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Information Technology
Leicester MA

Rock Band is for making music, too

Joe Conley on Thursday, 13 March 2008. Posted in Clubs

Sure, Rock Band is a great game for you and up to three of your friends to pretend you actually possess some tuneful talent, but why not use it to make your own music? With a Mac with GarageBand, some controller drivers, a cheap program to control USB input, and either the Rock Band drums or guitar, you can be recording your own CD in an hour.

  • First, download the XBox 360 controller drivers, or the PS3 controller drivers from Colin Monro's site.
  • Next, purchase (or use the limited free trial of) ControllerMate for 15$.
  • Install both and restart.
  • Use ControllerMate to map the drums or guitar buttons to single keyboard keys like A, S, D, F, G, H, J, K, L... (This is done under the 'Programming' view in ControllerMate, read the Help included to understand how it works.
  • Open a new or existing project in GarageBand, pick a synthesized instrument, and open the Musical Typing window, found under Window > Musical Typing
  • Change which keys to which the drum pads are mapped to your liking inside of ControllerMate, and pick different octaves with Z and X inside of GarageBand.
  • Bang on the drums all day

There are some limitations unfortunately, like the fact that while you can use the guitar and the drums simultaneously with GarageBand, you can only be doing musical typing with one instrument, so they'll both sound the same. Future versions of ControllerMate may allow you to remap them as midi inputs, which GarageBand allows many of. But for now, you can at least use one Rock Band instrument in combination with other midi devices like a keyboard or any real instrument track that you have lined-in to your computer.

Also for the guitar input in ControllerMate you need to do a little more logic to check the value of the strum bar and the fret button state, but it's not complicated logic, so I'll leave it to you.

So now your Rock Band purchase includes a free Drum Kit! ...and a free tool for web browsing.

Credit to Erik Dasque for the inspiration.