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Krist Novoselic & Jack Endino - Live Coast Community Radio Benefit Broadcast. Krist Novoselic's column runs every Tuesday on The Daily Weekly.  

Rock and


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Old Songs on a New Screen

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Krist Novoselic & Jack Endino - Live Coast Community Radio Benefit Broadcast. Krist Novoselic's column runs every Tuesday on The Daily Weekly. 

Rock and roll has been proclaimed dead countless times. After a

slump, rock usually bounces back in a wave of new bands and sounds. Things are

different today: Rock has found new life with video games, and the phenomenon

is leading to a revival of bands that have been around for a long time.

I had my first experience with a video game when I was around 10 years

old. It was called Pong. The contest was between two rectangular "paddles" that

could only slide up and down the edges of a TV screen. Between them we bounced a

small square dot--the ping pong ball--back and forth.

In high school, I jumped into the arcade game craze of the early

1980s. The game that I really enjoyed was Asteroids (and its successor,

Asteroids Deluxe). I got pretty good at piloting the little ship and blasting

the random asteroids, tiny flying saucers, and pods that threatened my

existence in outer space. (Well, the virtual space I could afford for each 25

cents I dropped in the coin slot.)

More recently, while walking through a one-stop shopping center,

I encountered the Rock Band 2 video game. It was set up on display for

customers to try.

I know about Rock Band, because Nirvana has some songs on it. I

had never tried the game before, so I gave it a go. I worked through the menu

and found the song "In Bloom." I picked up the little guitar-shaped controller

and hit the stage.

I knew the bass line to the song, of course, but I couldn't quite master this new, different way of playing it.

The game reminded me of Space Invaders. I tried to hit the notes cascading down the screen, but could barely keep up.

Meanwhile, this kid was watching me fumble with the game. I became self-conscious and took the controller off. I handed it to him, and he proceeded to jam on the song--and was really good! He had no idea that I was the musician he was emulating on the game, and I didn't tell him.

Life goes on: I walked away to buy some paint supplies, groceries, and other items from the store.

Regardless of my first experience with the game as a player, I'm loving Rock Band. Instead of file sharing, people are actually buying music again! HA!!!

Putting that issue aside, I like how the game makes the player focus on certain components of the music. When I listen to songs, I'll usually tune my ear to the bass line. With Rock Band, you can do that, but also see the procession of notes.

Music is a living thing. It's fun to revisit songs in different forms. For instance, hearing the Beatles' 2006 album Love, a mash-up of their classic tunes, is like listening to this seminal group for the first time!  Love takes the sounds and instruments that were buried in the original mix and puts them up front.

Electronica remixes can also result in a complete reinvention of a song. (By the way--can we have more electronica on the radio?)

Good music, film, paintings, books, and other forms of expression draw you into them. The excitement and power of rock fits well with the dynamic new world created by video games. The virtual universe is interactive, providing sensations that are real. Keep on rocking in the free world!!!!!!!

 
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