Now that Wii Music has been released, there’s a lot to talk about, like how Miyamoto-san has been travelling overseas to promote the game, and the fact that the promotional staff have videos supporting the claim made here in our last session that players can learn how to play real drums by taking Wii Music’s Drum Lessons. I was certain that I would be able to hear about a lot of new topics, so I’ve reassembled everyone for another round of discussion. Kondo-san, the sound supervisor, was absent last time.
That’s right. I’m glad I could be here this time.
You can really get this good in a little over a week of practice?
I’ve proved it again! (laughs)
You sure have! (laughs)
It’s amazing that even someone who gets off to a rough start can become familiar with real drums in just about one week.
It’s probably because the basic layout of the drum set is the same. But also, the lesson uses animation to illustrate how to properly play the drums, and you learn with your body, so that when faced with a real set, you can jump right in.
In Wii Music, you’re basically playing air drums. Then to sit down at a real set and be able to play is truly interesting.
Real drums are quite loud. It can be very overwhelming at first. At least, it was for many of our team members. However, they soon got used to it and started banging away.
Our next topic is Miyamoto-san’s trip in late October to Europe and America. What were you talking about with people there?
About my personal interest in music, to name one topic.
When you were a student, you were in a band, and your hobby since then has been to “practice guitar”, right? (laughs)
Yes, I’ve been practicing for about 30 years! (laughs) In a band, we usually start with covers. We copy by ear songs of bands that we admire. But when you’re doing nothing but imitating, it gets old pretty quick, so we tried making our own original music. Once you are able to express yourself musically, that’s when it gets really fun. I talked about things like that.
I know what you mean.
I talked in this way too:Suppose you buy a piano. They’re expensive and not easy to buy, but suppose you do. When it’s delivered to your house, the first thing everyone does is start pounding on the keys. Playing a song, however, is quite difficult, so people end up taking piano lessons.
They can make sounds, but can’t play a song.
But if you buy Wii Music, in five minutes you’ll be playing in an ensemble together!
And there are 60 different musical instruments to choose from, and there’s even a back up band!
That’s why I think Wii Music is an incredibly advanced musical instrument—the instrument of the future. Overseas, I was telling everyone about how it’s a new kind of instrument that anyone can easily learn to play and enjoy.
You went to France, England and America. Was the response different by country?
Not particularly, but I did notice that music education varies by country. In Japan, everyone learns to play the recorder and to sing in chorus in the school concerts, but some countries don’t have much at all in the way of elementary school music classes.
What do people from such countries think when they see Wii Music?
A lot of interviewers asked positive questions, such as about the possibility of using Wii Music in schools in order to interest children in music. But while I was traveling around Europe I noticed something else that really surprised me. I felt like I had changed.
As I was getting on and off planes, catching taxis and walking around, I heard the local music wherever I went, and I could feel the regional differences in the music. Even in genres I’d never been interested in before, I could hear the individual parts for some reason. Even when I heard a song that I knew, I would think, “Is this how it was arranged?” I’ve always been interested in music, but I’d never noticed such fine details before. I was astounded by this. It was as if my ears had changed.
You learned to hear what you couldn’t before.
Later, when I was in America, I asked a person from NOA (Nintendo of America) to translate for me during the interviews. When I asked him what he thought about Wii Music, he said that his portable music player became different.
He was now hearing the individual parts.
He was experiencing something similar to what you did while in Europe. Including me, when people in general listen to music, we only listen to the song as a whole or focus only on the melody.
The two of us had quite a good time talking about that.
I wonder if you keep playing Wii Music whether you’ll eventually develop the ear of a music arranger.
Hmm, I wonder. (laughs)
I was surprised when Miyamoto-san told me about that. I remembered how when I was a child taking electronic organ classes, my teacher told me I should learn how to pick out the bass even when I was just listening to music in my free time. After that, I became able to recognise the various sounds of musical instruments and a variety of musical structures.
It’s interesting that Miyamoto-san should, after not paying much attention for 50-plus years, suddenly notice something that Kondo-san started training himself to hear as a child.
As for me, I didn’t gain an arranger’s ear until after I started writing music, but I would agree that it’s definitely something you pick up over time. That’s why I’m so amazed that such a transformation could occur in a mere matter of weeks.
It’s incredible. Going back to what my interpreter said, the value of every single song in his music player has now risen. I myself can now easily tell the difference between programmed songs and those that aren’t.
One of our staff members said he picked up such skills after making just one video.
Yes. He’s a drummer who had never listened to anything but drum parts before. Now he’s suddenly able to pick out rhythm guitar and bass parts.
It’s unbelievable that the way someone hears music can change after just a week or ten days or so. Maybe that’s because the ability to hear music that way sharpens rapidly through the process of trial and error, trying out various instruments, and altering arrangements intensely within a limited period of time for one certain piece of music.
It’s like you grow antennas. Professional musicians develop real ones over time, but to even have fold-up ones just pop up is incredible.
After reading this, I bet a lot of Wii Music players would say they’ve grown antennas just like Miyamoto-san!
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