Posts Tagged ‘Fab Four’

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The Beatles: Rock Band vs Guitar Hero

March 11, 2009

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The much-anticipated digital reunion of The Beatles has got a launch date: September 9.

Fans of Fab Four who have always wanted to sing alongside John, Paul, George and Ringo will finally get their chance when the band’s interactive video game hits the shelves.

“The Beatles: Rock Band” developed by Harmonix will be available simultaneously at locations in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand.

The videogame is based on MTV‘s popular “Rock Band” and will “allow fans to pick up the guitar, bass, mic or drums and experience The Beatles extraordinary catalog of music through gameplay that takes players on a journey through the legacy and evolution of the band’s legendary career”.

Apple Corps, which handles the affairs of the group, and Viacom’s MTV Networks have also announced the software will be priced at $59.99. As well as support for the more usual instruments for the video game, “a limited number of new hardware offerings modelled after instruments used by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr throughout their career” can be bought for an extra $99.99. (There are no UK prices yet.) Platic Riky anyone?

“The Beatles: Rock Band” will be compatible with Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony‘s PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii systems. Existing Rock Band instrument controllers can be used to play the game.

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What has not been announced yet are the songs in the package but fans should expect to have more than a decent smattering of the greatest hits as they follow the band’s iconic career in the game.

The Beatles have closely guarded the distribution of their back catalogue – their songs are still not available for digital download via iTunes for instance. Their music continues to sell in huge quantities. The group has sold more than 600 million albums.

The official Beatles Rock Band website is here (not that it shows you much yet).

In further Beatles / Game news

Not a surprise but it looks like Activision (Guitar Hero), and MTV Games (Rock Band), are both going after the Beatles. What makes this a big deal is not only the millions, but the Beatles are not even on iTunes yet.

Representatives for the Beatles are in talks with Activision and MTV to expand the group’s licensing deal to include videogames, according to a new report by the Financial Times.

Any deal would be worth “several million dollars” according to sources, and could be reached within a matter of weeks.

Activision publishes the Guitar Hero franchise, while MTV Games is the company behind Rock Band.

But any potential deal would need to be approved by EMI, which owns the master recordings of the Beatles, and Apple Corps, the company set up to manage Beatles business interests.

Apple Corps has been selective with its licensing and has yet to release Beatles recordings on any online digital format, although according to the FT, the company has been more active in the past year since Jeff Jones took over the role of chief executive.

Activision has had considerable success with the Guitar Hero franchise in recent year’s, with a new portable version due for the DS, and a dedicated version featuring US rockers Aerosmith set for release.

Although MTV Games’ Rock Band is the new contender in the lucrative music gaming genre, it is also proving successful, with the company announcing back in February that it had already achieved downloads of over 3 million songs in the US alone.

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The Beatles gone soft….

November 5, 2008

Some of the most recognizable songs of our generation have been made by the same band, made with the same instruments and even in the same room!
The legacy George Martin and The Beatles left musically is so heavily documented and is almost intangible to admit the breakthroughs these people made in the field  of pop ‘songs’ and modern music production.

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Much has been said about EastWest’s ambitious Fab Four virtual instrument/soundbank, due in part to the fact that it focuses on The Beatles, probably the most permeating and influential pop music group ever. But it’s also because the 13 GB worth of sounds are themselves so convincing and because of the pedigree of the package’s creators and sound sources. Long in the making and finally delivered well past its initial ship date, much has been made about how impressively accurate the sounds are to the original song layers they re-create. My goal, however, was to discover whether Fab Four’s sounds could really hold their weight in a more modern-styled production session; sure, they work great for making Beatles-y tracks, but will they work for anything else?

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For those who haven’t seen or heard about Fab Four since its introduction way back at the 2007 Winter NAMM show, this high-profile (and not officially Beatles-endorsed) soundbank focuses on re-creating some of the most classic setups achieved by The Beatles and their producer/engineers, rather than just the instruments themselves. Sparing no expense to find just the right pieces, dedicated project producer Doug Rogers began by gathering and restoring not only the original drums, basses, keyboards and guitars (some of them costing more than $200,000 supplied from private collectors), but also the original period amplifiers (Fender, Vox), rare microphones (Neumann, AKG, Cole, STC), preamps and unique compressors/limiters (Fairchild, EMI modded Altec) and even the same Studer tape machine and EMI Redd tube mixing desk used in making the original songs. To step up the credibility notch even further, Rogers enlisted the help of Ken Scott, the legendary Beatles engineer who worked on “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help” and “Rubber Soul” and was main engineer for Magical Mystery Tour and The Beatles (White Album), among many other amazing credits. Then, to help play the instruments he had gathered, Rogers brought in drummer Danny Seiwell and guitarist Laurence Juber, both longtime members of Paul McCartney and Wings. Once everything was painstakingly sampled and organized, they added a powerful new GUI with a graceful articulation-control solution and a killer implementation of the Beatles’ legendary ADT technique (artificial double tracking).
The cumulative result of this labor of love is a virtual instrument that has proved to be sonically true to the original, yet completely 21st-century in usability. Fab Four also includes EastWest’s recent 64-bit (and 32-bit-compatible) Play Advanced Sample Engine, which streams from disk very capably with no voice stealing and impressively high polyphony. Using Legato Detection, Play is able to sense smoothly phrased or repetitive playing and respond dynamically, alternating samples or adjusting articulations. For many of the patches, Play uses a small group of MIDI notes as “switches,” making it easy to move between chains of samples on the fly with one hand while playing with the other.

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The convolution-based emulations of Abbey Road’s many reverbs (both physical and electromechanical), ADSR envelopes, detailed Delay section, incredibly useful Stereo Spread control, Pan, Mono/Stereo settings like L/R Swap and Mono Sum and extensive MIDI input filtering all offer extended flexibility to the patches, some of which are already highly processed. Play can load multiple sounds into its chooser simultaneously for quick switching, and the slick Browser window helps you quickly find the sounds you’re after. As a powerful bonus, the awesome built-in Network Control functionality allows you to load instruments on extra computers and control them from the master computer without KVM switching and without needing to purchase extra licenses. And don’t forget the truly impressive ADT, which pairs a very short delay with a slightly moving phase shift that I swear makes just about anything sound better (especially guitars).