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Guitar Hero Hacks 42

Edge Online has a short blurb mentioning a project at the University of California turning the Guitar Hero guitar into a real instrument. From the article: "For the final project of their Computer Audio course, University of California students Travis Chen and Sunny Chan have created Guitar Hero Hack, a plugin for sequencing software Max/MSP that lets players assign switchable banks of samples to each of the controller's buttons, utilizes its tilt switch as a way to clear current audio on any given track, and, the two hope, might be on its way to a fully functioning live instrument." His incredibly impressive demo video is well worth watching.
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Guitar Hero Hacks

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  • Easy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Southpaw018 ( 793465 ) * on Monday April 10, 2006 @03:51PM (#15100699) Journal
    ...don't miss the accompanying video, in which Chen, like every proficient player, makes it all look far too easy to produce a surprisingly nice tune in just seconds

    Ain't that the truth. I wish I had that much talent - if I tried that it'd just be a random sequence of sounds. Awesome proof of concept.
    • Re:Easy? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @05:15PM (#15101399)
      I wish I had that much talent - if I tried that it'd just be a random sequence of sounds.

      Hmm. I just watched the video and it pretty much is a random sequence of sounds. It's really hard to go wrong when you only have five tones to choose from for each instrument, especially when they're all in the same key. The rhythms/beats of the different tracks he was laying didn't match up at all, though. So, ummm, yeah. Still, an incredibly cool hack for the guitar hero controller though. I gotta give him tons of credit for that. And I'm sure some of the tracks he's spent more time honing sound great too.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @03:53PM (#15100715)
    a device that electrocutes the guitarist as soon as it detects the first notes of Smoke On The Water...
  • by croddy ( 659025 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @03:59PM (#15100765)
    "Sequencing software" wouldn't be my first choice for describing Max/MSP, but at any rate it's much more than that. Max/MSP is a very powerful modular synthesis environment, allowing the user to assemble very interesting and complicated instruments and processing chains using a graphic interface. Miller S. Puckette (the MSP in the name of the software) has also released a similar package called 'pd' under an open source license (or, at least, it is distributed as source code).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You're close, but I'll offer a bit more.

      Max/MSP is essentially a graphical programming environment, built primarily to coordinate interaction between a live performer and a computer. It was originally written for composers and musicians, but has since proven general enough in functionality to be used for dance, video, and other genres.

      It *can* function strictly as a sequencer or a synthesis environment, but using it that way is somewhat unusual, as its forte is interactive performance. Check out http://ww []
    • Pure Data (PD) is definitely worth checking out if you're into computer-aided performance. You can get PD for free (it runs on Windows, OSX, and Linux) at []. Another one to try if you're more into writing actual code is Supercollider. It's an object-oriented music synthesis language based on Smalltalk. I use a Windows build that I get from [], but it runs better on OSX and it interfaces with Emacs if you like on Linux.
  • MIDI is Great! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drewzhrodague ( 606182 ) <drew@zhrod a g u e . n et> on Monday April 10, 2006 @03:59PM (#15100768) Homepage Journal
    Lots of groups have adapted non-instruments into musical instruments, by hooking them up to MIDI [], a digital interface for electronic music instruments. It's quite easy, extensible, and everything electronic and musical supports it (after like '85 I guess).

    I'm not so great with a guitar, bass, drums, and definately not keyboards. MIDI sequencers (computer and embedded) let me play the notes as I want them to be played, instead of relying on my fingers to actually play the bass []. I can then focus on where I want the tune to go, rather than this solo I can't play right. Just figured I'd toss that out there. MIDI is great!
  • This kinda reminds me of the Synthaxe Drumitar [], played by Future Man of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.
    • by rbochan ( 827946 )
      The Synthaxe [], is simply a midi controller. The only difference between that and the more 'traditional' keyboard style controllers is that it's held and can be played like a guitar. Guitarist Allan Holdsworth [] was one of the early pioneers of it's use back in 1985 or so. It's all over the album Metal Fatigue [], and others.

      Like any other midi controller, you can connect it to any DSP device you want, not just drum machines, but any synthsizer that you can get a cable connected to.
      • I think where Future Man really stands out in his use of the instrument is in his very distinctive style of playing it (how many Flecktones tracks actually use some sort of a snare-as-ride effect?), and his work in creating his samples. Many of the drum sounds he uses are layered composites of many variants of a drum, and of course he occasionally throws in the entirely non-percussion sound. (The info about the samples is from talking to him -- they're a fantastically approachable band, if you go see them
  • I'm thinking, 'WTF happened? []' is about financial stuff...'

    Oh, Edge Online. Got it. First day, new eyes.

    On topic, this sounds kinda cool. What they need is a Joe Satriani endorsement. Or, maybe a David-St.-Hubbins-trying-to-be-Joe-Satriani endorsement, like a "Satch Tapes" outtake. That would be teh junk.
  • My first thought when I heard it start looping was "Frippertronics Hero". :)
  • Not to diminish what these guys have done, but this sounds like what Apple's Garage Band application does. Namely, record one track, loop it, then record a second/third/nth track on top.

    The only difference being this uses the guitar hero controller to input notes.
  • if they created a Guitar Hero for the PC. I'd die to play it, but I won't throw a cent towards Sony.
  • I sometimes used similar technique to make music in Fast Tracker 2. That application did have the possibility to use keyboard as instrument with selected samples. Later you just switch audio track(channel) and record another instrument. Very effective and quick, it was possible to make very good sounding tunes (and if needed adjust them later).
  • Isn't saying "a project at the University of California" kind of like referring to the "country of Europe"? There's like twenty-something of them.
  • Check out the presentation from the experimental gameplay workshop at GDC 2006. ml []

    Basically, we tried using banks of samples which would be keyed off of the first key the player hit. Additionally, we authored licks which fit the button presses, so that the player had complete control but everything they played would be at least somewhat musical. Likewise, the first fret you pressed determined which key you were in until you finished that lick. Add in dist

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.