Monday, August 17, 2009

While my guitar gently beeps

The New York Times magazine section Sunday featured a brilliantly insightful and interesting article on the imminent release of the Beatles catalog (well, 45 songs to start) to the phenomenally popular game, Rock Band. While the Beatles music is already well known and loved by many, aside from vinyl and CDs it has been largely inaccessible (officially) through the most modern of formats - the download. Opening the catalog to the Rock Band crowd will not only expose a new generation to the fab-four, but will allow them, and the rest of us, to explore the intricacies and nuances of the music in ways never possible through its original format.
“We’re on the precipice of a culture shift around how the mass market experiences music,” Alex Rigopulos told me recently. Rigopulos is the 39-year-old co-founder and chief executive of Harmonix Music Systems, which developed The Beatles: Rock Band and created the original Rock Band and Guitar Hero games that are its foundations. Although video games are associated more with guns than with guitars, music games are now the second-most-popular type on the market, ahead of sports and not far behind the traditional action category. The first Guitar Hero game came out in 2005. Two years later, Harmonix, now owned by MTV, introduced Rock Band. Together, Guitar Hero and Rock Band (now rival franchises owned by competing companies) have altered the way fans relate to music.

Playing music games requires an intense focus on the separate elements of a song, which leads to a greater intuitive knowledge of musical composition. “When you need to move your body in synchrony with the music in specific ways, it connects you with the music in a deeper way than when you are just listening to it,” Rigopulos went on to say. Paul McCartney said much the same thing when I spoke with him in June. “That’s what you want,” he told me. “You want people to get engaged.” McCartney sees the game as “a natural, modern extension” of what the Beatles did in the ’60s, only now people can feel as if “they possess or own the song, that they’ve been in it.”

An excellent read and I can't wait to see how this is received upon its release!


KDdidit said...

It is a Rock Band game, not a Guitar Hero game, as they're two different companies.

David Booker said...

Right you are. I'll fix that.