"Rock Band 4" - Various Artists

Video Game

U2 Related Content:

Background Information

On September 28, 2015, an announcement from Harmonix, the maker of the Rock Band game, announced that U2 would be taking part in the next version of the game, “Rock Band 4” due to be released on October 6. The game was released on both the XBox and PS4 Video game systems.

Two songs were included in the initial release of the game, “I Will Follow” and “Cedarwood Road”. An additional six tracks were released in December of that year for download as the pack “U2 Essentials 01”. The other songs included at the time of release are from artists other than U2.

The game could be purchased at retail in a number of configurations, including the standalone game, bundled with a guitar, or bundled with a set of instruments.

The versions of the songs are the studio recordings we are most familiar with, although a drum count in and final drum beat are added to signify the start and the end of the track for the player. There is also some crowd noise mixed in at the start and the end of the track making it sound like a club environment, and as you play you can at times hear some crowd noise, ie when you are doing poorly.

In Rock Band, ‘stems’ are the individual tracks which make up the specific instruments in the game. In Rock Band this includes five tracks: guitar, bass, drums, vocals, and usually another track of additional instruments such as piano etc. As you play the game, if you miss a note, the game will not play that particular part of the stem, resulting in not hearing the guitar. This is done by fading out the particular instrument by fading out the particular stem.

Harmonix receives two types of tracks for the game. One, is the track sent over by the artist with these tracks already separated, similar to the stems which are sent out to remixers of audio. Harmonix however, can also work with non-separated tracks, and do their own separation digitally to make it sound similar to if they had the component parts. Songs are not one single audio file, even if sent over in that manner, they are still separated into one audio stream per instrument, and when combined make up the full song. They do this by running a song through a program that will separate sounds based on a range of frequencies. But because they do this themselves there is significant ‘bleed’ between channels meaning the vocals will have significant overlap with instrumentation etc. When they do this separation in house it it often referred to as DIY stems. (Do-It-Yourself) A very limited number of tracks are not separated at all in this manner, and thus have no separate tracks and play as a whole regardless of what notes you play in the game.

How do the U2 tracks make out? “Cedarwood Road,” “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” and “California” are all present with the stems separated and obviously sent that way by the band. “I Will Follow,” “One,” “Pride,” “Desire,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” and “Vertigo” are all split up via the DIY method by Harmonix, meaning the original stems were not provided. And “Sunday Bloody Sunday” seems to be one of the tracks which is not split into stems at all.

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