design problem: medium drum fills vs. fast anticipation

nothingsnothings Unsigned
edited October 2009 in The Rock Band Network
I was just playing through my song on Medium drums and discovered that with drum fills on it's a lot harder than I expected.

Here's why:

The song is at 188 bpm and something like half of the measures anticipate the measure change - the effective downbeat is an eighth-note early.

Most of the right-hand timekeeping is on quarter notes although there are stretches where it's in eighths (on Expert only). During those 50% of measures above, no kick ever falls on the '1' of the measure; one always falls on the prior eighth. (The hat/ride almost always still fall on the 1.)

So what this means is you end up with a lot of steady right-hand timekeeping on 1,2,3,4 along with a kick on 4-and (and elsewhere). Fortunately there's few crashes without prior fills; when there are, playing them on the RB kit with the hat on yellow is awkward, since you have to play 4:yellow, 4-and:green, 1:yellow, which is "rough" at 188 bpm. (Or would be at lower difficulties.)

Ok, so, that's the set up: it's a little cruel if I were to make people doing quarter-note timekeeping play 4:yellow, 4-and:green, 1:yellow when you're at 188 bpm. Obviously on the difficulty levels where that's inappropriate I can thin out the hats to make it easier.

The problem is drum fills on the lower difficulties. These fills end up in places where there's no crash in the original, and there's steady quarter-note timekeeping. For the higher difficulty levels to feel right with the anticipation, the fill has to end on 4-and. That means when you do a drum fill on Medium, you end up having to hit a crash on 4-and, and then immediately jump back to quarter-note timekeeping on the 1. (In these cases there's never a kick on the 1, so it's not infeasible, it just doesn't feel appropriate for the difficulty setting, and it doesn't feel fun: it feels like the game is screwing with you when you choose to do a fill. The most plausible outcome if I leave it this way is a Medium player would have to learn to hit the green on 4-and with the right hand, and then the yellow on 1 with the left hand, and then move the left hand over to red and the right hand to 2. That's learnable, but aren't fills supposed to be fun? Having to work this hard on how you "recover" from them seems like the entirely wrong feel.)

The only thing I can see to do is to get rid of the hat on 1 of the measure following a drum fill for the Medium track. But now I'm breaking down the steady timekeeping of Medium when you're not playing drum fills; every time you get to one of these spots where there would have been a drum fill if you had the overdrive, you get silence on 1, and you're going to not feel connected to the music (I assume).

Bottom line, the ideal solution would either be for me to be able to adjust the fill lane timing to be different in Medium (which doesn't seem possible--I assume the 5 drum fill lanes are for the five pads, not for, uh, 5 difficulty levels), or for there to be a way to say 'remove these gems if-and-only-if there was a drum fill', which also doesn't exist as far as I know. So I'm stuck for a satisfactory solution.

(I haven't checked Easy with drum fills yet but it probably has the same problem.)

Am I missing something? Or is there a different approach? Or do I just have to live with one of my awkward solutions?


  • MarklefordMarkleford Opening Act
    edited October 2009
    It *is* an odd scenario. I think the primary example of anticipating the downbeat is Motley Crue's "Kickstart my Heart", but I have to admit I haven't drummed it on anything but Expert. If I get around to it, I'll give it a whirl on Medium and try to figure out what they did with it: I'm guessing they went with 'make the drummer figure out playing on 4&'!

    P.S. In the "don't you feel old now?" department, I have an original copy of your "Five" album.

    - m
  • nothingsnothings Unsigned
    edited October 2009
    Ok, I just downloaded Kickstart My Heart and took a look. It appears that almost all of the anticipated downbeats have a crash on them, so that sidesteps the fill problem -- they author the crash and clean the timekeeping gems around it in medium, which works for the fills too. There are a couple times without crashes (I don't know whether they can be fill ends) and they go ahead and make the medium player hit the kick on the 4-and, and thin out the timekeeping gems around that as well.

    I already do that some places, but others I don't if the timekeeping hand is steady through it and the anticipated beat wasn't that strong song-wide (as opposed to just what the drums are doing). I guess there's an position to stake out that either the anticipated downbeat is "dominant", in which case author it that way in medium (and then a fill ending there is fine), or the anticipated downbeat is "unimportant", in which case you can author medium the way I have (keeping time straight through it), but the drum fill should end unanticipated (which avoids my problem).

    I'm not thrilled with this because I think the medium will be a lot less fun to play if it's constantly broken up so it can hit the anticipated beat, but nothing else seems plausible.
  • edited October 2009
    ok, so there is another solution, but I'm not positive it will work, as I haven't heard your song.

    what you can do is author the '4 and' anticipation on Medium whenever applicable, and remove the following downbeat on the one. From your previous posts, it seems as though the anticipation beat is important to the feel of the song, and the prioritization of this beat above the following downbeat seems like it might even improve the playing experience for Medium.

    This would allow you to keep the fills the way they should be and make sure that Medium felt uniform even if you don't hit the fills.

    hope this helps.

  • nothingsnothings Unsigned
    edited October 2009
    Yep, this is what I decided to do for now.

    The reason I didn't do it this way at first was because of the suggestion in the docs that 'Medium players tend to get into a groove pretty easily when the beat is predictable and doesn't vary' and since the timekeeping stayed unsyncopated I figured it was more medium-friendly to emphasize the predictable beat than to force them to play the anticipation.

    In the end I only had to fix about three places (the number of fills that ended on an anticipation that wasn't already emphasized in medium), so putting the anticipation emphasis in in those places isn't too disruptive of the medium flow.
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