[I'm learning to play the guitar by going through Rocksmith for 30 days and seeing how far that gets me. Here's backtracking to the beginning.]
In case you needed further proof of how much of a rockstar I am, I recently became the owner of a Toyota Prius. Yes, I drive a Prius now.
I know what you’re thinking. All of those things you think about Prius owners? I think those same things about Prius owners. But now, oh ho ho, I get to hear those things out loud. “Quit clogging the road!” “What, are you trying to save the planet?” “The gas savings in hybrid vehicles are drastically overstated!” And those are the things I yell at myself in the car.
So yeah, I guess I drive a Prius now.
Sometimes the science loses its sheen, and you just want to step on the gas and get some low-end torque. Now, I, what, step on the battery? Get a stealthy but octogenarian-paced acceleration from zero to 15 MPH? I’m a riot in a slow-moving parking lot.
Likewise, on a musical instrument, sometimes you just wanna blow. Well, that may be some of my old woodwind instrument terminology coming through. For a guitar, I guess sometimes you just wanna wail on the strings. Which is why I visited Rocksmith’s Guitarcade today.
The Guitarcade has 8-bit video games that are simple. At least the first few are, with the few lessons I’ve got under my belt so far. “Gonet Wailin’” sets me up as a sleepy, Hawaiian shirt-wearing bro that goes surfing on the back of a blue whale. When I strum all the strings loud, the whale’s blowhole shoots me up higher on the 2D side-scrolling screen. When I play softer or mute the strings all together, I coast back down to the whale’s back. Then it’s just a matter of playing loudly or softly enough to collect strings of bright yellow bananas on the screen. Also: avoid hitting islands, avoid hitting birds. I do okay. It’s probably a mixture of the low volume on my guitar—because I’m typically practicing after the kiddo’s gone to bed—and the fact that my guitar could use some kind (any kind) of light maintenance, at this point, that’s forces my surfer dude to only hit the ground or hit the roof. My volume control from strumming could use some nuance.
And that’s it. I got to wail on the strings a bit, mute the strings a bit, and find my way up the leaderboard. I think I hit 20,000th place nicely. Look out 19,999th place holder. I’m gunning for you.
I got bored with Gone Wailin’ quickly, though. It was a good intermission, don’t get me wrong. But the Guitarcade, at least that first game, isn’t what I’m looking for in my 30-minute sessions with Rocksmith. It’s cute that there’s are video games in here, but I didn’t buy Rocksmith to play games, really. I own a Prius. I’m dead serious about this guitar stuff, son.
So, without refreshing any lessons, I went straight back into my favorite slow jam song, “Love That’s Gone” by La Sera. I feel like that song puts a little sand in my hair and a pina colada in my hand. I don’t know if surf rock has ballads, but I think it’s a surf rock ballad. And so I riff repeated the chorus for a while, trying to master the E string’s dance between the fifth and second fret, then ringing out that open E string at the end of the phrase.
I’m still too chicken to pull of a legitimate chord in the middle of the song. That’s going to be my lesson tomorrow, I think. It has to be. I have to punch this fear of chords in the gut. It’s getting the best of me now. I see those press-down-on-multiple-strings phrases come along, and I just pick one note out of the chord to play, which is weak. It’s day six. So, tomorrow, day seven, I will sit down for the Chords 101 Lesson and grow my confidence there. It’s time to get some articulation in these fingers and stretch them out.
Not so that I can step on the gas. It's so I can truly begin to appreciate the sweet science built into this machine in my hands.