Innovation & Design

School of Rock


Rock Band, the Harmonix music simulation game, includes a tutorial so you can learn the tricks before you hit the stage

Just like getting the hang of a real-life instrument has a learning curve, so does rocking out on the plastic replicas used to play Rock Band, MTV Games' rock 'n' rhythm music simulation game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

The game's development crew at Harmonix recently offered us a peek backstage at Rock Band's Tutorial Mode, which covers need-to-knows for the vocals, drums and guitar roles. Each section is narrated by Harmonix employees who work on games by day and rock out in real bands at night.

Like a rock 'n' roll high school for new players, the tutorials breaks down playing each instrument into a series of lessons, from 5 to 8 in each category: Vocals, Beginner Drums, Intermediate Drums, Basic Guitar and Intermediate Guitar. Start with the basics and then get to the good stuff, like learning how to score that all-important "Big Rock Ending," where—at the end of a song—players improvise for a few second—with one caveat: Everyone in the band must hit the big end notes after the solo session for a big finish—something that generally involves a big pyrotechnic explosion.

One of the game's developers said mock rockers (aka mockers) will probably lean heavier the vocal lessons and the drums tutorial, since those will be new instruments introduced to this genre (Harmonix also created the original Guitar Hero game, which consisted of just a guitar).

Other tidbits include the ability to slow down songs to so players can get the notes just right and put songs on an infinite loop so they can just practice the song over and over until its perfect. No one ever said it was easy being a rock star.

Here's a breakout of the Tutorial Mode:

Vocal Lesson

Lesson 1: Singing Basics

Lesson 2: Talky Parts

Lesson 3: Screen Stuff

Lesson 4: Percussion Notes

Lesson 5: Overdrive

Basic Drums

Lesson 1: Sound Check

Lesson 2: One Hand

Lesson 3: Two Hands

Lesson 4: The Kick Drum

Lesson 5: Screen Stuff

Lesson 6: Big Rock Ending

Intermediate Drums

Lesson 1: Basic Beat

Lesson 2: The Hi-Hat

Lesson 3: The Snare

Lesson 4: The Kick

Lesson 5: Energy Phrases

Lesson 6: Overdrive

Basic Guitar

Lesson 1: The Guitar

Lesson 2: Making Noise

Lesson 3: Making Music

Lesson 4: Playing Songs

Lesson 5: Sustained Notes

Lesson 6: Power Chords

Lesson 7: Screen Stuff

Intermediate Guitar

Lesson 1: Consecutive Notes

Lesson 2: Energy

Lesson 3: Whammy Bar

Lesson 4: Overdrive

Lesson 5: Solo Indicator

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