The evolving role of VR in streaming, music, and the craft of percussion, Paradiddle.
It may seem like no surprise that music—in the form of creation tools (Paradiddle), rhythm games, mind-bending visualizations, and virtual performance venues—have intersected with virtual reality (VR) in a large way.
Rhythm game titles like Beat Saber and Audio Shield have adherents that mod and ultimately let you build amazing skills—sometimes developing their own music tracks for you to play. Other VR apps like TheWaveVR, Electronauts, and Soundstage provide creators with a space or venue for viewing real DJs and musical guests, along with interactive tools and environments that let you create your own music.
Educational musical VR apps like Jam Studio VR by Beamz Interactive focus on teaching you how to play instruments like the saxophone, drums, guitar, and more. But keeping a keen eye on the affordances of VR controllers and how those match up to the different musical instruments, one will note that some are better suited for VR today over others.
TribeXR, for example, has focused on CDJ decks, which are expensive in real life and are suited to be replicated in a virtual environment. You can click and move your hand in a similar fashion to what you’d do in real life to manipulate a CDJ button or slider.
Drumming is another musical instrument that lends itself well to VR. And one new app Paradiddle, is aiming to make drumming in VR a high-quality experience. Think about it, two sticks and an effectively unchanged movement pattern to strike drum heads. Real kits are large and not to mention exceedingly noisy (in the classic drum kit scenario).
The attention detail is what makes this app different from a few other musical apps we’ve seen in VR. For example, no matter how hard or where you hit a drum, it’ll always match the expected sound. And there’s also a way to hook up different types of pedals and peripherals.
To get a better look at the app, you can check out drum cover from the iconic 2014 movie Whiplash in the video below. All of the drum sounds are triggered live in/from Paradiddle.
Considering how we’re still in the early days, it’s very encouraging to see people take more interest in VR audio apps such as Paradiddle, EXA, and Electronauts, and I’m curious to see what gaps they can fill in the lives of more professional musicians and sound engineers.
Currently, it seems like these tools can act as viable virtual instruments for professionals who don’t want to invest in specialized hardware, or who would rather move away from working with instruments on a 2D screen, into a 3D environment where they can leverage their existing instrument playing skills more easily. So I can see a hybrid approach where musicians “block in” a piece they are working on using these VR tools, and polish it up and add the finishing touches using existing, more professional audio software.
There’s also a public YouTube playlist I’ve been updating that lists all of the drum covers performed with the app, so I think people are slowly starting to realize the potential. I’ve been trying to make it as easy as possible for streamers and performers to record their sessions and present them in a pleasing way; the first/third person camera tool is an example of a feature that was added specifically for that purpose.
You could easily teach yourself a new song by just downloading a recording someone else has made, slowing it down if you want, and learning individual parts through the help of these visual cues. I’m incredibly excited to improve this feature in the future by providing different ways of visualizing when to hit the drums (such as a musical tab/note view), and supporting the playback of different file types, for instance.