Starting to drum

12th November 2009 – 5.58 pm

Sometimes, I feel I should live up to my promise. Although I haven't been posting many updates about drumming along in Guitar Hero 5 I am still playing, practising my favourites and pushing myself to improve in the more difficult songs. The single-song gig structure of the game, along with lacking a sense of continued progression, is discouraging me from working through career mode, so I am mostly playing a few set lists that I have created. It is good fun and good practice, but not quite as rewarding as racking up the career money and rock ranks of Guitar Hero: World Tour. But maybe I can do more than fake plastic drumming.

There was a time when I didn't only use a guitar as static art and actually played one occasionally. In fact, there was even a time when I went beyond pretending to play the guitar, even managing to squeeze a gig out as part of a covers band. Most of the band were people from the company where I work, and we all still work in the same building, which gives me the opportunity to get contact details for the tutor the drummer used. It then only takes me another month or so before I pluck up the nerve to call the tutor to ask about lessons for myself. But with that done, within a few minutes I have my first lesson booked. I may still be worthy of the 'Doctor Worm' honorific title given to me in New Eden.

Unsurprisingly, sitting in front of a full drum kit, with even some extra drums and cymbals suspended around me, is quite different from the fake plastic Guitar Hero kit. For a start, the hi-hat has a pedal that needs to be controlled, even if it mostly needs to remain depressed. Drums are placed in different positions, not restricted by a need to remain compact, yet their proximity still limited by the relative sizes required for their function. The kick pedal isn't a simple switch and has more mass to be moved, even if the extra mass is small, the bass drum itself offering more dynamicism than the single level of the game. And everything is louder, needing me to moderate my strikes more carefully.

Drumming from sheet music, and not a constant stream of drumming-by-colours indicators, also proves to be more mentally challenging than I expect. Timing needs to be kept in my mind instead of relying on the visual metronome indicating when each note should be hit, the kind tolerances of the Guitar Hero games becoming more evident. There is also no easy mode built-in to the music, it needing to be consciously added by playing a beat simply and slowly before adding the feet or increasing the tempo. But I pick up most of the simple patterns quickly enough and start to get to grips with the more difficult ones, slowly crawling through the two bar patterns until I can at least play them without too many mistakes. My months of practice with fake plastic instruments may not have fully prepared me for this, but clearly have helped, for I am drumming.

  1. 4 Responses to “Starting to drum”

  2. Music is the best! (Guitars are my thing, but I dabble in synthesizers.)

    By Jaggins on Nov 12, 2009

  3. Definitely! It's just a shame I gave music up to be a drummer instead.

    By pjharvey on Nov 14, 2009

  4. I love reading about your drumming progression and really glad you have taken to the real deal. Some point in the future we need to jam for real, and not just on the 360!

    By xbevisx on Nov 18, 2009

  5. Thanks, Bevis. I'd love to have another jam at some point, in person would be good but on-line is cool too.

    I think I'll need a lot more practice before I am useful behind a real kit, though. I have more to write about the effects of the scrolling notes.

    By pjharvey on Nov 19, 2009

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