Musical Talents of Famous Martial Arts Actors

I just realized that some of the famous martial arts actors have a musical talent under their sleeves. This post popped in my mind while I was listening to High Upon High by Jackie Chan during my weekly workout. I’ve seen some videos of an interview or an event where they perform something beyond their combat skills. I’m impressed with what these guys can do. Just take a look at what each actor has to offer.

Jackie Chan

You probably know this already, but I’ll include it here anyway. Aside from doing stunts, Jackie is also good in singing. He recorded tracks for his movies, including Drunken Master 2 and Armour of God. He also sang the Chinese version of I’ll Make a Man Out of You for the Disney movie Mulan. back when he was a child, he had vocal lessons at the Peking Opera School. He has released over 20 albums from which he sang in different languages like Mandarin, Cantonese, English, Japanese, and Taiwanese.

David Carradine

Known by the older audiences (nope, far older than me) as Kwai Chang Caine in the TV series Kung Fu and known by the younger audiences as Bill from Kill Bill, David Carradine can also play the guitar and flute. He can actually make flutes out of bamboo, and you can see him playing one of them in the mentioned movie. As a guitarist, he was a member of the band called Soul Dogs. They play in small venues and charity events.

Donnie Yen

Donnie Yen’s hand-speed is top-notch as you can see in his movies like Ip Man and Flashpoint, so it’s not surprising that he can utilize such skill for playing the piano. Donnie actually belongs to a family of musicians. Her mother was a soprano and a martial arts teacher while his father is a violinist, so he was taught to play different instruments at a very young age. You can actually see him playing the piano in his movie Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen. He plays classical music like what you’ll see in this video…

Tony Jaa

This is the most surprising part for me. I had no clue that Tony Jaa can actually rap. This wasn’t explicitly mentioned in any of his online profiles. Probably he’s doing it for fun, but I still find it cool. I mean, how many actors can you name as a spit artist and martial artist rolled into one? Here’s a video interview where he showed this hidden talent. He’s rapping in Thai language.

It’s good to learn new skills. Like these martial arts actors, I hope you get inspired to learn something new too, even beyond the field of music. Find it, and show the world the talented person that you are. (~^_^)~

Rocksmith 2014 – A Faster and Fun Way to Learn Guitar

A few months ago, I bought Rocksmith 2014 to fill my basics in guitar playing. My initial thought is that I will be able to practice while also playing a game (for the gamer that I am), and I was not disappointed. It’s fun as a game, but it also borders as a guitar learning software. Here are some of the features that made this a faster and fun way to learn guitar.

  1. Tracks – When you start a new game, you’ll be asked to choose which track of guitar playing are you planning to learn. The three options are Bass, Lead, and Rhythm. Each option will affect how the practice songs will be presented to you. The rhythm will be more focused on strumming the chords. Lead will be heavy on plucking. And bass will play the bass guitar part.
  2. Lessons – This is my favorite part of the game. The lessons’ options are made up of a lot of items ranging from the most basic things like Picking 101 to Advance Chords. I thought I can skip to some of the lessons since I can play several songs, but after performing poorly in the power chords lesson, I was obliged to run through each lesson until I completed it to 100%. This feature is really useful since it made me aware of my wrong habits and practices in guitar playing. The lessons are usually divided to three parts:
    Lesson Screen for Rocksmith 2014

    Lesson Screen for Rocksmith 2014

    1. Lesson Proper – The concept will be taught to you in a video lesson so you can imitate it with your own guitar.
    2. Trial Playthrough – Here, you’ll play a segment of musical notes that focuses on the chosen lesson. For example, if the lesson is about slides, then you’ll encounter notes that prompt you to slide from one fret to another.
    3. Practice – The last part will let you play a longer segment of musical notes. If you performed well by hitting around 90% of accuracy and technique, then the segment will transform into a more challenging sequence. With this, you will need to repeat the lesson (you can skip to the practice part) until you reach the lesson completion to 100%.
  3. Learn A Song – This is one of the features that make this an authentic video game. The format is just like the rhythm games you play in the arcades like Guitar Freaks and Rock Band except that it’s displaying the fret board of a guitar and not the orthodox three to five buttons. The camera moves accordingly so the transition from one note or chord to another is smooth and not obtrusive to your gaming experience. There are also more notations to remember since you’re dealing with chords, slides, pulls, hammers, etc., but you’ll get the hang of it if you go through the lessons. It also has tool called Riff Repeater. It lets you select a segment of the song that you want to practice. You can adjust the difficulty which will determine what notes you are going to play for that segment. Basically, the 100% difficulty is the actual chord of the song. The lower difficulties will transform it to an easier chord (e.g. barre chord becomes a power chord) or to a single note for the lowest setting. You’ll play this segment again and again until you hit all the notes right. After this, there’s an optional setting to increase the difficulty and replay the segment or proceed to play the next part of the song. To know more about the feature. See the guide video below.
  4. Guitarcade – These are minigames that practice the different parts of guitar playing. One game might test you in playing the scales while another game will test in regulating the volume of your strum. All games are presented in 8-bit retro style which is a lot of fun to play. It has leaderboards that submits your score via UPlay account. If you need a break from the lessons and songs, this is a good diversion while still practicing your guitar skills.
  5. Missions –  This is  your main guide on what to do next. It will also show the features that you possibly haven’t explored yet. There was one mission that required me to use the riff repeater, and from there I got my resolve that I could really learn each song because of this tool. This feature is also aided with markers that stick with the game’s menu items. If you see the Rocksmith logo beside the session play, then it’s part of your current mission. Once you’ve fulfilled the requirement, the logo will be removed. It makes the entire learning process more intuitive. However, there are times that the mission may still seem unclear and will leave you wondering what you need to do. Don’t fret (pun-pun-pun). You can go to the forums and seek some advice. Chances are, that part is already resolved by your fellow players. If not, the community will be there to help you.

    Missions will serve as your guide for all of Rocksmith's features and learning path.

    Missions will serve as your guide for all of Rocksmith’s features and learning path.

Some Clarifications

  • What do I need to play the game?
    • You need an actual electric guitar, a copy of Rocksmith 2014 game, and a Rocksmith™ Real Tone Cable. If you buy the game on game shops, the copy is already bundled with the cable. If you buy the game from steam, you’ll have to buy the cable separately.
  • Can I use my Steam account if I purchase the game from a game shop?
    • Yes. The copy also comes with a key which you can redeem from steam. After installation, it will be added to your account’s library. You won’t need to insert the disc again.
  • Can I use my acoustic guitar?
    • YES. As long as it has a pickup where you can plug the Real Tone Cable.
  • What guitar brands are supported by the game?
    • Technically, it should support any brand, but I suggest that you use a mainstream brand like Epiphone. I’m currently using Yamaha EG112C.
  • Can I plug other types of instruments?
    • NO. You can only use a guitar. There’s actually a feature called  Session Play that will let you play with a wide range of accompaniment based on the notes that you play, but all of the sounds will be provided by the game and not from an actual plugged instrument. The said feature is pretty impressive, and you can create a lot of possible combinations.

I won’t claim that this is the best way to learn because I really value the importance of an actual teacher. However, if you’re someone who wants to play the guitar and is looking for other options to learn, then I suggest that you give Rocksmith a try. It has a 60-day challenge program that will boost your current skill level. You can even share your experience with fellow players. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next great rockstar of this generation. Enjoy playing and rock on! (~^_^)~