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Can You learn To Play The Real Guitar Through Guitar Hero?

Sep 3, 2008
In North Carolina a teenager has officially dropped out of school to become a professional Guitar Hero player. Not an actual guitar player but a Guitar Hero player. In case you have been frozen in ice, or trapped in a fall out bunker or any other generic Brendan Fraser style plot for the last 50 years and you do not know what Guitar Hero is then I will endeavour to unveil the cultural phenomenon that has been sweeping the world.

Guitar Hero is a game that simulates playing the guitar by having a plastic model of a guitar as a controller. The game itself is a series of songs which are represented by what they call a Musical Staff modelled on the neck of a guitar down which fly different coloured blobs which hit a line and explode indicating that the player must hit the corresponding colour on the Fisher Price style plastic guitar. The art is to flick the strumming button at the same time as the coloured buttons are activated, in synchronisation with the coloured blobs on television.

This is all done to an array of classic guitar tracks and although I have massively oversimplified it, as it is quite difficult, that is literally all there is to do. The simplicity might go some way to explain the massive popularity of the game which has created a sub culture consisting of young and old, crossing the class boundaries and uniting want-to-be musicians in their rock and roll simulating fantasies. The burning question is, can this lead to actual guitar playing ability?

The answer is a definitive no from basically anybody who has any musical ability or knowledge, however there are some diehard guitar hero loyalists who insist that their abilities are transferrable. Looking into the concept a bit further and we can see that there are some skills that could potentially be transferrable. The act of site reading in music is similar to that when playing guitar hero, as you need to see a certain symbol and transfer it into a movement .

The art of reading ahead in music is a valuable on and this is also important when playing guitar hero however this is generally where the similarities end. What people forget is that as opposed to six coloured buttons there would need to be approximately 140 for it to naturally replicate a real guitar and in real musical sight reading, the years of theory that it took to get to that position are squeezed into a couple of hours of intensive practice on Guitar Hero.

All being said there must be something in the cultural phenomenon, even if it is just people with no musical ability living out their repressed ambitions of rock stardom. The global obsession has gone so far that there are actually professional Guitar Hero players! This is absolutely astonishing and as previously mentioned there is a young man in North Carolina that is 16 and has just quit school, with his parents consent to pursue his dream of becoming a professional Guitar Hero player. The saga continues.
About the Author
Dominic Donaldson is an expert on guitar hero and contributes to trade publications on the subject.
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