Friday, May 8, 2009

Schizophonic Performance article

I'm excited to report that my first article on Guitar Hero and Rock Band has been accepted for publication in the Journal of the Society for American Music. According to my copyright transfer agreement, I have the right to post the unrevised manuscript version on a personal website -- see the PDF link at the end of this post.

Update: the article has now been published -- see this post for the final version.

Schizophonic Performance: Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Virtual Virtuosity

Abstract: Music-oriented videogames like Guitar Hero and Rock Band are generating new modes of engagement with popular music repertoires. Tens of millions of players use instrument-shaped controllers to play along with classic and contemporary rock songs, generating appreciative feedback from a virtual crowd. These games inspire physically virtuosic, visually engaging performances. Players often “practice” at home and “perform” in public (or on YouTube). Advanced players gather online to share tips for mastering the fingerwork for complicated musical passages. In the course of their gameplay, players encounter and assess game designers’ conceptions of rock’s canonical repertoire, aesthetic norms, performance conventions, and symbolic value. But what does pressing buttons in time with a pre-recorded soundtrack have to do with music-making? This article investigates these games’ implicit models of rock authenticity, their sometimes-sincere/sometimes-ironic constructions of rock heroism, and their players’ ideas about authentic musicality. Drawing on ethnographic research—including interviews with players and game designers, a web-based qualitative survey, and media reception analysis—I discuss players’ concepts of musicality, creativity, and performance as they are developed through Guitar Hero and Rock Band gameplay and game-related discourse.


Eli L. said...

Congrats! Glad it's finally published; it really is a great read, and I'm glad that this topic, which is becoming more and more pertinent, could be covered so adeptly.

The industry moves so quickly though -- it'll be interesting to see what the next two or three years hold, with the upcoming DJ games and tween-oriented iterations of GH and RB, and whatever the big companies hold in store beyond that.

Thanks one more time for all your help!

Nick Andrew said...

Nice Blog!
How do you find time to create such an informative blog. It's really nice to went through your blog.

Ares said...

Congradulations on being published. I must say I trully enjoy playing Guitar Hero. As someone who cant play a guitar in real life, it is totally awesome to be able to rock out to my favorite songs and get that %100.

Saille said...

Hi! I'm really glad I came across your blog and your paper. I'm an undergrad researching a paper about music video games and your paper looks to be really interesting! It's sad that there doesn't seem to be much research about these games yet. Can't wait to see the finished article.

Allan Cesar said...

Dear Kiri,

I'm Allan Cesar, music educator from Brazil. I'm researching about digital games, motivation to learn and digital technologies in music education. I found your article and it was very useful for me. Thank you!
However, there some terms that I didn't find a meaning in portuguese (Brazil). The terms are: schizophonic, and rock drag (and then you quote drag perfomance).
Problably it's better to use the email to talk about these questions, if you some time, of course.

My email is

Thanks again for the excellent article!

Allan Cesar

Kiri said...

I wrote to Allan separately, but for any other Portuguese readers out there, here is a citation for a related article that has been translated: “Por que você não pega uma guitarra de verdade? Guitar Hero, Rock Band, & Performance Virtual” (trans. Simone do Valle) Rumos da cultura da música: negócios, estéticas, linguagens e audibilidades, ed. Simone Pereira de Sá. Porto Alegre, Brazil: Editora Sulina. 2010. (pp. 111-138)

guitar picks said...

The results of this study provide valuable information regarding the effects of virtual guitar games. These findings are very helpful to those who are fund of these games. Thanks for sharing.