This’ll work great! (Artist rendering; final product may differ.) Bach manuscript image (CC-BY-SA) Nathan Siemers. Mock-up created by the Future Prediction Department… intern.

Kotaku notes that Rock Band 3‘s icons tease something we’ve been awaiting a long time — keys.

It’s ironic that in order to make guitars playable in games, they were effectively made into keyboards, yet it’s taken this long to actually get keyboards. Oh, wait — yeah, there is that whole problem of having as many as 88 keys, two hands, and no convenient way to fit the staff notation into the descending gems view. Not entirely sure how that’ll work out; see also a controller concept, below.

Of course, this also means that, while electronic music is still largely off-limits, synthpop, prog, and synth bands are all now fair game. That’s fantastic news for the Rock Band Network I’ve covered here on CDM, which lets anyone with a copy of Reaper adapt music for the platform.

So, I got one wish… though I do have to say it again, on behalf of the richer gameplay and the chance for VJ backgrounds and electronic tracks. Xbox Network. Frequency. Amplitude. (Or, heck, Google TV/Android. Anything.) Long-time Harmonix watchers know what I’m talking about.

Oh, side note to Kotaku: am I going to have to send Stevie Wonder and J.S. Bach to kick your ass, or will you stop making fun of the keyboard? Yeah, it’s had its embarrassing moments, like any other instrument. It’s no soprano sax, though.

Found: the new Rock Band 3 official keyboard controller, which will… oh. Wait. Even that has too many keys. Maybe they have some other idea here. Photo (CC-BY-SA) LizaWasHere.
  • Chris McD

    They'll probably look to Keyboardmania for inspiration, like what they did with GuitarFreaks when making Guitar Hero.

  • Keyboardmania is a beautiful thing. I want my live rig to look exactly like that.

  • ChuckEye

    At some point I'm going to film a spoof commercial for "Prog Band" from the makers of "Chapman Stick Hero"… Prog Band comes with a zillion drum pads (and a gong…), dual-tiered keyboards (and a cape for the keyboardist…), etc.

    Of course, this came out of my desire for "Stick Hero", with a Tony Levin avatar bopping around on the screen… and the controller would have 8-10 buttons for two-handed tapping…

  • @ChuckEye remember to include the modular as big as the side of a house.

  • Emu

    I was wondering when they were going to tap into Keyboardmania. They better make it 25 keys! (though I'm going to guess it to be 13..) the real question that I thought of before is how can they put all of the notes on the screen for a 5 piece band with keys?

  • Polite

    Looking forward to this. Though I haven't really broken out rock band in a while now.

  • Mudo

    I can see a FAIL like DJhero. Sorry for hate but I love the NUMARK controller and DJhero is… mmm… well… CRAPPY?

  • pbs99

    leave the soprano sax out of it!
    I know Kenny G defiled it, but Coltrane and many others have made it sound great.

  • I'm not into these games but there is a serious flaw in this article and the headlining screen cap/mock-up:

    All music is staff notation, not just Keyboards o_O. Guitar hero/rock band/etc fret boards don't represent anything intrisically musical outside of rhythm…

    Same thing goes for DJ Hero, which is a decent game and has some decent music. Their failure was they released it before you could create your own mixes and upload them and they also take far too long to create new mixes. I already sold off my copy though, burnt out on it real quick. Don't give me the "it's too easy" bs either.. on Expert the scratching is insane as you have to get all directions, etc.. Most ppl were just upset that you don't mix the songs yourself, but htf would that work anyways.. it would't. That'd be an entirely different game that is outside of the Rock Band/Guitar Hero paradigm and design (which we all agree we'd rather see).

  • Stij

    @ChuckEye: I'd buy it. 😀

    I do wonder how exactly they're going to pull this off. Most of you guys seem to be expecting an experience similar to a real keyboard, which I doubt. Is playing guitar in Guitar Hero anything like a real guitar? Are the drums in Rock Band anything like real drums? (well, a little bit, but not really)

    Besides, the number of popular rock songs that extensively use keyboard is pretty limited. As much as I'd love for them to use prog and fusion stuff, that's pretty unlikely…

  • lol "a cape for the keyboardist" .. +1 ChuckEye

  • Stij, if you have a chance, ever, try that Japanese game that lets you play Taiko drums (the arcade version). That one is a lot like a real big drum, with real thick (2 inch or so) wooden sticks.

    Personally I'm more interested in things being "fun" than things being "realistic", but what matters to me is the feel. Home controllers, like cheap MIDI keyboards and many grooveboxes, don't feel good to me, but on the bright side they are cheap.

    There was, BTW, a home release of Konami's Keyboard Mania, which had a Yamaha keyboard as a controller that doubled as a MIDI controller.

  • Philippe

    It better be a keytar controller

  • Justin Reed

    been a fan of RB from the beginning…keys is a natural extension clearly though i'm not sure how they will clarify songs with or without keys…will they update the charts for legacy songs?

    in terms of the implementation – I'd love to see a horizontally scrolling piano staff on the bottom of the screen. They could implement it just like the vocal scroll. a 25 key controller would be sweetness…

    in other rockband news
    just downloaded 10 hendrix songs and am in heaven!

  • Stij

    @Kassen: I think I've seen that before. Taiko Drum Master, right? It looks fun.

    (it seems like a lot of Japanese arcade games have crazy controllers, actually. maybe we could take a hint from them…)

  • salamanderanagram

    new version of reason/record coming soon…
    3 days of news already up at the props site… finally some music news i am excited for, surprised not to see it here yet?

  • Koratanu

    Maybe they'll use this in Harmonix's new "Indie Band Hero." Although, in order to make that game true to the genre the second you finish typing in your band name it goes to the game over screen…

    I can see it now: the second this gets released, the controller is going to get implanted into sooo many Live sets.

  • Wilbo

    Seems it would have to just be a toned down version of Keyboard Mania or Synthesia, so just quick single hand keyboard riffs instead of the complex two handed stuff the full blown keyboard games feature. I really can't think of any other way, although I'm sure they're capable of figuring out how to make playing the keyboard as unrealistic as possible.

  • mishima

    I hope part of the keyboard is a single knob that you have to turn every now and then to get the synth sounding JUST RIGHT

  • I was joking about the soprano sax. But indeed, if Coltrane touched anything, it is permanently magical.

    @salamanderanagram: Spreading feature releases out over five days is an attempt by the Props to get more news. It's cool; I'm just not playing. 😉 I don't think these upgrades will warrant five separate news items, and I'd wind up having to copy and paste from their site.

  • salamanderanagram

    peter, i don't disagree, but c'mon, a quick mention wouldn't hurt… beats the pants off of news about rebirth on an ipad for example.

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