March 29, 2008

Are Rock Band Drums like Real World Drums?

It’s been widely reported that playing Rock Band drums is eerily similar to playing real world drums, far more so than any other fake plastic rock instrument. Take it from Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulous:

You can take a person that’s playing on the expert levels in Rock Band on the drums and put them on a real drum set, and they can play the drums. And I watched this happen with a Q&A staff of 25-30 people. Maybe 2 or 3 of those had experience of being drummers, but they’ve been playing the game for months now, and what we’ve got is 30 drummers in the Q&A department who are pounding away in the Hard and Expert settings. These people have learned the fundamentals of drums, and this isn’t abstracting fundamentals — you can put these people on a drum set and they have some basic skills now. As a payoff for playing a video game, that’s incredible! Rock Band is going to be out there training this wave of new young drummers, and that’s a really exciting aspect of the project for us.

Kevin, who regularly gets 98 to 99 percent on expert drums in Coheed and Cambria’s “Welcome Home”, put that theory to the test in a recent epsiode of G4’s Attack of the Show. He met with Coheed and Cambria and substituted for the real drummer!

How did he do? I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

What did we learn here today, kids? Rock Band rocks — and so does Coheed and Cambria.

See for yourself!

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September 29, 2010 at 7:06 pm

I don’t know…I have an electric Drum kit and have been playing Drums for about 12 years. I got Rock Band last year for parties and although Rock Band isn’t “the real thing” (no Duh) it’s pretty darn close. Yes, the set up is very different from a real kit and there’s no sheet music but, its a heck of a blast.

I recommend it to anyone interested in at least trying the Drums before they spend 1000’s on a real kit and decide that drumming isn’t for them.

October 3, 2010 at 11:56 am

[i]For example everyone cooks at one time or another. I cook professionally im a chef but it doesn’t mean that people who don’t cook for a living can’t cook. There are people who cook better than me and they have never done it professionally or have been trained.[/i]

Great comment. A “Rock Band drummer” will never have the well-rounded playing style of a professional drummer, but you do get many of the basic technique and ideas.

If someone PURELY rely on Rock Band the game and do no other research such as proper technique, fills, etc (highly unlikely if you enjoy and invest a fair amount of hours into RB drumming), then they will probably end up with terrible posture, technique, etc, even if they can FC tough RB-Expert-level songs.

It’s similar to someone who buys a Drum Kit and jumps into it without research. A person who bothers to read up and practice the correct techniques and incorporates it into his RB playing can turn out to be a semi-decent drum player, even if he’ll never be world-class.

June 6, 2011 at 3:47 am

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July 28, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Um no. If you play Rock Band drums on Expert well, you have a leg up on someone who’s never played but there’s so much of a difference on a real set. For example:

1) Dynamics. In real life, it matters how hard you hit the drums. If you hit the hi-hat really hard, but the kick or drum is soft, you may play all the notes correctly, but it’s not going to sound the way it should.

2) There’s no using your left foot to open and close the hit-hat. Another really important skill that you’ll never learn in Rock Band.

3) Moving around the set. Hitting across 4 surfaces that are right next to each other is much different than actually having to do a fill from snare to tom-tom to floor tom and back to a crash, for example. Even if you play pro drums, it’s not that close either. Also, it doesn’t really matter where on the surface you strike, as long as you’re not way out on the edge, you get the same result. Not true in real life. Go hit a snare drum right in the middle and then more towards the edge (but still on the head) and you’ll see a big difference in sound.

4) Timing. On RB, you can hit a stream of notes out of time and many times still get credit for it. For example, take “Tom Sawyer”. I’ve noticed that in the beginning section with the 16th notes on hi-hat that I can vary the tempo and still hit all the notes even though my audible strikes are way out of time.

5) Playing from memory. It’s much easier to play a song when you have the notes streaming in front of you. Many times, at that point, you’re not drumming, but just using hand-eye coordination to hit notes. For example, think about how hard it would be for most Expert drummers who get Gold Stars on everything to even 5 star those same songs without a note chart.

So yeah, playing RB drums gives you somewhat of an advantage in some ways, but it’s foolish to say that you can go from being even a great expert player with no RL experience and play the drums at anywhere near the same level.

November 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

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