Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Playing the drums

Back in my teenage years I really wanted to be musical, but I spent the time and energy I could spare on guitar, which I turned out to be not that great at. I would study and practice and get one song, and then forget all the others. Then I'd try to get a new one, and forget the previous one. I could only remember snatches and parts of songs. I might have done better if I'd put more time to it -- even then I had too many other hobbies and interests -- but I was struggling against a lack of native talent.

While playing fake instruments in Rock Band isn't music, I think my time on the fake drums has been enough to convince me that, had I spent the time on drums back then, I might have become at least passable. Being tone-deaf and having short fingers aren't big obstacles, while having a good sense of rhythm is a definite asset. Learning to make my limbs work independently of one another is challenging but probably no more so than for other would-be drummers.

I certainly don't have the time or energy to learn real drums at this point in my life, but I can fiddle around and enjoy myself with thinking about it. Often, when I'm riding along to or from work, I'll be trying to figure out the drum part in my head, sorting out the separate rhythms of the different drums and figure out which hands would work on which, and test them by actually pretending to play -- i.e., playing "air drums". This is a good way to pass the time when you're a passenger. (I don't recommend it while driving. Every time you play the bass drum, the car leaps forward.)

Attempting that this morning convinced me of something I was already pretty sure of: the best song in the whole universe for Rock Band that isn't actually available for Rock Band is Radar Love by Golden Earring. It's not only a great song, it's a great song where if you listen carefully and deconstruct the various instruments, each one of them is doing something that's impressive and fun on its own. Everyone should go to the Rock Band website and request it.

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