Saturday, May 24, 2008

Right vs. Left

Before I begin- let me just say I practically know zilch in the scientific facts department of brains.

OK, I can begin now.

I have owned Guitar Hero III now for a few months, and I have played it well enough to get to hard. I have to practice each song quite a bit before I can play it in career mode with confidence- but needless to say- I can still play it well.

I am, as you can guess, right handed. So this means I "strum" with my right hand and finger the color coordinated "notes" with my left. This particular evening I began on my solo adventure of GHIII (most of the time I play and get anything accomplished, I am playing alone) with the intention of mastering a few new songs on hard.

Unfortunately my pinkie was jamming up on my left hand. I couldn't get it to stop cramping- so this means I was out of luck in progressing. I have to be able to very quickly stamp out "orange notes" if I even dream of playing expert. Sadly, I pulled the guitar strap up and over my head when I had a minipoof of a brainstorm.

"Since my left pinkie is cramping, and I still want to play- I could try and play the lefty way!"

This means I would be fingering with my right hand and strumming with my left. After a brief moment of situating the guitar "comfortably" in the lefty position, I went to practice... on easy.

First song- Slow Ride, as made famous by Foghat.

I missed the first 4 notes.

Then hit a few, then missed more.

Here is why. Obviously it was like playing the game for the first time after watching someone who is really good at it (haha) play.

I was "strumming" with my left thumb but every time the note color changed my whole arm would do this sort of dance wanting to make my fingers move. No! Thumb only, brain! Thumb only! Strum down, strum down, strum down!

OK, I thought I had it after restarting the song and getting a few more notes in before realizing I was picking my right hand up and off the neck every time the note color changed. This is not only a complete waste of energy- it's stupid.

I had to laugh at myself. I had played so much on the right side, my arms and hands would go into muscle memory mode. When I tried to fight them on it playing lefty, I would confuse my brain and miss a ton of notes.

I pushed on. I mean, how awesome would it be to play on both sides?! Ya, I know.

As I really payed attention to my hands and fingers I realized that I missed the majority of notes because my left side was a split second earlier than it should be. The "note" side of your...err... brain... needs to be a split second faster than the notes, and anticipate changes. The "strum" side of your brain has to be dead on beat. Or you lose the note.

Crazy. It's neat to see that the two sides of the brain can function in unison using two completely different methods. Once your brain is trained one way- it's an exciting (or... nerdy?) challenge to teach it other ways.

Science, nature, brains, and awesomeness. What a way to spend a Saturday night.

[I know that this may be too amazing for some of you to understand- thus causing you to think I am some sort of "geek".]