October 2, 2023

Brighton Journal

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Trombone Champ makes a successful video game for an improbable machine

Trombone Champ makes a successful video game for an improbable machine

LONDON – Behind the scenes at the Royal Festival Hall, one of London’s finest classical music venues, James Buckley, trombone player for the Philharmonia Orchestra, is preparing to do something he’s never done before: play the A familiar opening for Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

Tromboneers usually spend most of the symphony waiting in silence behind the orchestra, ignored by the audience, only getting the chance To play in the final exhilarating movement of the piece. But thanks to the new popular video game Trombone Champ – A sort of Guitar Hero for brass players – Buckle was going on with his cheery opening as if he was one of his first violins. “I have to admit I’m a little excited,” he said.

Buckley, 29, who bravely agreed to audition for a trombone champ last weekend, grabbed a mouse he was going to move up and down to change the pitch of his default trombone, and placed his left hand on the laptop’s space bar, which he would hit to play notes. Then the game started. As a series of notes moved across the screen, from right to left, Buckle desperately tried to keep up. But things didn’t go according to plan, and what came out of the laptop’s speakers wasn’t so much a Beethoven masterpiece as an incongruous mess.

“Oh my God, it feels like I’m rising!” Buckley said.

With the melody over, Buckley leaned back, smiling in delight. He said, “This is going to look really sad, but I felt really great playing that.”

Over the past week, Trombone Champ has become a surprising phenomenon on the Internet, with fans of the game Go on social media to post clips of their charged attempts to play “Auld Lang Syne”, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Richard Strauss”Also Sprach Zarathustra. “Last week, Clip of someone playing “William Tell Overture” by Rossini It has been retweeted over 40,000 times.

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The game has attracted rave reviews. Christopher Livingston, in PC Gamer مجلة magazine, called it “Game of the Year Contender” (Livingston added that he wasn’t joking, in case anyone wasn’t sure). A few players were so fascinated by him, they did Trombone-style consoles So they can play the game like real musicians.

But what do real trombons make of it?

Trombone Champ does not take trombone seriously. She calls players “tromboneers” for a start. Before each song, false starch is presented about the trombone (“In England, it is spelled trombone,” as a typical one reads). In the clips, the tromboneer dances even while playing something serious.

But Buckley, a professional trombone player, had nothing but positive things to say about the game. “If it raises awareness or means anyone wants to pick up the trombone, that’s great,” he said.

Trombone Champ is the creation of Dan Vecchitto, a web application designer at Penguin Random House, who—in partnership with his wife, Jackie Vecchitto—in his spare time makes video games in the bedroom of his Brooklyn apartment.

Fischito, 38, said he came up with the idea four years ago while trying to think of fun arcade game concepts. “I just got this mental picture of an arcade closet with a giant rubber trombone attached,” he said. Realizing that it would be difficult to do so, Vecchitto set out to create a version where players would use the mouse to simulate the movements of the trombone, allowing them to slide between notes.

Ficheto said that it immediately turned out that the game would be a comedy, and he took every opportunity to make jokes.

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Fichito used to play the saxophone in high school bands, but said he had no experience with trombone. When asked if he consulted any trombons while making the game, Ficheto said, “I meant it,” then laughed. At one point, Vecchito bought a plastic trombone called a bone“So I had an idea of ​​what this thing actually feels like,” but that was as close to an in-depth look as possible.

“I was a bit worried that real trombons might be offended, but they were mostly very supportive,” said Vequito.

Fichetto said he received one negative email from a jazz musician telling him the game doesn’t respect the instrument, but other than that, a group of instrumentalists, including trombone kit YouTubersHe was praised.

Several trombons said they thought the game was a positive demonstration of the instrument. Xavier Woods, superstar wrestler for WWE Who plays the trombone in shifts He is also a well-known player under the name Austin CreedHe said he didn’t expect the game to catch his attention, but he ended up playing it for hours.

The joy of the trombone, Creed said, lies in its versatility: “You can make amazing jazz, you can play at Carnegie Hall and the most beautiful sounds will come out of that trumpet, and then you can play at the kid’s birthday clown and make everyone laugh.”

Alex PaxtonD., a British composer, said in his London apartment that trombone champs were so full of notes and microtons so unharmonious that they “carry all the hallmarks of great experimental music”. Then Paxton sat down to try the game for himself. After several attempts, he seemed tired of following his rules, and just started moving the mouse up and down quickly to create a barrage of noise. As he did, the screen started glowing with an array of psychedelic colors. Next, Paxton went and got one of his trombones and tried to play a duet with the game.

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Paxton then said that the trombone champ was not like playing a real instrument. He said that in real life, notes for beginners usually go awry when a player’s lips are in the wrong position, something the game doesn’t approach. However, Paxton said the game “shows how licensing trombone can be to be weird, and to be yourself”.

It remains to be seen if the game will encourage any online “trombones” to use the real tool. At the Royal Festival Hall, Buckley, of the orchestra, invited his colleague Joseph Fisher, who plays the viola in the orchestra, to try it out. After grappling with some Tchaikovsky’s laptop trombone – and laughing as he puffed out a note and the word “meh” appeared on the screen in large letters – he was asked if he could switch instruments.

“Not on the trombone, but I’m definitely going to get the game,” Fisher said.