SamJJones, are you a wizard? You guessed three songs correctly!
So there's only one thing to do when someone thoroughly spoils the surprise: chart all
the songs! And then some! I'm waiting on a reply about one song, but in the meantime here is a sneak peek at seven others. Hopefully this will be a treat for drummers and keyboard players, while I work to make them all full-band, complete with vocals and harmonies.
(All download links are now in the OP.)
First up is Heart's "What about Love", from their self-titled 1985 comeback album. Drums only at the moment, keys and other parts to come. This song is this
close to needing a 2x-bass alternate, but I think the tempo is just slow enough to get away with all those beats in the outro. It certainly wears my leg out, but I am able to play it all the way through. Let me know if anyone things there is too much bass. This could very easily turn into the easiest 2x-bass song in the game!
Next is Billy Joel's "Honesty", the last of the three big hits off of 52nd Street
to get the RB3 treatment. Pro keys and drums here; no regular keys yet, just a few scattered notes to keep Magma from complaining.
I think pro-keys players will like this very
faithful chart. Only the final chord actually had to be fudged, though I also shifted one note and dropped another to avoid a two-measure range shift. Even the animations are pretty authentic. Some left-hand notes had to be shifted, but otherwise what you see is what's actually being played.
I'm tempted to bump the pro-keys difficulty up to five dots. The rhythm isn't hard, but some of the chords sure are. But, four dots is probably sufficient, unless enough people tell me otherwise.
Time for the Eagles! This isn't the late-'70s Eagles song on my agenda, but one from their self-titled first album. I noticed another author had also worked on this song, but I couldn't find a link to download his track, so I went ahead and worked on mine. I'll willingly pull this one if there are any objections.
Working on this song in particular made me realize how you have to find a balance between realism and "fun" when creating a video game. I'm pretty certain the toms are not consistently colored across the whole song. I was doing what Harmonix recommends, generally making sure to change colors when going between cymbals and toms, so that even non-pro drummers can tell when something different is played. As a result, I think I created what is my favorite drum track so far. Consistent or not, this thing is a blast to play! Hopefully the other instruments will be just as fun when I finish them. I know the vocals certainly will be.
Back to New York, with a stop in Pennsylvania along the way. Here's "Allentown" by Billy Joel.
The reference MIDI for this one was originally a collaboration between myself and Dale Aston, who MIDI enthusiasts might know as "OnNTwo". Dale did some excellent MIDI tunes back in the day, and I enjoyed working on this one with him. Actually the MIDI for "Witchy Woman" was also a collaboration between us, but we never did quite finish that one, and it was around that time that other hobbies pulled me away from sequencing. Thanks to RB3 and customs, I'm back in again!
Here's one I hope to have finished before Halloween: "Spooky" by the Atlanta Rhythm Section. This is a cover of the Classics IV song, which is no surprise given several ARS members were originally in the Classics IV!
I had a very good MIDI to work with when putting together the drum and keys tracks, but even then I'm not entirely sure they're accurate. In the original song, particularly during the guitar and keys solos at the end, there is a lot of subtle play in the cymbals. A standard MIDI file can't really capture those little nuances that effectively, but the authors definitely tried, which then made it difficult to determine exactly which cymbal is being played at a given time, and whether it's worth trying to capture that in the game chart. I decided to mix it up at least a little bit, and I think it turned out all right. Opinions and critiques welcome, of course.
The keys were another mystery. There is a lot of jazz color in the original chords, and the MIDI chart had that as well. Whether they got all those jazz bits right is anybody's guess, but I think the resulting game chart does well enough. The solo is another matter. There were definitely some notes missing in the MIDI that I could clearly hear in the original, but putting those notes back in made the solo a lot harder to play! I don't think it's impossible
to play, but it's certainly above my current skill level. I'd like to hear from other keys players on whether they think the solo is at least realistic for someone who plays for a living.
Oh, and when is a triplet not a triplet? I swear those are supposed to be quarter-note triplets at the very beginning, the very end, and in all those fills through-out, but when I actually charted them that way, they ended up very off. This just goes to show that rock and roll is indeed "sloppy" and sometimes you just have to accept, and chart, a little sloppiness, even in a game like Rock Band
that demands precision.
Finally, I have to say, ARS is woefully neglected, even within the classic rock community. They've got a lot of great songs, but you just don't hear about them anymore. This neglect is apparent even on the Internet. I actually had to put some effort into finding a decent shot of the album cover for Underdog
, and even when I found one I had to do some GIMPing to make it more presentable.
Trivia question! What is Styx's most successful song, globally? "Come Sail Away"? "Babe"? "Mr. Roboto"? Nope, it's "Boat on the River". The song didn't even chart in the U.S., Styx's homeland, but elsewhere the song reached the top five, even #1 in some countries, as it became the band's highest-selling single. More recently I heard someone suggest this song might not be the best fit for Rock Band 3
. My response? "Challenge accepted!"
Of course I give permission to anyone who wants to convert "Boat on the River" for play in Phase Shift
, Frets on Fire
or this game
And finally, a tune from another neglected Southern rock band, "Heard It in a Love Song" by the Marshall Tucker Band. So far it's only drums, and... yeah. As much as I love the song, admittedly this is one of those where the drummer takes one for the team. But even if the chart itself isn't all that exciting, the song is still fun to play along with, I think. I decided not to chart the constant opening and closing of the hi-hat, given the song is already enough of a workout thanks to its fast tempo, but if anyone thinks I should, speak up!
With this tune I finally got to use "[prc_flute_solo]" to describe a practice section!
Like I said, these will eventually be full-band tracks. I'll work on them when I can, but if anyone is interested in collaborating, drop me a line and I'll be happy to send some files along. In the meantime, hope you enjoy!