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Author Topic: Rock Band 3 Pro Keys  (Read 2609 times)
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Pyperkub
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« on: November 05, 2010, 10:22:32 PM »

Hi all - I wanted to get a topic on Pro Keys only, to pull together what people have learned, and what's been fun.

One thing I had to do a little research on was hand placement, and I found that the keyboard and Pro Keys has been designed for one-handed (right) use only, while the left is reserved for the modulator and the Star Power button.

As of today, I've only been through the basic training - the first section, and the scales section.  I've also probably played about 20 songs with Pro Keys on easy  (I haven't taken Piano lessons in over 30 years).  One nice thing about playing keys, is that I can play from the recliner, I have to be standing for guitar/bass, and using a different chair for drums.
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Devil
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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2010, 12:49:00 AM »

I hate that the whole keyboard isn't shown on the screen.

That's all for now.  icon_biggrin
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Pyperkub
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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2010, 02:00:26 AM »

One other thing that I found funny -I was doing the scales training and for some reason the game has your band members strolling around and I kept getting distracted by the girl on the fishnet stockings catching my peripheral vision...
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raydude
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2010, 03:14:21 AM »

Quote from: Pyperkub on November 06, 2010, 02:00:26 AM

One other thing that I found funny -I was doing the scales training and for some reason the game has your band members strolling around and I kept getting distracted by the girl on the fishnet stockings catching my peripheral vision...

Hehe, same thing happens to me. One of my band stand-ins is a blonde wearing a leather skirt that ends just above the knee line. When playing songs she's normally the guitarist when I choose another character and play the keyboards. Yet when doing scales she's always in the background bending over and checking the bass drum.
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2010, 03:15:58 AM »

Something that I remember from back when I was taking piano lessons. I can't sight read chords in real-time. Couldn't do it from sheet music and I can't do it now. Looks like its back to practicing sections of music over and over again and trusting to good old muscle memory.
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Larraque
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2010, 03:59:29 AM »

Been doing almost nothing every evening for the past week and a half but doing pro keys. Went from barely being able to handle easy to being almost done with medium (a couple songs I can't do like Saturday Night's all right for Fighting) and part way through hard keys (third tier of songs now; also got a few gold stars on expert on a few of the super easy songs). Starting to get bored and wanting more songs though.

It is made for one hand and aside from a few chords I do fight through and use only one hand. The fast chord changes on some of the impossible songs really do require two hands for me right now to handle.

Ah well. It's all about practice, practice and a little bit more practice.
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EddieA
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2010, 07:14:17 AM »

Would you guys say this is a good way to learn to play keyboard/piano?  I already have a keyboard, and I'd like to learn to play it, so I'm considering getting the midi adapter when it's available.
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Clanwolfer
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2010, 11:30:40 PM »

I'm absolutely loving Pro Keys - I've dabbled in a bit of guitar, bass, and regular keys, but just tonight I managed to finish out the full playlist of all the RB3 songs so far (plus the free Doors DLC and Subdivisions) on at least Easy.

I've also spent some significant time in the 'trainer' mode doing scales and chords, got through the easy and medium lessons - I've actually found the absolute most helpful thing to be doing those over and over (what, you mean practice actually helps?). Make sure you read the instructions for each one - I started out doing some of them 'wrong' and found out that doing them right, even if it's harder (crossing thumb, moving hands at awkward times, etc) really does help.

The warmup songs on Medium so far have tested the absolute limit of my ability to sight-read - I'm thinking that when I move up to the next tier of songs, I'm going to have to start practicing/learning individual parts.

A big part of getting comfortable, for me, has just been figuring out where my hand is on the keyboard without looking - I played for several hours today and was much more comfortable, so I think it's just a matter of doing it over and over.
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Sparhawk
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« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2010, 02:37:48 PM »

Quote from: EddieA on November 06, 2010, 07:14:17 AM

Would you guys say this is a good way to learn to play keyboard/piano?  I already have a keyboard, and I'd like to learn to play it, so I'm considering getting the midi adapter when it's available.

yes and no. Without proper training in both hands it's useless. But it will teach you some basics and improve your dexterity but you have to remember the piano is played with two hands and two feet. Just because you get really good at pro keys in RB3 that doesn't mean it'll translate over to the real thing.  Matter of fact you'll probably sound downright horrible. (Also keep in mind that you're also not practicing the timbre for each individual note, you're just mashing chords and notes with no thought into how those notes should sound.)
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TiLT
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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2010, 02:54:21 PM »

On the other hand, if you're just looking to get good at using keyboards/synthesizers, this should be good enough. If you're used to using both hands and your feet, that can often be a handicap when trying to use complex synth instruments.
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wonderpug
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« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2010, 03:01:07 PM »

Quote from: Sparhawk on November 07, 2010, 02:37:48 PM

Quote from: EddieA on November 06, 2010, 07:14:17 AM

Would you guys say this is a good way to learn to play keyboard/piano?  I already have a keyboard, and I'd like to learn to play it, so I'm considering getting the midi adapter when it's available.

yes and no. Without proper training in both hands it's useless. But it will teach you some basics and improve your dexterity but you have to remember the piano is played with two hands and two feet. Just because you get really good at pro keys in RB3 that doesn't mean it'll translate over to the real thing.  Matter of fact you'll probably sound downright horrible. (Also keep in mind that you're also not practicing the timbre for each individual note, you're just mashing chords and notes with no thought into how those notes should sound.)

I also think that the disconnect between RB/GH note lanes and sheet music is a bigger obstacle with piano than it is with guitar.  Learning guitar, you can go very far just learning chord shapes, reading tablature, and just figuring things out.  With piano I think you really need the sheet music to pick up anything but the simplest of songs.
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Clanwolfer
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« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2010, 04:11:18 PM »

I would think (DISCLAIMER: I don't play any instruments and have never had any musical training, so take this for the very little it's worth) that you could pretty much determine the extent of the learning by listening to the MIDI output of someone playing the Expert keyboard tracks. My guess is that, from a 'real music' standpoint, you'd be at a pretty basic level - you're not going to rock out 'Imagine' on the piano in a hotel lobby without the desk staff asking you to please stop, but if you can knock out 50-odd songs on Expert in pro keys, you might be able to sit down at a keyboard and accompany some guitarists in a practice jam session.

Fortunately I don't have any delusions about ever developing the ability to play music (it doesn't run in the family), I'd just like to get good at -something- in Rock Band 3 - pretend music is more than enough for me, and I've lived in apartments for years, which cuts down on the ability to put in significant hours on the drumming. Pro Keys is still in that sweet spot of 'challenging enough to feel like I'm developing some skill and not playing a Fisher-Price toy', but 'easy enough that I don't give up after an hour of frustration'.
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disarm
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« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2010, 06:17:37 PM »

i have played the piano for quite a few years, so i'll weigh in on the realism subject...

i think one of the biggest barriers to realism with the Pro Keys is that you're only learning to play patterns of key presses with one hand.  you're not really even learning notes because they never really identify what notes you're playing on-screen, only which keys to press.  even though you may feel like you're playing the real song in-game, the reality is that you're playing an altered version that allows you to get by with one hand while playing within a two-octave span on the keyboard.  that's a far cry from trying to cover 88 keys with both hands.  add in that you really can't learn to play piano through easily transposable chord patterns and note shapes like you can with the guitar, and i think you'll find it much more difficult to carry your Pro Keys playing over to the real instrument.  you might be able to improve your dexterity and bang out something that resembles a song after a while, but to truly learn the piano requires quite a bit more.
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sgoldj
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« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2010, 11:07:37 PM »

and here I was all excited about my first ever 100% on expert keyboard.  But it was INXS so I don't think it counts
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Sparhawk
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« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2010, 11:45:23 PM »

Quote from: disarm on November 07, 2010, 06:17:37 PM

i have played the piano for quite a few years, so i'll weigh in on the realism subject...

i think one of the biggest barriers to realism with the Pro Keys is that you're only learning to play patterns of key presses with one hand.  you're not really even learning notes because they never really identify what notes you're playing on-screen, only which keys to press.  even though you may feel like you're playing the real song in-game, the reality is that you're playing an altered version that allows you to get by with one hand while playing within a two-octave span on the keyboard.  that's a far cry from trying to cover 88 keys with both hands.  add in that you really can't learn to play piano through easily transposable chord patterns and note shapes like you can with the guitar, and i think you'll find it much more difficult to carry your Pro Keys playing over to the real instrument.  you might be able to improve your dexterity and bang out something that resembles a song after a while, but to truly learn the piano requires quite a bit more.

yeah I forgot to mention just how narrow the octave range is too. Does RB3 chart glissandos or trills as they are written?
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Pyperkub
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« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2010, 12:43:12 AM »

Quote from: sgoldj on November 07, 2010, 11:07:37 PM

and here I was all excited about my first ever 100% on expert keyboard.  But it was INXS so I don't think it counts


I thought about doing that smile  Is there an achievement?
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Larraque
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« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2010, 02:41:45 PM »

Quote from: sgoldj on November 07, 2010, 11:07:37 PM

and here I was all excited about my first ever 100% on expert keyboard.  But it was INXS so I don't think it counts

My first expert 100% too! Probably everyones....

I feel like Pro Keys is in desperate need of more songs. It's only been two weeks, but only having 69 songs now (out of 700+) that have pro keys support really makes the party selection really limited. I wish they had started selling songs with keys support a few months back so that - like with pro drums - the song selection isn't so limited. Same issue with Harmonies. I do realize that it's pretty damn picky of me, but I've spent so much time with the keys that I've played each song 3+ times now (and I reached 331st on the leaderboards on saturday morning --- I don't usually like to toot my own horn but that's probably the only time I've ever been on the leaderboards of anything on xbox live; it's gone down a bit since then)
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The Grue
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« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2010, 03:21:47 PM »

Quote from: DragonFyre on November 08, 2010, 02:41:45 PM

I wish they had started selling songs with keys support a few months back so that - like with pro drums - the song selection isn't so limited. Same issue with Harmonies.

The stuff with keys only works with RB3, so they couldn't have done this, since RB3 wasn't out and they were getting through the last of the RB2 and RB-compatible DLC.  If they would have done this, people would only be able to buy it, but couldn't play it for weeks.
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Larraque
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« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2010, 07:24:06 PM »

Quote from: The Grue on November 08, 2010, 03:21:47 PM

Quote from: DragonFyre on November 08, 2010, 02:41:45 PM

I wish they had started selling songs with keys support a few months back so that - like with pro drums - the song selection isn't so limited. Same issue with Harmonies.

The stuff with keys only works with RB3, so they couldn't have done this, since RB3 wasn't out and they were getting through the last of the RB2 and RB-compatible DLC.  If they would have done this, people would only be able to buy it, but couldn't play it for weeks.

I know. It was a wish more than anything else. It's harmonix's fault that I love keys so much and want more songs asap.
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TiLT
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« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2010, 09:47:32 PM »

I got the keyboard today and sat down after work to play with it. The next thing I know, I have to get ready for bed. Damn...

I've got mixed opinions about the pro keys. It's definitely fun and very challenging, but the challenge seems to be artificial. Playing Imagine the way Rock Band 3 wants you to play it is considerably harder than playing it for real. This is due to three things:

1) The low notes intersect with the main melody, which isn't supposed to happen AFAIK. This means that you need to move your hands way more than you'll feel comfortable with.
2) The chart is hard to read. I was struggling a lot with it. Eventually I made major strides in accuracy by simply closing my eyes and listening to the melody in some cases (particularly during the training exercises). I'm also fairly certain that the placement of the notes on the grid don't match the way the keys are organized on the keyboard itself. If you base yourself on the distances on the screen you'll get some nasty surprises when you either move your fingers too far or too short (mostly the latter).
3) The game wants you to play with one hand. That's just not something you do on a real keyboard or piano. I tried following the game's advice about doing this initially, but gave up and started using both hands (and planning when to use overdrive since I had no free hands. I might just have to hook up a pedal to trigger overdrive with so I can play the way I feel most comfortable with). After making this change I felt much more relaxed and in control. This was when I took the chance of going up to Medium, which is where I'm currently playing.

Playing pro keys is much more challenging than the guitar or the vocals, which are the only two other instruments I've played so far. It's going to take a lot of practice to get good at this. I tried playing Imagine on Hard in Learn Song mode. Even after 15-20 minutes of playing a short section of the song on repeat I just couldn't nail it. I got 90% at most, but had a hard time repeating even that. With a larger distance between my hands and no overlapping notes (as in the real song I guess) it would be MUCH easier.

Also did a little experimenting with regular keys, which was super-easy in comparison. Could jump straight up to Hard. It has its challenges too, but it's not too bad.
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Pyperkub
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« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2010, 10:49:11 PM »

Rockbandaide has two intros to Pro Keys up, with some valuable tips:

Part 1:

Quote
One of the biggest things I’ve noticed about Pro mode is what a number of people have said about it – you get out of it what you put in.  Going into it as if it were “just another plastic instrument” is going to have some pretty negative consequences.  It needs to be treated as a learning tool, as that is what you’re doing – learning.

Part 2: 

Quote
One of the main aspects I wanted to bring up that I hadn’t mentioned previously – since I hadn’t spent much time with it – was the “Learn A Song” feature.  I believe it is what constitutes the “tutorials for every song” idea.  These seem to be crucial for anyone lacking keyboard/piano experience, if you don’t want to fumble all over the keyboard during songs.  They function like a hybrid Practice mode and Instrument Trainer:  You select a song, and then you’re met with the Trainer interface that houses the main sections of the songs. 

I haven't tried the Song Trainer yet - that sounds like it could be helpful...

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TiLT
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« Reply #21 on: November 09, 2010, 08:06:12 AM »

Yeah, the song trainer is nice. It encapsulates small, important parts of the song and loops them until you've mastered them (in the same way as the regular instrument tutorials).
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Larraque
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« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2010, 02:07:39 PM »

I have a new want! I took my pro-keys playing self online last night. I want people who play online to pay attention to someone being on keys and only pick songs that are playable on keys.
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sparkorama1
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« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2011, 12:59:40 AM »

Ok I'd also like to weigh in with my opinion.  I have played and taught (real) keys for over 30 years and still love a new challenge.

Pro keys is fun and if you have good 'chops' then you have an advantage in getting to higher scores (actually I tend to care more about accuracy than numerical scores). I'm getting 95% + expert pro keys on songs that I work on for 30 minutes or so.  I would agree that the charts are brutal to read - I find myself making educated guesses as what the notes should be based on song key and chord changes.  I would be happier if they charted the parts out in standard notation and gave an option to download them as an alternative to the 'flying keys'  I can tell you a lot of music/piano teachers would love this as a tool.

The other thing is that it's really disorienting not hearing the result of your key presses (even when they're wrong) I know this is a feature of the entire rock band franchise but I guess I subconsciously just expect the keyboard to make a sound when I press it (old habits die hard).  When learning a song the 'old fashioned' way hearing where you're wrong really helps.  RB3 really tries to shift the emphasis from listening to looking - it can really feel artificial at times.

As far as the accuracy of the kbd. parts vs. the recordings go - even on expert - there's major differences.  Apart from the one-handed thing some of the parts are an amalgam of numerous things going on in the original recording.  Bottom line - in many cases nobody in the original recording session EVER played what the chart is asking you to play.  Face it, most piano players use 2 hands.

Finally, the ultimate goal of this game is to flawlessly reproduce elements of a (in most cases) studio recording that required multiple takes to produce. The closer you get to this goal the more you realize that 'perfection' in music is actually kind of boring.  Perhaps in future versions of the game points will be awarded for individual style as measured by use of inversions, comping patterns, dynamics, etc., etc.
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Larraque
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« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2011, 02:26:55 PM »

Quote from: sparkorama1 on January 04, 2011, 12:59:40 AM

Ok I'd also like to weigh in with my opinion.  I have played and taught (real) keys for over 30 years and still love a new challenge.

How do you feel the charts on expert translate to real keyboard charts for the song?

(Disclaimer: I've tried a few songs that I can do but they're really really basic songs like Werewolves of London, The Con, and Roundabout by Yes. Werewolves sounded fairly accurate.)
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TiLT
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« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2011, 02:47:31 PM »

Quote from: DragonFyre on January 04, 2011, 02:26:55 PM

Quote from: sparkorama1 on January 04, 2011, 12:59:40 AM

Ok I'd also like to weigh in with my opinion.  I have played and taught (real) keys for over 30 years and still love a new challenge.

How do you feel the charts on expert translate to real keyboard charts for the song?

(Disclaimer: I've tried a few songs that I can do but they're really really basic songs like Werewolves of London, The Con, and Roundabout by Yes. Werewolves sounded fairly accurate.)

I think he already answered that:

Quote
As far as the accuracy of the kbd. parts vs. the recordings go - even on expert - there's major differences.  Apart from the one-handed thing some of the parts are an amalgam of numerous things going on in the original recording.  Bottom line - in many cases nobody in the original recording session EVER played what the chart is asking you to play.  Face it, most piano players use 2 hands.

The chart is very compressed. I've noticed situations where playing notes lower on the keyboard actually produces higher pitched notes, and vice-versa. For example, playing Imagine you'll end up doing finger gymnastics that would never have been necessary in the original.
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Larraque
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« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2011, 03:27:04 PM »

LOL. Reading is fundamental.  Tongue
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Larraque
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« Reply #27 on: March 09, 2011, 05:30:29 PM »

I've finally, after months of floundering around on medium/hard, started making major headway into pro keys on expert. I'm not nailing songs completely but I'm getting 85-90% range on most of the sub 3-dot songs. I no longer miss every single three-note chord and I sometimes even hit the four note ones.

Sometimes I have to play the song with both hands but it always feels much more satisfying to do it on just the right hand.

It feels absolutely amazing every time I tear up a song at this level.
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