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Beat Down: Beaterator brings your long-awaited collaboration with Timbaland to life 

Beaterator brings your long-awaited collaboration with Timbaland to life.

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So Timbaland - now that we're working together, do you mind if I just call you Timba? - anyway, look, we need to take your career in a new direction. I'm not talking about the tweeny music you're producing with Miley Cyrus or those oldster collaborations with Madonna. The record industry is dead. Forget the cellphone album - that was an idiotic idea. The future is in videogames.

Don't laugh. Music videogames go way back. Haven't you heard of that old electronic game Simon? And a few years ago there was MTV Music Generator 2 for the PS2. It was pretty good. Had players moving blocks of sound around - you know, beats, melodies, snippets of bassline - the same kinds of sounds that you juggle around every day. Real music producer stuff made easy.

Well how about a game just like that, but instead of people sitting in front of their TVs, they can take it with them? You've heard of Rockstar, right? The company that makes the Grand Theft Auto games? Anyone who's ever played those games knows that the soundtracks are the best parts. Well Rockstar is doing a Music Generator-type game, but for the PSP. You know, Sony's handheld? Well, don't worry. I'm sure a bunch of kids somewhere have them.

Anyway, all you have to do is whip up a bunch of musical building blocks. Lay down some beats, craft a few hooks. Easy as can be. Just make sure they all go together - real mix-and-matchable stuff. Keep them in four-four time - none of those wild rhythms you hear coming out of Europe. And don't do that ambient Japanese stuff either. Just straight-ahead simple electronic music - you know, generic hip-hop background noise, TV-versions of club tracks, that kind of thing.

People can make up their own stuff, too. Don't worry, they can't sample other people's songs and risk a plagiarism lawsuit like you did. Just kidding, Timba! But yeah, if they want to, they can try clicking out their own rhythms or melodies with the PSP's buttons. I'm telling you, it's the future of music, man. Put the power of the producer in the hands of the people. And don't think they won't forget who put it there. We'll get your name above the title somewhere.

THE GOOD: Sure, Timba, you'll get to be in the game, all square-jawed and aloof - a real videogame hero sitting in the center of a virtual sound system. Kids can start and stop parts of the track while you look like you're sitting there mixing it. Those player-controlled parts are a real-time demonstration of how a single element can make or break an entire song.

THE BAD: The downside is that the PSP can't replicate all the expensive equipment you get to work with in a real production studio. In life, a knob has an infinite number of positions around its 360 degrees. In a videogame there are only as many positions as the programmers put there. So don't expect to hear anything wildly imaginative or tweak anything to the limits of originality.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Beaterator can be a sophisticated tool for writing simple songs.


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