There’s been various speculation about whether the advent of the video game Rock Band will inspire real-world musicians. It certainly isn’t just a Simon-style button masher. Queue up Rush, crank up the difficulty level, grab real drum sticks, and you’d better actually have a sense of timing.

But maybe the real message of Rock Band’s success is that musicians need some friends to jam with. Witness what happens to MTV Multiplayer blogger Tracey John when she tries to play all four instruments at once:

‘Rock Band’ Challenge — One Woman, Four Instruments, At The Same Time [MTV Multiplayer]

Funny, this is roughly what I looked like trying to play just one guitar in my play test at Harmonix in August. Doh. (I’m holding out for Herbie Hancock Presents Keyboard Hero any day now.)

In all seriousness, the multiplayer aspect of Rock Band is its killer feature. My prediction: back here in music land, while the computer music emphasis remains on one-man-bands, more multi-computer, multi-player jamming functionality could be the wave of the future. In the meantime, I’ll continue to wrangle two or three or five computers in performance at once — probably with similar effects.

  • bobby

    About 5 years ago we built a small Max patch and got some midi sync between 4 laptops, an MPC 2000, and 2 synths. We put it on an eMac (remember those) in the middle of a table, so any of us could make a BPM change.

    With a guitarist playing live too, it made for a pretty great set…You don't need a ton of technology going on to make a pretty cool synced up set.

  • Kyran

    Getting two laptops to sync isn't all that easy. If you have live it's ok, but most other sequencer programs only function as midi master and not as slave.

    And even then it requires a midi box and stuff. You should be able to sync two laptops wireless, just put them next to each other, press a button (maybe two) and that should be it.

    As it is now you really need to be a computer geek to form a band with two or more laptop performers

  • Kyran – This is just an FYI for those who haven't tried it yet, but Macs can sync over IP (I think with Tiger and up). Works pretty well, actually. I've even done shows synced like that, so it's reliable (we did have an ethernet cable connecting the two boxes, so it wasn't wireless, but we have done that in the studio).

    Anyone know of any PC programs that allow this?