, why not a Guitar Hero version of Reich’s Electric Counterpoint?

It turns out that the new music supergroup Bang On A Can felt similarly.  As covered on Amanda Ameer’s blog Life’s A Pitch, there are now three Rock Band tracks available so you can play along with the polyrhythmic minimalist supergroup and become a Modern Music Hero.

Yo Shakespere – Michael Gordon

Shadowbang – Evan Ziporyn

Pretty catch stuff,. If only it was notated so you could keep track of the downbeat it would be a lot easier to play. This scrolling note thing is just a pain in the butt.

The mechanism of Rock Band seems to lend itself well to minimalism. Serial work may not be quite as effective. You can only generate so much material out of five-tone rows…

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On the virtues of being baked

Two weeks ago I swung by the free Hot Air Music Festival at the SF Conservatory.  It was an all day affair with dozens of pieces from composers who, save for four, all shared a trait that almost guarantees that they’ll be largely unknown and unheard, specifically, they’re alive. I was only able to attendContinue Reading

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