Monday, January 23, 2012

Musical Instruments and Dancing

Musical Instruments and Dancing 120123

Back in 2007 when I started dancing in SL, I used to go to a club called Toby's Juke Joint Blues. About once a week a guy named Disco Fride would come in and play the guitar to the radio music. He would hop on the little stage and play away. After seeing this a couple of times, one night I hopped on the stage with him and danced to the music he played. We had a great time with him playing and me dancing and did it weekly after that.

In 2008 Riddle and I formed our own club called Not Too Hot. We used to invite both DJs and live performers to play on the small stage. One of the innovations we made was to put dancers with some of the live performers. MadMax Huet, who still performs in SL, agreed for us to put dancers with him while he played. We called the group the Maxines. I had my own line of clothing at the time and the Maxines dressed in one of the outfits. Here are Max and the Maxines in their first show.

You may recognize Dance Queens members Iliandra Allen, Cilla Teebrook and Leela Forder.

This was great fun too. I wish I had recorded Max that day. The show was half rocking blues and half laughing. The Maxines were a hit.

One day I decided to buy my own guitar. I shopped around and chose to get one from Ministry of Motion (MoM), because MoM had the only MOCAP guitar moves in SL. The MoM guitars are copy which means that you can remove the animations from it without damaging the use of the guitar. Of course, I did this and put the anims in my dance HUD.

This was also so much fun. I would wear my red and black rocker hair, a wild outfit and go to clubs and play and dance. Sometimes, I would play super guitar riffs to the recorded music and sometimes I would dance away. Nothing like doing break dancing with a guitar.

I learned that I could use two HUDs when dancing with the guitar. One was my main HUD with all of my dances and dance sequences. The other was either the guitar HUD from MoM or a second dance HUD with the guitar anims. It takes a little practice to use two HUDs this way, but you quickly learn to make very smooth transitions from dancing to guitar playing to dancing. Since most of the dances I use are priority 4 dances and the guitar anims are also priority 4 (see here for an explanation of priorities), switching from dancing with the guitar to playing the guitar is easily done by dancing using my main HUD and clicking the guitar anim on the second HUD. Both animations are affecting your avatar but the last one started is the one that takes priority. Further, I learned that, after I switched from dancing with the main HUD to guitar playing with the second HUD, I could click the stop button once on the first HUD and it would stop only the dance that was still active although I could not see it. The guitar anim on the second HUD did not stop unless I clicked the stop button twice. That made it possible for me to use waiting anims (stands) that are usually priority 3 in either HUD. WOW, soon I was a guitar dancing star.

A couple of weeks ago I bought the Dancer's Violin by Voodoo on SL Marketplace. This is a violin and it takes dancing and musical instruments one step further. This violin gives you the options to play the violin, not play the violin (ready position) or dance a dance and play the violin. You even have a limited capability to add your own dances. WOW! This is a great use of what I call modifying animations (see here for info on modifying animations) that affect only one part of your avatar while leaving the rest unaffected. This violin lets you dance your dance while playing. In essence you are using two anims at once: the dance and the modifying anim.

I searched around for other musical instruments that have anims that show you playing. I looked at guitars, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, clarinets, maracas and tambourines. I didn't find any more instrument playing anims that are made to control only part of the avatar.

You can make simple modifying anims with Qavimator or BVHacker that control just a few parts of your avatar, if you want to make your own. I am hoping that perhaps some of the MOCAP dance makers will think about making modifying anims for musical instruments and open up this area more for us to use.